I have twin ten year olds who love the dogs, and have been interested in doing Junior Handling. While Giove isn’t really an ideal dog for the show ring (he shouldn’t have any white), he’s a perfect Juniors dog. He has a pleasant temperament, but he isn’t an “easy” dog. My daughters have to practice with him and train him to do what they want, and they can’t coerce him, or he’ll slip his lead and run out of the ring. (They are not physical with him, but once one did pull on his lead, and he gave her a “screw this!” look and took off.) This package means that they are forced to be better handlers, and not just worry about the fluff that you see with some handlers.
Because of the lead slip, my one daughter, B, was not excited to continue handling him. Her sister, M, was going out of town with her father, so I offered to take her to another show for a final chance. She said she felt embarrassed when Giove took off, and asked if I could promise he wouldn’t do that. So we set to work.
Day one: walking on a loose lead. B gave Giove many treats for just being near her on a loose lead. By the end of the five minute session, he was following her around pretty well.
Day two: more loose lead walking. B continued giving Giove treats for walking next to her. Soon she could just reward him at the beginning and end of the “down and back.” Giove looked happy and was wagging his tail and prancing along next to her.
Day three: more loose lead walking, plus some table time. I showed B how to bait Giove (give him treats) to have him stand where she wanted and how she wanted, while the judge (me, in this case) went over him.
The next few weeks continued with more positive reinforcement to set the conditioned emotional response of being on a show lead and performing with B to a positive one.
We only had one day where Giove did not want to work (and to be fair, neither did I. It was very hot and a storm was brewing that was so bad, we lost power for about 24 hours.) The lovely thing was not only Giove’s CER changed, but so was B’s. She is excited about her show with Giove. I will be sure to post pictures after the show, but I wanted to share a photo of B when she first started handling at age 5, and when she was in her first show at age 9.