SUCCESS: HARD WORK MEETS OPPORTUNITY
TRAINING AND GROOMING YOUR COLLIE TO WIN
Patience and perseverance
have a magical effect before
which difficulties disappear
and obstacles vanish.
~~ John Quincy Adams
By Kathy V. Moll
Deep River Collies
Now that your puppy is ready for the show ring, you will want
to keep your goals firmly in front of you. One goal should be
making your show prospect puppy a happy, enthusiastic performer.
Another should be steadily improving your own grooming and handling
skills. Last but not least, finishing your collie's championship
is your ultimate goal. Let's exam each of these goals individually.
How does a puppy become a happy, enthusiastic show dog? If you've
read the previous articles in this series and have followed
the instructions, you're well on your way. However, you need
to continue to give your puppy every advantage. When show training
your puppy, keep your sessions short and fun. Ears and enthusiasm
are paramount! Endlessly stacking is not! Save the stacking
training until the puppy stands back at the end of the leash
with his/her ears up and neck arched and will hold that position
until you lean forward and offer a tidbit of food. Use your
"show" word to train the puppy to stand and stay.
Never give bait if the puppy moves toward you, only do so, if
the puppy stays put until you lean in to reward. Gradually lengthen
the time you ask the puppy to stay put for bait. Then break
the puppy out of the show position with a release word and praise.
Ask friends and family to go over your collie while he/she is
posed. Remember to move next to the puppy and hold the collar
loosely with one hand while the "judge" goes over
the head. Move to the front of your dog, and hold while the
body is examined. Feeding the puppy a bit during body examination
is a good idea and will keep your puppy steady and still. Repetition
is the key to a smooth examination, but be sure you don't overdo
it if the puppy is getting impatient.
During examination should be your puppy's introduction to stacking
(except what you've practiced previously on the grooming table).
Once your youngster has the holding still aspect down pat, gently
stack the front while your judge is examining the head and bite.
Always stack from the elbow, one leg at a time. Move the left
front leg under the body with your left hand, while holding
the collar with your right. Switch hands and move the right
front leg under the body with your right hand while holding
the collar with the left. Give a "stay" command. Then
move to the front and hold the collar or rough while the front
is examined. If the puppy moves, say, "no" and replace
the leg(s). Give a treat and calm praise for holding the stack.
Once your collie will hold a front stack, teach a rear stack.
Stack the front as usual and give a tidbit. Slide your left
hand down the dog's back while holding the collar with your
right. Gently slide down the right rear stifle to the hock joint
and place the leg turning it very slightly out. Move to the
left hock joint and do the same. Give a second "stay"
command. Feed as usual during examination. Play between stacking
Next be certain your collie will move smoothly on a loose lead.
Praise and encouragement are important while you move along.
Again, short sessions with tidbits and praise are essential.
Teach the puppy to move in a straight line at a comfortable
pace (not too fast or too slow). Then teach turns. Practice
the "down and back," a "triangle," the "go
around," and an "L." Praise and reward for smooth
performance. Keep your sessions short and fun. If your puppy
is not moving, stick a little bait under his/her nose and then
toss it out ahead of you and allow the puppy to run out and
pick it up. If a small squeeky is what motivates your pup, use
While good handling can make the difference between winning
and losing, so can proper grooming. We've discussed accustoming
your puppy to the grooming table in previous articles. A once
a week table session is important to making the experience pleasant
for the puppy and for you. Again, keep sessions short and praise
and treats plentiful.
Know how to make the most of your grooming sessions. Go to grooming
seminars put on by collie and sheltie experts whenever you can.
Ask your mentor to teach you his/her grooming method. Anyone
can learn how to properly take care of collie coats. The number
one grooming mistake is not brushing your dog to the skin. Learning
to completely brush a double-coated breed so that a greyhound
comb will slide through the coat is half the battle! A good
slicker brush and pin brush are invaluable. Keeping nails short
and teeth clean are vital aspects of proper grooming. Trimming
is a tricky business and will require study and practice. Allow
an experienced person to help you. When practicing trimming,
don't use your show puppy, practice on a collie you're not currently
showing so that mistakes won't matter.
To improve your own handling and grooming, watch carefully at
shows. Watch collies and shelties and focus on the handlers
that have a rapport with their dogs. You will soon recognize
the outstanding professional and owner handlers whose dog's
are beautifully groomed and presented. Video taping handlers
you admire while they're in the ring can be a good memory refresher
at home before you work with your own collie. Watch yourself
and your puppy in a full length mirror during some of your sessions
to be certain your handling looks smooth and that you and your
puppy are a team.
Next time we'll examine the ultimate goal - making your collie
a champion. Owner handling versus professional, proper conditioning,
and selecting the right shows and judges will be the focus.
Until then, keep working!
Kathy Moll of Deep River Collies has been breeding Collies
since 1974. She has owned or bred between 70 and 80 collie conformation
champions, approximately 30 to 40 in each variety. She also
earned the Collie Club of America Presidential Award for Smooth
Collie Breeder of the Year for 1998 and was tied for the same
award for Rough Collie Breeder of the Year in 1999.