Articles Index/Conformation
Created 01/30/99

Blending Obedience Training with the Show Ring

There are many opinions on whether to train a show dog in obedience. The most common negative comments are that obedience training will "kill the spirit," "ruin the dog's spontaneity," or that the dog will somehow be confused about what to do ... the obedience ring vs. the show ring. I have to disagree with these comments and would like to point out the importance of obedience training in tandem with training for the show ring.

Observing the show ring is sometimes the only thing you need to do to be convinced that dogs being shown need some obedience training. Take the dog that won't walk on a leash and is dragged around the ring. Take the dog that won't stand still for the judge's examination. Take the dog that does not focus in on its handler. Take the dog that "hates to show," why? ... because it's not having any fun! Also observed is the handler who has fallen and loses the dog and the dog will not come to the handler when called. Obedience is not only good for improving the dog's behavior but can also act as a reliable safety factor in retrieving a valuable animal.

So how does one incorporate obedience into ring training ... the first thing that you have to do is MAKE IT FUN! I've seen many an obedience instructor act like a drill sergeant and this is why it probably gets such a bad rap. Too much of anything and everyone gets bored. Training should not just be done during a "training session" ... it should become part of the everyday routine ... practice during walks ... mix commands up so the dog actually has to listen to you!

But most importantly ... give lots of praise and rewards for good performance and quick sharp corrections for incorrect behavior. Play with the dog on lead and let it have fun in between working. Obedience training also provides a bonding time between the owner and dog, and the dog looks forward to performing.

Remember that the show ring is an illusion. It's the image of what the dog is portraying as well as good structure. So if you were judging a group of dogs that are all pretty good specimens and one is perfectly focused and the others are jumping around, whom would you choose as winner?

What are some recommended obedience commands to blend with the show ring?



  •  Stand
 for exam
  •  Come
  •  Watch me
 focus on handler
  •  Trot
 back into proper gait
  •  Head Up or No Sniff
 speaks for itself
  •  Good
 correct behavior
  •  Wait
 don't move forward
  •  Stretch
 move only fron feet forward

There are many more that each individual can come up with for their own specific needs or choice of words but these may be helpful to the novice. My own Norfolk, Ch. Landmark Sweet Someone, CGC, CD, is continuing to train in Open and Utility work and always looks forward to his play training times!

Robyn Snyder
December, 1998

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