Training Cientos for Conformation
Thursday, January 3, 2019 at 9:40AM
E Lisette Gerald-Yamasaki in My Dog, behavior, dogs, obedience, training

Not long after I started training Cientos in obedience, I asked my breeder if I could show him in conformation. He was so gorgeous when he ran I thought he deserved a Ch. before his name, as well as a UD after it.

Cientos winning his Championship

 Being a training person, though, I wanted to “train” Cientos for the conformation ring, despite the conventional wisdom that training a dog in any way, and especially for obedience, ruined him for the conformation ring. “Obedience dogs don’t do well in the show ring, they sit when you stop!” went the complaint.

If you’re familiar with obedience competition, you know your dog stays on your left, and, among other things, sits automatically when you stop moving. And the best obedience dogs keep their eyes on you, the handler. In the conformation ring, the dog is sometimes on the left and sometimes on the right, never sits, and looks ahead.

No problem, I thought, I’ll just develop a separate set of commands. Instead of HEEL, I used STRUT in the conformation ring. I used STAND for both rings, because I liked the idea of Cientos standing like he owned the ring in either ring.

I also used commands when grooming him, rather than doing the work myself of shifting him from one side to the other, or getting him on and off the grooming table.

Cientos got his championship, and though nobody admitted they could be wrong about mixing obedience and conformation, the handlers and groomers commented on how wonderful Cientos was to work with, easy and responsive.

Don’t be afraid to buck the system, but buck thoughtfully.

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