Handling classes are by far the best way to teach your dog how to handle properly, and even though Wally has already finished his CH I want to continue attending such classes. We’ve moved beyond the “please, please just stack properly for 10 seconds” and “oh lord, what the heck is he doing on this down and back”. Now that he’s finished and we’re competing for BOB we need to be polished and have a little bit of flair. We need to look like pros!
The challenge is to find a handling class taught by someone with all-breed experience. Most breeds within a group are shown pretty similarly, so if you have a GSP and your instructor has a Setter you’ll probably be OK. But when someone who shows Great Danes tries to teach an Airedale handler how to show, it may not translate so well. On top of that a pro all-breed handler will know some little tricks and tips to really add some flash to your presentation, and we’re to the point where we need some flash. So what did we do? We went to a handling class with Carmen Ruby!
In addition to handling services, Carmen offers handling classes through Sound Handling in Tacoma on Tues mornings. It’s a 2 hour class for only $15, so right off the bat you’re getting more value than anywhere else I’ve seen (one place is $20 for one hour). There were also only 4-5 dogs, which meant lots of individual time with Carmen going over your dog and helping you improve. I’ve been in handling classes with upwards of 10 dogs, making it impossible to get much personal time with the instructor.
Nitty-gritty aside, how did I like it? I loved it! Carmen really does have great tips for any breed and she gave me lots of good ones for Wally. After finding out he was a finished Special she made sure to provide a couple little tricks to add some flash to our routine, especially after I told her the #1 and #2 Borders would be in Redmond this weekend. She also gave us some tips to improve our down and back, and reminded me to keep Wally’s head level (and thus my bait hand lower) in the freestack and to make sure he doesn’t lean forward too much. She was impressed with his freestack, though, reminding me to accept only good or better since he’s capable. And upon discussing his weight (she mentioned he needs more, I agreed and told her our problems), she even gave me a can of Weight Gainer to try out.
Overall I was really impressed with Carmen and will definitely be going back for more classes. She had a lot of tips, Wally got a lot of practice, and I liked her. She doesn’t handle a lot of Terriers (mostly Working and Hounds I think) but nonetheless she was a great source of information. If you can make the Tues AM class then definitely do! She also does privates. What are you waiting for?