ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF AND DOGS
By Patricia H. Gilbert
A reader wrote: “Your exclusive field is the show ring itself. That is where you (thats the collective dog world you incidentally - not you on your lonesome) - go to do your thing and no one else (not Mommy with a stroller or any other person living a completely normal life) can go. That's your (my) area and we relish that world and all that is associated with it.
”Your entry fee gives you no protection against the public. In fact their entrance fee (even if a nil price) gives them every right to be a part of the event (except to walk into the ring itself or be intrusive personally), providing all bounds of decent behaviors and laws are respected by them.”
Response: The reader has great points on the purpose of dog shows. It is about the dogs and is for everyone. When you go to the show, you must expect all sorts of people and dogs and possibly crowded situations.
It stuns me that people complain about breeders not wanting to sell them dogs and people not willing to help the novice, etc. Yet we cannot tolerate a few spectators! Come on.
Peeves - Rude people at any level of expertise. For the record, I hate Flexi-leads, I hate strollers, and loose kids running amok and people who let their dogs pee everywhere including on my set up. Then they don't clean it up! That same exhibitor also lets their dog mount my male in the show ring and laughs about it! Had I dropped the lead on purpose, my dog would have won – and I’m not talking about a blue ribbon. What if I was a novice and couldn't control the situation? So it's not simply the novices but some of the oldsters too that have no manners.
I cannot believe those people who walk away from their set up and leave dogs in crates barking and whining. I cannot believe those people who leave dogs up on tables and walk away. Then they complain when the dog jumps off or someone goes up and messes the hair. They leave dogs in exercise pens the dogs can easily get out of or jump and bite people. The people who leave their dogs unattended in unsafe situations invariably are the ones who complain the loudest about the "spectators".
Use some common sense with your dogs and with the public. Do not leave your dogs in situations that are undesirable or unsafe for them.
We go to dog shows to show our dogs. We expect spectators. The viewers are the judges, other exhibitors, breeders, and the public including children. Many walk-in spectators do not know what dog language and behavior is or how to teach their kids to approach dogs. They push their strollers with kids and food. They have no clue that the temptation for the dog can be overwhelming. It is our responsibility to gently joke that your kid is lucky. He almost lost his hot dog because that is my dog's favorite snack. That puts the idea in the guardian's head that maybe they should not feed their child and walk around dogs. You can even point out that at a dog show, it is a good idea to eat food in the lunch area. You can explain that we use treats to get dogs to perform and the dogs know people even strangers have snacks.
Kids are a special consideration. If you see one coming at full tilt at you put your hand out and say Whoa! or Stop! When they stop you can explain how and when to approach a dog. Is it so hard to say, always ask first?
Did you know AKC has a program that is for school teachers? It teaches dog body language and how to deal with dogs. It teaches kids how and when to approach dogs and always ask first if it is OK. It teaches kids what to do if they find themselves alone with a dangerous and aggressive dog. It is an excellent program that is free to schools. Tell your local schools about it, even if you don't have children. Remember PETA is also providing programs for school children.
Think about this. Those annoying spectators are there because they are interested in dogs and may be shopping. I personally tell people to go to dog shows and look around. They buy our pets. They or their kids may want to show and compete in obedience or some other event some day. They easily are our future. Besides we need the public on our side in the legislative battles.
I have people approach when my dogs are up on the table. The dogs are on display at that point. Is it so hard to remind kids and others to always ask first if you can touch? If they put their hands out to touch and I don't want them touching. I say something to the effect that he is just about perfect for the show ring right now. I will be in Ring # whatever in 10 minutes. Come watch and cheer us on and then you can pet him.
I walk dogs through the show grounds, in particular the ring area, on a SHORT lead next to my leg. My dog cannot get into trouble. You can stop a dog from sniffing your dog gently. Put your hand between your dog and the other and get the handler's attention to point out the behavior.
If I have a tough dog that has social issues I go around groups of people and dogs. The dog is wearing two collars. I get him into the building by wheeling him in a crate or I get in before the crowds. I do the same to get him to the ring.
I carry Toy and small dogs to the ring and then let them stretch in a safe area. For heavens sakes, don't wave the little dog in front of a large dog's face. I keep him as close to my body as possible and walk quickly with purpose to my destination. I carry a ringside grooming table to keep them up and safe. If I have multiple dogs I wheel the entire cage condo to a holding area near the ring. I can easily take one dog out and put one away in a quick manner and not hold up judging. My dogs are under control and not readily available to be touched by anyone.
Be aware always what your dog is doing and what is around him. It is up to you to insure safety for you, your dog and the public.
We must be aware of and it is our responsibility to know where and what our dogs are doing at all times.
Don't complain about the rude spectators wanting to pet your dog. When your dog is done and wants to rest, PUT HIM IN A CRATE or take him out of the building! Cover the crate if you must and stay with him. There are crate fans for air circulation. Your first responsibility is to your dogs always.
Is it so hard to explain to people that your dog worked hard and is in his house and bed taking a nap? You can say come back in an hour and see him when he wakes up. If you don't want your dog touched, then say I am so sorry, he is tired and won't wake up for hours.
No one but you is responsible for your manners and for the behavior of your dogs. Let us all try to be a little more tolerate and understanding. We come from all walks of life. We have different levels of dog experience. What we all have in common is a love of dogs who give us unconditional love.