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Well, I think we had our best show yet! We entered the puppy class at an open show in Maidstone. It was in a multi storey car park which was a bit off putting, then at the last minute they moved the setters outside in the rain. At least the ring was bigger.

I got Bess to stand to start with - not 100% happy with it, but at least she was still. She then proceeded to jump all over the judge and tried to bite him when he looked at her teeth. Oh dear!

But when I ran round with her she didn't jump up at all! First show she's kept all four legs on the ground! I was then quietly chuffed when the three other dogs all played up, having to start again, and jumping and leaping everywhere. Although they did stand quietly for the judge. One dog would not keep his legs on the ground, and the judge gave them extra chances and advice at the end until the dog ran a few paces on four legs.

We came 4th, out of four. But I was pleased that she showed some improvement, although she must be better with the judge!

Bess is slightly smaller than the other pups - only about an inch shorter than a bitch one month older, but she is slighter in frame. Bess also has a very flat smooth coat, whilst the other pups had thick curly hair.

I don't know whether I've not got a good dog to show - well, not at the moment at least, or whether her misbehaving with the judge ruined her chances? He certainly was giving the other dogs more attention and more chances, so did he rule out Bess at first sight?

Whatever, I was very chuffed with her improvement, and despite the rather odd location she was much calmer overall than at previous shows. She also travelled extremely well. She was a good girl.

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She was not really biting, more mouthing. She started this at ringcraft last week so its a recent thing. I will be trying to get her to stand better and try to get used to someone looking at her teeth. I didn't know you can talk to the judge after. That's useful. I know I have a long way to go, but in my opinion we can only get benefit from going to shows and practicing. Ring craft is okay, but its not like the real thing. Bess seemed slightly better today than before, perhaps because I was more relaxed. And she coped well as she'd never been in a multi storey car park in her life!

Practice, practice, practice. I know. :0)

I agree with Sue that you could get sent out of the ring and a judge could even have to write a report to go to the Kennel Club if they think the dog is being aggressive. She may only be mouthing but it is how it gets interpreted.  Until you are sure she is going to let the judge look at her teeth without problems perhaps you could show your dogs teeth to the judge. If you go to ringcraft the best people to ask how to do it are the junior handlers, they have to do it all the time. As the judge approaches from the front just ask do you mind if I show you the teeth.

The best person to ask if they think your bitch is good enough to show is probably the breeder.  They will know how their breeding should look at her age and if she looks promising or not.

Keep practising but also watch others in the ring as you can learn so much from just sitting and watching experienced handlers.

My breeder thinks my girl is wonderful and definitely show quality. Unfortunately this is on the basis of the mum winning one companion dog show! So not the best person to ask. She does come from good lines, and a couple of knowledgeable people who've looked at her think she's got potential, but also said she's not there yet. Trouble is if I wait until she's fully grown I won't get the experience of handling - which I badly need, and she won't learn either.

I take heart she's got better each time we're out. The first show I provided the ringside entertainment and even the judge was laughing.

If anyone's at Coventry and wants to give me an opinion on Bess I'd welcome it - and wouldn't be offended!

Good luck with the practice Trish. We always take the best dog home and it is great that you are showing and learning together.

All the very best with Bess and learning to show Trish. I've always been..... just quietly a little interested in having a go at showing. I'm off to have a look at an Irish setter show soon, maybe I'll have a go one day too. Best of Irish luck :))

Thank you!  I really enjoy showing Bess - although nervewracking as I'm still learning what to do, I've met some nice people at shows.  I'd advise you to give it a go.  If you haven't shown before ringcraft classes are a good way to start.

Hi Trish,
Do carry on showing Bess.....Irish Setters should mature very slowly ( and by the way have a flat coat too! Read the Standard to study the finer points of your dog). I will not be at Coventry but am doing the Irish Setter Club of Wales in Raglan. It is an open show and you would meet lots of breeders there who will advise you. Have you entered Bess there? It is on the 18th of November.

Well I thought they should have a flat coat, but curly coated ones seem to be preferred by the judges I've met!  :0)  Though they were probably better in other ways!

I won't be able to get to Raglan unfortunately - it's a bit far to travel her at the moment.  We're going to the South of England Gundog Club the day before (17th). 

One question I have - at Ringcraft last night I was told I should be a lot firmer with Bess, and certainly by telling her off when she was playing about and taking a minute to get sorted ended up with her standing nicely and staying still while she was examined, and she even let someone look at her teeth without any protest at all!  I was told I should be firm this way when in the show ring.  However, I have also received advice that I mustn't fight with her in the show ring, and that if she won't let me stand her, just let her stand how she wants.

I keep getting conflicting advice!  The other thing is about running round with her.  I was told that if I stopped when she was jumping and tried to steady her I would lose any chance of a place.  Yet last Sunday all the dogs placed were playing up, and their handlers stopped them, went back to the start and tried again.  I am so confused as to what I should and shouldn't do in the ring!

Trish,
I think some people mean well and want to help.....but are giving you the wrong advice.
When you are in the ring or training ( a few minutes every day are enough) you should be firm but kind. Difficult balance to achieve! Your puppy must enjoy the training and want to please you, this is the best way of achieving a nice stand. I would stand her every day at the end of her exercise for a few minutes and reward her( either a hug or a treat will do!) For moving her, stay very calm, try to move her steadily and reward at the end! If she plays up in the ring, you must stop and start moving again slowly and steadily! The judge want to assess movement and won't be able to do so if she is jumping. I am not going to the South Gundog Club otherwise I would have helped you there. I hope what I have just written helps you. Let me know if you have any more questions.

Setters are very sensitive.   When she is misbehaving turn away from her, avoid eye contact and don't speak.   She will mess around a bit longer and then register that you have stopped communicating with her, they hate being ignored.  I would suggest that in a small area slip on her lead and whilst she is bouncing about, drop it and do above.  When she calms down pick up the lead and look in her mouth, or pick up her feet or whatever you want.  If she behaves then quietly pat or treat her, if she misbehaves drop the lead etc.   I used to take my youngsters into a village or town or shopping centre where there were lots of strangers, I found somewhere to stand and whilst the younger was looking and listening to strangers presented me with an ideal opportunity to make her stand on her terms without her being stressed.    If someone came over to admire her,  I asked her to stand and if she was good and the stranger willing, I would ask her to smile i.e. let them look at her teeth and I found very quickly that the youngster became calmer when taking her to strange places.    With a puppy try and get to the venue early and walk Bess around so that she acclimatises to the sounds and smells.    Ring ettiquette is definately do not speak to the judge until all judging is completed.   Most gundog breeds mouth and most knowledgeable experienced judges know this, puppies usually outgrow it but again you can stop it, when she starts, relax your hand and turn away from her, then cross your arms.  When she calms, relax your arms turn around but as soon as she starts again, repeat.   You've had horses and dogs are just the same except smaller!!!   But the idea of keeping calm and firm and consistent whilst around them works with both species.  How is her recall coming on??? 

Recall? What recall? I've realised this week I really have got a stroppy teenager. I ask her to sit or 'down' and she gives me a look as if to say 'what's in it for me?' And assesses the treat to see if its worth it. And sometimes she decides it isn't. She really isn't food orientated, so whistle training only works when she feels like it. Surprisingly her teenage strops do not appear to extend to practicing her stand. She seems resigned to that.

Has she been in season yet?  I find that once that is over bitches do settle a little.  You are the leader of the pack and she needs to learn that.  Asking her to sit,come, get off, down etc etc will never work.

When you want her to do something and she comes forward, even if not all the way but is still facing you, quietly tell her she is good, turn round and walk away from her.  Dogs don't enter into conversations, they "do".  You really will have to go backwards.   Food supply is your biggest "tool".  If she picks at her food and when she leaves the bowl pick it up and put it out of sight.  When she asks for food this is your opportunity to do a bit of endorsement, she asks and you as the leader of the pack lets her have some of your "kill" by putting the bowl down for her, let her eat some and then pick up the bowl and put it away (even if she looks as if she would eat more).  The next time she asks use your whistle and pip her (even if she is by your side) tell her quietly she is good and put the food down and let her finish.   Likewise when she wants to come up onto the sofa or whatever push her away and say "No".  The next time you see her approaching, pip the whistle, and invite her to join you.  Anything else you do and she participates with use the same tactic all of which endorse your leadership.   Find a treat she really loves, Michelle Webster used to have a wonderful livercake recipe and it was a great tempter for dogs.  Don't forget the zig zagging - if she thinks you're leaving by the back door, go to the front - if she thinks you are going to the sitting room, go to the kitchen.  Always be in front of her, pip when you change direction alterting her to follow endorsing that you lead the hunt and to get in on the "kill" at the end of the walk (the titbit) she has to follow and to follow she has to keep her eye on you!.     The tricky one is the car because she has to get in first because (as yet) she can't drive!!    Re standing, she isn't resigned (they don't reason) she is accepting your leadership with this task, so well done.   Even in the showring whilst you are waiting to be seen and she comes into you, use that as endorsement by telling her she is good and smile at her.  Don't make a fuss just quietly let her know you are pleased with her.   You know that when you were riding and wanted to change direction you didn't debate with the horse, you indicated what you wanted and the horse complied, it is exactly the same with dogs.  Don't be beguiled by those great big brown eyes and floppy ears,by allowing her to misbehave (according to your rules) she is challenging you for leadership and presently she is winning it really is as simple as that, seriously.

Only a few more sleeps until Setter and Pointer!! 

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