Cooper and I are getting ready to head to our first show on Saturday. I am very worried that he'll balk at the judge when she goes over him as he does not like this at all in conformation class. I believe this is due to his dislike of being hand-stacked, as I have heard of others having similar problems and solving them with free stacking/free baiting the dog. I don't think this is something we can learn by Saturday by any means, but I would like to start working on it as soon as possible. Do you have any pointers on either the handler or the dog learning to free stack? I think it would help his confidence and attitude greatly. Thank you!
I don't know if this will help out at all, but there are a few different sites that go into teaching a free-stack.
It isn't difficult, and probably doesn't take nearly as many steps as these outline. Mostly, what we did was simply praise/treat every single time we had our dog standing with tail wagging and all 4 legs on the floor. After a while, we started only treating if standing in more-or-less "squared up" with his feet. I learned from a very successful lab breeder that as long as the rear leg toward the judge is well-placed, and the front legs are more-or-less squared, then the dog is absolutely fine for evaluation. It seems to have worked well for us, in spite of never really perfecting an ideal "stack." LOL
Are you involved with a labrador retriever club? If so, most members involved should be able to give you good tips/tricks to use when training to free-stack as well.
As a newbie, I wish I would have started with free-stacking rather than hand-stacking...it would have made the transition from fun-loving puppy to "animated show dog" a bit easier for both my dog and myself, I think. Most dogs don't seem to like hand-stacking, so in keeping the show ring fun for young dogs/puppies, the key seems to be free-stacking, lots of positives/praise, and playing games. With dogs/puppies new to the ring, don't look for perfection...look for a good, fun experience. Even if everything goes wrong and you don't even get a ribbon, as long as it remains a positive experience for the dog, that is a *good* day.
~Julie, Rogue, Monty, and Eddy~
"The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue." -Anon
My Puppies I start free baiting at 7 wks. of course it won't be perfect. I put the pups up on a bench or table so they are waist high. Get them food motivated.. I can hand stack them easier. So they get used to my hands on them and checking the bites. I have my hubby come over and go over them. I talk to them to stand.
So by the time the dog is 5 mos he is used to hands on him. When i say bite he will be like a statue and show the bite and teeth. But puppies will be puppies.
I have a 3 yr old who still likes to lick the judge when she bends down to check his front. A big lick in the ear....... You can talk softly to your PUPPY in the ring especially if he is a wiggle worm. you can gently hold him under his belly while he is stacking . aND THE JUDGE IS GOING OVER HIM . Some judges want you to hand stack some only prefer free stacking so its to your best advantage to have your dog learn both ways.