Diavolino Italian Greyhounds

                                                                                      ...world reknowned show dogs and world class companions

 
                                             
 
 

How Do I Show My Dog?

Dogs are judged both 'on the stack' (standing) and on the move.

You must train your dog to stand confidently in a 'four square' position while a stranger (the judge) examines it. The judge will physically examine the head and body of the dog. He may open the dog's mouth to the check the bite, or request that you open it for him. Your dog must remain in position while this is going on. The judge will also feel to make sure the males have two fully descended testicles. So, your dog has to be pretty confident and pretty trusting of you.

Your dog will be expected to be able to stack both on the ground and on the table. In Canada, there is a rule that if your breed is usually judged on the table, the judge must request it be put back on the table if he wants to re-examine something. However, not all judges remember that rule, so it's a good idea to train your dog to allow a stranger to examine it both on the table and on the ground.

Hand stacking, or hard stacking, is when you physically move the dog into position. Free stacking is when you guide the dog with the lead or bait into the position on his own.

Your Italian Greyhound will also be expected to move confidently, with it's head held high, on leash. You do not want the dog to be 'strung up' and gagging... nobody likes that! The dog will always be moving at your left side, and your leash will always be rolled up in your left hand.

bar 

What does it mean to 'stack' a dog?

The standard position for most  breeds is a 4 square position, with the dog's head facing to your right.  This mean the forelegs are perpendicular to the ground both from the front and from the side. From the front, the forelegs are equidistant at all points down the leg.

As you can see in these photo, both front legs are exactly the same distance apart the whole length of the foreleg.

Front stackFront Stack B

In this photo, it is narrower at the bottom of the foreleg than it is at the top of the foreleg. This is not how to stack the front.

Front Stack Bad

The hocks are perpendicular to the ground, and from the rear, they are equidistant at all points along the hock.

In this photo you can see how the hocks are the exact same distance apart the whole length of the hock.

Rear Stack

Both front and rear feet should be pointing straight forward, with toes pointing neither in nor out. The top photos give a very good example of the feet pointing straight forward.

In these photos, the dogs are stacked very well. Notice how the foreleg is perpendicular to the ground, and the hock is perpendicular to the ground. In all cases, the head is positioned proudly as well.

Side Stack ASide Stack DSide Stack B

This dog is over stretched in the rear.

Side Stack Over

Here is an example of how over stretching the rear can affect the whole 'picture', by changing the topline and underline. Both of these photos are of the same dog, taken about a month apart.

Side BadSide better

Notice how different the topline is, and how the underline is 'brought out' by stacking the rear underneath her better.

Stacking the rear too far underneath the dog will give it a 'crouchy' look and will exaggerate the topline.

When you stack your dog on the table, you will roll the leash up in one hand, or drape it over your shoulders. You never remove the leash in the ring.

You can choose to stand beside your dog or in front of your dog... practice and see what works best. I find that if the dog is a leaner, one that tries to lean into you when the judge approaches, it is better to stack from the front.

Always remember though, that you should never get between the judge and your dog, so if you stack from the front, be prepared to move aside when the judge comes to the front of the dog. Move to your left, as the judge will approach from your right.

While examining your dog, the judge will want to check the bite (the occlusion of the teeth). He will either do it himself or ask you to do it. Make sure you open the dogs lips only, with the mouth closed. The judge can't tell anything if the mouth is gaping open. Additionally, practice doing this at home so that you don't have to be looking at what you are doing. Judges get frustrated when they are trying to see the bite but your head is in the way. You don't need to look, you should know what's in there!

bar

When you are moving your dog, you want the dog to move confidently with his head held proudly. You will place the collar up under his chin, and maintain a slight contact on it, but not so much that you choke him. You also don't want it so loose that you have no control over him. You can communicate a lot to a dog through a leash (horseback riders will understand this - it is like communication through the reins). Additionally, a lot of people try to impress by moving the dog with a loose lead draped over the dog's shoulders, but the majority of those dogs end up dropping their shoulders and moving 'downhill', where the shoulders are lower than the hips.

Your dog will move on your left side. Roll the leash fully into your left hand. A sure sign of a novice is one who uses both hands for the leash.

Rolling the leash quickly and unobtrusively takes practice. Practice by putting the collar around a stuffed animal or teddy bear.

Here are some examples of dogs moving confidently.

Moving AMoving B

bar

When you enter the ring, the usual procedure is for you to go to where the steward tells you, and immediately stack your dog. Always keep one eye on the judge, as you never know when they are looking. More than one judge has not awarded a win because the handler wasn't paying enough attention to see that the judge pointed to them.

The judge will then ask you to move your dog in a particular pattern.  In the beginning it is usually around the ring, with the first dog to automatically stack on the table at the end of the pattern. Once the dog in front of you is removed from the table, do not wait to be asked. Immediately place your dog on the table and stack it. Take every possible second you can get to make your dog look good!

Once the judge has examined your dog, he will ask you to move it again. The pattern may be a 'triangle', where you go up the mat to the judge's right, then across the ring, then back to the judge on the diagonal mat, or a 'down and back' where you will go down the mat and back to the judge. When doing a down and back, always go down the mat the judge  is facing.

When you come back to the judge, make sure you stop far enough that the judge does not have to back up to see the whole picture created by your dog, who you will free stack upon stopping.  When you free stack him, use some bait or a small toy to get the dog's attention and to make him 'use his ears' (place his ears into the alert position).

At that time, the judge will tell you to either go around the ring to the end of the line, or directly to the end of the line. Make sure you pay attention.

If you are the only dog in your class, the judge may have you enter the ring and immediately place your dog on the table. This is why it is a good idea to watch the breeds before you, so you can anticipate the plan.

In a large class, never stand at the end of the diagonal mat. It is distracting to the judge and to the dogs who will be moving on it. As the line moves up, move with it.  You may allow your dog to relax after he has been individually examined, but always have him ready to be back 'up' in seconds.  Keep your eye on  the judge, as many judges will glance back at the dogs they have already judged, so you don't want him to see your dog not at his best.

When stacking on the ground, always leave enough space between you and the dog in front of you that if the judge wants to walk between you, he can without disturbing either dog.

When moving in a group, move the speed that is best for your dog. Ironically, in most circumstances, the speed that is best is slower than the speed you think. I had a very wise judge tell me once... if your dog moves well, it moves well at any speed, so slow it down and give the judge time to appreciate it! This doesn't mean tiptoe around the ring. A brisk walk should be sufficient for most IGs, or a gentle lope. Do not ever EVER run up on the dog in front of you. That is not only rude, it can ruin a young dog. If you know your dog is faster than the dog in front, wait... let it get ahead of you for a headstart, THEN move your dog.

Keep your eye on the judge, and when he makes his placings, if you re not pointed to, you may leave the ring. It is another sign of a novice to stand at the ring placards with the winners when you did not win that day.

Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a novice, we all were at one time. But the less you can advertise it, the better you will do!

bar

Most of us bring small bits of tasty treats in our pocket to bait the dog.  We use it to get the dog's attention, to make him focus on us in an alert manner.  We want the ears up in the alert position, the eyes staring intently, with the head held high and proud.  Do not bait your dog standing over it, as the dog will lean back and get a ewe-necked illusion.  Do not bait him from too far away as he may stretch his head forward to get closer.  Practice with your dog so that when you bait him, he is still in the correct stack position.

Always place your bait in your right pocket if you are sometimes uncoordinated (like me!).  Since you use the right hand to bait the dog, that leaves it in a handy spot.  Some people prefer a bait pouch.  I don't because every time I open them, my bait flies everywhere, and it's really quite comical sometimes to watch someone going around the ring with bait flying out of the bait pouch willy-nilly!

Bait is more of a teaser for the dog than anything else.  It is not a meal!   The only time you should actually give the dog the bait is when the judge is examining a different dog.   Show it to the dog only, making  him think he will get a piece very shortly.  Watching your dog chow down in the ring isn't giving the judge a great impression.

Some judges have strict rules against bait.  If they don't want it, don't use it.  They will usually tell you ahead of time or have a sign posted that they don't like bait in their ring.

If you drop your bait... pick it up.  It's not fair to other dogs to have treats laying all over the ground.  Once you have a situation where your dog won't pay attention because he sees treats on the ground, you'll see the merit in always picking up your bait.

If you use a squeaky toy to get your dog's attention, do not squeak it over and over and over and over.  All you should need is one small squeak.  If that doesn't get your dog's attention, it won't do you any more good to keep trying.  All it will do is tick off your competitors.

bar

A common question is what should you wear?

Generally, indoor shows are more dressy than outdoor shows.  In all circumstances, you should wear professional attire that is complementary to the dog.  For men, that is often a suit or sports coat and dress slacks.  Jeans are rarely appropriate unless clean, not faded, and not wrinkled.  For women, a dress suit, or skirt or dress pants topped off with a blazer or sweater.  Sometimes you can find a dress with pockets, but those are hard to find.

You always want to find pockets!  That's where you'll have your bait and squeaky toy!  As I said before, some people use bait pouches, little leather cases that pin to your belt or skirt.  Personally I hate them, as most people can't close them properly, and when they go around the ring, their bait flies everywhere.

Your clothes should be of a colour that is attractive with your dog but doesn't hide the dog.  If you have a solid coloured dog you can get away with prints, but if not, I would avoid prints.  When I say the colour should be attractive for the dog, I mean things like don't wear dark colours with a dark dog, don't wear light colours with a light dog.   Don't wear rust coloured clothes with a red dog, don't wear grey with a blue dog.   Your clothes should highlight your dog.

I highly recommend you wear machine washable clothes only.  I find it beneficial to dress in layers in case the temperature changes.  At an outdoor show, it is considered rude to remove your jacket before the judge does, by the way.  Remember, the judge is in the ring all day, you are there for 2-5 minutes.  If they are comfortable enough to leave the jacket on, you should not remove yours.

Be aware of your waistband and your underwear.  You will spend a lot of time bending down at a dog show, and truthfully, nobody wants to see your underwear, no matter how cute they might be.   If you are wearing a skirt, I do recommend you wear underwear.  I was at a show once and a woman was showing her small dog.  A loose dog ran into the ring, so she grabbed her own dog and lifted it to her shoulders.  Inadvertently, she grabbed the hem of her skirt at the same time and pulled her skirt up to her shoulders.  She wasn't wearing panties.  Things happen.... be prepared.  If you are wearing a shortish skirt, have a good friend take a look while you bend over.  You'd be amazed how many women expose more than they planned to!

It is considered inappropriate to leave your sunglasses on in the ring.  Having said that, I have forgotten to remove mine upon occasion, so I make sure that my dog show sunglasses are the kind where the judge can see my eyes.  Never mirrored sunglasses, never anything really funky.

Your shoes should be comfortable!!  Do not wear high heels.  You may be on your feet most of the day so make sure what you wear is something you won't be regretting later.  Do not wear shoes with soles that make noise.  It is distracting to your dog and the competition's dogs to listen to you clack-clacking in the ring.  Do not wear white shoes!!  For one, they won't stay white, but for another, they are distracting.  You want the judge to pay attention to your dog's movement, not your shoes.

Men.... take your keys and your change out of your pocket!!  It is so distracting to everyone when you trot around the ring and we hear Ching!  Ching!  Ching!  Agh!

I always bring some casual clothes with me as well, so I can change into them if I have a fairly large gap between ring times.  That way I don't have to worry about getting dirty or dishevelled.

bar

Back to "The Day Of The Dog Show"

Continue to "What Equipment Do I Need?"

 This page last updated: