Warming Up

From Linda Witkowski, (riser@servtech.com)

You need to play around with how much and what kind of warm up each of your dogs need before going into the ring. On different days, they each need different warm-ups.

Some dogs come out of the crate like a spring wound tight and ready to burst; you do not want to get them any more wired, so work on settling them down, like taking them outside and going for a walk and getting them a little tired.

When the dog is less up, get them out when the dog before you is in the ring. Play a game of tug or whatever, then do focued attention things. Particularly good is what I call dancing - dog is facing me, standing and we both move side to side. It gets them focused and they enjoys it. Do a little heeling and some pivots. Always keep the attention on you and never talk to anyone when you are next in the ring.

With a dog who is more subdued, you should be at the show site at least an hour before he goes into the ring. When you get there, take him around the rings, let him see what's going on, then he becomes more comfortable with the place. If any of his favorite people are there, have them give him some attention.

A warmup with this kind of dog might include some left pivots from a stand and having him pay attention. You could also have the dog stretch up on you and give him treats. This keeps him into you, gets him stretched and relaxes him. You need to work out what works best for you.

The other key ingredient for a warm-up is to get YOU focused on what you am doing. Be sure to first resolve my conflicts with the judges if you are showing more than one dog (yes, it means being there before the class starts). If you are going first, you might want to ask what the pattern is BEFORE you show up at the ring with a dog. Then do some footwork, without a dog, and do mental imaging by replaying in your mind what your perfect picture is of your dog and you as a team. This really helps keep the nerves at bay. You need to play your role consistently for each dog and hold up your part of the team.

Again, these are just suggestions; you need to work out for yourself what works best for you and your dog.

From Kris Helve, (cmsales@russellinfo.com)

Have you ever heard the phrase "Make sure you have the RIGHT dog before you go into the ring?" It will take you some trial & error to figure out what this *really* means, and it often means that there will be no set warm-up pattern for you and your dog, but rather a set of warm-up options that you can choose from depending on what you see.

For instance, if a dog is up and bright, heeling can became somewhat a bore to go up and down an aisle when it's crowded at a show, and you can end up losing that brightness. Then, you're called into the ring and you don't have the "right" dog. However, if a dog is not really awake, and is a bit distracted, heeling in a crowded aisle could be the BEST thing to wake him up and put his mind on his work. So warm-ups depend totally on his attitude that day at that time.

Keeping the dog attentive and ready to work is a big challenge, particularly when the dog ahead of you takes longer than you planned for, or if you that previously missing exhibitor suddenly show up! Having him speak, or do some tricks, is particularly good for a lot of dog's ego/attention. This also works well when you have no room to move.

Finally, the best way to warm-up is to practice different warm-ups at home and then enter the "ring", training them just as if they were a regular exercise, because they are! Then you can experience to see what works best for you and your dog, and they don't become something you do *just at a show* which can in itself make them work against you because you are more stressed.


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