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Common handling mistakes in the ring as per AKC, CKC 

I asked Mickey Stillwell what errors she made in the ring, or what she saw. The focus was on mistakes that cost owners points. These may not be in the books, or on the cheat sheets. They may be things you haven’t even thought of, but judges will NA or remove points.

  • Bowing when giving a command
  • Improper hand position
  • Body language for the finish (dipping shoulders, head tilt)
  • Head movement
  • Moving fingers on the finish
  • Moving arm position after voice command to finish
  • Overly loud command
  • Double command (signal and voice) for finish
  • Giving the ‘STAY” command out of heel position (as or after the handler steps out)
  • Wearing a club logo, or a training vest, or anything that indicates you are an experienced/professional trainer.
  • Carrying treats or toys within 10′ of the ring

Rally Exercises:

Long sit/down

Not knowing if your dog breaks, the owner should not return to the line with competitors

  • Late leaving the dog
  • Not returning to heel position
  • Positioning the dog or touching the collar(can’t touch dog)
  • Handler gets zero on previous exercise and doesn’t return for sits/downs(must return or ask judge to be excused)
  • Extra signals from across the ring

Heel on Lead

Tight lead(loose points for lagging and tight lead)

  • Adapting speed to dog (especially not brisk walking)
  • Not changing speed
  • Leash corrections
  • Not heeling so dog is walking on mat
  • Stepping into dog on sit
  • Too many steps on halt
  • Anticipating judges commands(going back to normal after the fast before the judges command, turning early, etc)
  • Pausing or stopping on about turn(heels should never come together-the turn should be made in motion)
  • Rounding corners on a left turn to avoid crowding by dog
  • Checking each sit after the halts
  • Extra body movement on the “heel command”
  • Moving the leash position after starting to heel

Figure 8’s

  • Tight or loose leash
  • Slowing down when the dog is on the outside

Heel Free

  • Tight or loose leash
  • Hand position-a) both hands down and swinging b) right hand down swinging and left hand held up at waist. The hand position can change for the fast, but must immediately return to the previous position on the normal.
  • Changing hand position after starting

Stand Exercise

  • Touching while giving the “stay”command
  • Backing away
  • Going too far(must be about 6′ away)
  • Not returning to heel position
  • Giving the stay command out of heel position
  • Returning directly into heel position (not going behind the dog first)
  • Rough handling of the dog to position him
  • Extra command to stay- “stay/stay” or “wait….stay”
  • Waiting for the judge to tell you to leave

General Obedience Ring Handling Errors

  • Positioning the dog(knee, foot, hands) before exercises-you can’t touch them at all to position them-even if the exercise is over
  • Collar too loose or too tight (or illegal)
  • Handler not familiar with the rules(when signing the entry form you are stating that you have read and are familiar with the rules)
  • Enter and exit the ring on a loose leash (must clip leash before exiting ring)
  • Telling the judge that they are ready for an exercise when the dog is not in positions. Always check your dog before replying that you are ready to begin.
  • Neither judges or stewards may reveal any part of your score until after the class is over. The judge must , however, tell you whether  you have qualified after your sits and downs.

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