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Training to Trial | A Successful Transition
Week Three | Members Only


Week Three | Handling for Success

We can be of great assistance to our dogs in the ring by providing consistent cues in training and in the ring.   Always using the same cues when training will create good habits.  These habits will carry into the ring.   Providing your dog with consistent information that he/she understands will increase the likelihood that your dog will succeed in the ring.

HOMEWORK:  Do you have good body awareness?  Are you consistently the same with your body, voice, praise, etc. in training and in the ring?  If you are not sure, then it’s highly likely you aren’t.  Submit a video to the website Forum of you training three exercises with the camera focused on YOU.  Then you and I can compare it to a trial video.

Handler Body Awareness

Handlers often give cues in training that they aren’t even aware of.  Our body pressure and reward placement causes certain behaviors.  It’s important to become very aware of how you use your body when training and trialing.  Giving your dog a clear, consistent picture in training and trialing will significantly help your dog.


Verbal Information

Humans LOVE to talk.  But dogs are not verbal.  We want to make sure that when we do say something to our dogs it’s meaningful and relevant for them.  Be aware of how much you are talking.  Make sure what you say is clear, concise and consistent.


Facial Expression

Make sure that you use the same facial expressions when training and trialing.  Many people are relaxed, smiling and laughing when training.  When in the ring, their faces are frozen in place!  The poor dog doesn’t know what happened!  It’s important to give your dog the same “face” in training that they will see in the ring.



Dogs don’t always appreciate the way humans express their joy!  Some of my dogs really don’t like when I pet them a certain way or hug them as a “reward” when training.   Every dog is different.  Pay attention to how your dog reacts to your praise.  Remember, dogs and humans express their pleasure very differently.


Example of what I thought was praise but Zeal clearly didn’t agree!


Taking Your Time

Often when we are nervous we speed up.  Rushing causes us to make mistakes.  We need to SLOW down.  I develop a rhythm when training and make sure that I follow that same flow in the ring.  The more nervous I am, the more I focus on slowing down and doing my job as a handler.


Example of Taking Your Time Before Each Exercise

In the following run you can see how I really take my time before each and every exercise.  I am making sure that Zeal and I are totally connected, he is in the proper drive state and he knows exactly what’s coming next.  Before my run I reminded myself over and over to take my time.


“Team Effort”

You and your dog are a team….so don’t leave your teammate behind!

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