Now that Dinah's eight months old and we have a few shows' worth of experience, Tracy has started to expect more from us in our handling classes. We started out with just standing up (as opposed to sitting in the mud), and have progressed to a little more self-stacking with attention work. Just as we're beginning to get used to self-stacking, Tracy is moving us on to actual stacking and placing of the dogs' feet.
This lesson comes just in time. Dinah's last show photo was 80% WWF wrestling match, 20% photo shoot. Although I've been handling her feet since I brought her home, she didn't take too kindly to my messing with them in an unfamiliar place, in front of a bunch of people she hadn't met before. After considerable squeaking and tossing of toys and other distractions, the photographer managed to get a reasonable shot of Dinah with four on the floor and the very-patient judge smiling.
Dinah hasn't been enjoying these stacking lessons. Part of it is due to my technique, I'm sure. She allows me to place her feet, but she dances and wiggles. Tracy showed me how to hold Dinah's head (by a handful of Beardie beard) so I could better control her. If we practice this, it might work someday. Dinah is not a big fan, however. I think Tracy thinks she's a spoiled brat. That might be true, but Dinah does learn when she's shown what is expected of her.
The other technique, which I have to UN-learn, involves how much I talk to my dog. I'm still operating in puppy kindergarten, where chattering to your dog is expected, and where you praise for every little thing. Tracy made me realize just how much I yammer to Dinah, and I'm trying to cut down on the chatter a little so she'll listen to me when I do speak to her.
Our next show is the Lakes Region Kennel Club show next week. There are only two Beardies entered, and Dinah is the only class dog (the other is a male special). I guess we're on the fast track to BOW/BOS again. No points, but no complaints either -- we enjoy bragging rights.