CANINE FLU QUESTION – SHOWING – IMPORTANT ADVICE By Pat Gilbert
I’ve been asked: “How should I handle judges looking at my dogs bite in the show ring?” I am concerned about passing canine flu around. I know AKC sent a memo but if I say, "may I show my dogs bite" is the judge going to think my dog is skittish?”
Response: Both Ed and I are licensed AKC judges and neither he or I got a memo from AKC. I would not assume all judges got the memo and politely protect my dog by asking nicely to show my own dogs’ mouth.
This is a serious consideration for judges and most of all to the exhibitors. It depends on the breed and of course the judges whether they look at bite only or dentition also. I don't think judges would have a problem if you said "I worry about dog flu. May I show you the bite/mouth?"
This is important. Check out your judge's ring procedure in regards to bite before you walk into the ring so you know when to ask. Then please show the mouth properly. That means tilt the head up towards the judge. Then check that the lips are free and lift the upper lip to expose the teeth. In some breeds you may have to lower the bottom lip too. Then turn your dog's head slightly so the judge can clearly see the teeth alignment and occlusion (bite). If it is a dentition breed, you really need to get the lips up/down and stretched. I do right side first and then left side. The order doesn't matter as long as the mouth and teeth are completely visible.
You can also do what I call the alligator. I tell the dog "open" and then open the mouth wide so you can see upper and lower dentition. If you are not sure how to do this, go to the Doberman Pinscher or Rottweiler rings and watch. Ask a handler how to do it properly and demonstrate on your dog.
Please make sure your dog's teeth are clean. There is nothing grosser than going into a dirty mouth. Also, lose the bait for bite examination. Put it away in your pocket. A judge can't see teeth with an entire luncheon buffet glued to your dog's teeth. The judges number one pet peeve is handler’s that bait their dogs during the bite examination.
Hopefully you know what your dog's mouth looks like so you don't have to get a look at the same time as the judge. I can't tell you how many tops of handlers' heads I have seen. Some exhibitors even put a hammer lock on their dog, straddle it and do everything to pry the dogs mouth open when his lips are stuck on his upper canines. Please don't make it traumatic for your dog, you or the judge.
Practice, practice and practice until showing a bite/mouth is smooth and second nature. On a personal note - Ed always asks you to show the bite/mouth. I used to and stopped. I stopped because I can get in and out of a mouth so quickly. I found I did not upset the dogs as much as their handlers did. Now I am back to asking you show the bite/mouth because of the flu.
I also packed a waterless disinfectant hand cleaner in each of our judges' kits. I suggest exhibitors pack some too just in case.
I am bold enough to ask a judge who insists on checking himself to use a wipe before going into my dog's mouth, but that is me. I lived through the parvo scare before vaccines. I never want to see those days again.
Take care and keep your dog safe.