Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Re: How to train for the (USA) ring
Honestly, the ring training I have done for the WDA/USA rings hasn't really helped. Didn't hurt any, but the show atmosphere is totally different than what you can create. My training with Nikon has helped us leaps and bounds in the UKC ring, but that's because the judges want to see patterns, I have to stack and handle my own dog, things move much more quickly, etc.
I think the main things would be making sure he's OK showing the bite (usually the dog sits with the handler straddling him and opening the mouth...the owner can step in if the dog is unruly), having tattoo and testicles checked.
If you can't get with your handler to do some good ring training beforehand, I would get him in the ring before the show, or before his class and give it a lap or two. You'll need to know how to double the dog. This is more important than anything you can practice at home, and is something that is mostly developed in the ring, during a show (I've practiced doubling, even with my regular handler, at our club and various places but it still is just not the same as doing it at a show). Some people run right alongside their dog the entire time. Nikon goes absolutely nutso so I have a very very easy time - I simply hide in the corner blind and if he starts to look bored or his ears relax too much, I say his name once. If he sees me, he starts digging and clawing into the ground and that is NOT pretty! It's not frowned upon to quick pop in the ring and do a practice lap as long as you're not holding anything up.
Several good people have told me that if you're not sure what to do, or you don't have your handler to work with, it's not really worth practicing because at best, it won't help you any.
Stacking is really different in the WDA/USA rings than what you would see people practicing for UKC/AKC. Because you will double handle, the dog will naturally be "up" and alert, pushing forward. Nikon posts a lot when I stack him, but doesn't really have this problem during shows because there is so much going on he leans forward better, isn't slouching and posting.
A good handler should be able to stack any dog, regardless of their type or experience. There are ways to hold the collar, the dog's "handle" on their neck/jaw, etc that the handler will know.
A good handler will also direct your double handling and be clear on where you need to be, when to call the dog, etc.