review by: Jan Irving 2006-05-01

Recently, I was asked to handle a setter who had become known as 'shy' in the show ring, despite being handled in all sorts of situations outside the ring, at all times of the day in all types of weather. She'd set up well, and hold her ground, until ... the judge's hands moved from in front of her head and passed over her head. Then as the judge's hands moved to the skull she'd pull back and she would drop her hindquarters to the ground.

The problem was confined to the ring, it had been ironed out in practice situations.

Various methods had been tried, from firm handling to enforced setting up with stifles locked, or hand on the belly.

I had suggested free standing her and handling from in front but for various reasons, including, it not 'being the done thing' the dog's owner had not tried this in the ring.

So given the opportunity, I changed the chain choke for a soft choke and free stood the bitch and baited from in front.

She stood like a trooper, provided I held her attention on my bait.

It dawned on me, she wasn't shy, she was simply ducking and following the judge's hand in the belief or optimistic thought the judge had bait there.

Problem: head ducking and pulling away as head examined.

Reason: judges may have bait in their hands

Cause: too much sweet and gentle training with mock judges having bait

Cure: attracting the dog towards a forward position handler and ensuring the dog focused on the handler and handler's bait rather than checking the judge's hands. .

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