Lost on the other side of the leash

  • What makes a good handler: learning the techniques at an early age (my dog's handler learnt the handling techniques since she was a baby girl)? Or maybe lots and lots of practice although the beginning could be tough and full of mistakes? Or maybe a specific temperament or personality that helps not to take it so rigid that might take away from the beginner the joy of it?

    That is actually one of my concerns, since my original idea was to be the handler myself, to create a bond with my basenji, to show him on dog shows being his handler but when I started taking handling classes (and I have been taking them for a little while now) I became discouraged when I found myself too nervous while walking the dog on the ring, with not selfconfidence, too stiff, and obviously the results were have been pretty bad during the training sessions. I am a little sad about it, because that was my original idea: to have a basenji and enjoy together walking proud on the ring, but I did not know that I was going to feel that way 😞

    It seemed possible-to-be-performed-by-me after going to many dog shows before and watch the dogs and handlers, I always wanted to try some day being not only an expectator but an active participant with my dog on a show, but there are a lot of techniques involved that now I realize and the point is enjoying it, dog and owner together and not against each other. As a handler, I feel responsible for not letting my dog down and not making him look bad because my lack of experience on the ring.
    And besides, on top of that, I am new at the language as well!
    😕 😕 😕

  • You may feel less pressure, if you just start in positive reinforcement based good manners class. These are great classes for establishing a bond with your dog and learning general handling skills, like working with the leash, having hands on your dog, and learning how teach your dog cues. Since you would be taking the class just for fun it should be more relaxed for both of you. Then you can look into a conformation class or maybe try a rally or agility class. As you get more comfortable working with your dog, you will probably find conformation handling becomes easier also.

  • Well Nilo and I just finished taking the CGC test this past Tuesday, in a class of 12 labradors, Nilo is the only dog that is not a lab but a basenji on top of that! Well, everything was running smooth and nice with the test, until Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead). Nilo is 7 months, and we all know how basenjis love to pull, so the instructor -who is the same who teaches us Conformation- stopped us and made Nilo go with another person who could handle him, since he was pulling with me. Literal words I was told were "it's not the dog's fault, it is you". Of course this other person who walked Nilo there was a professional handler who walked him just perfect, so beautiful! So I did not feel really well at that moment, especially since I have been trying everyday to train him in order to be a good companion and to walk nice for a possible show but is seems that everytime that we have class I mess up in something and make my dog and I look awful, at least that is the taste in my mouth that I leave the class with…I don't know...and the sad thing is that is not a basenji club around here with training sessions that I could attend to.

  • What techniques does this trainer use? Are they CPDT certified?

  • @lvoss:

    What techniques does this trainer use? Are they CPDT certified?

    I am pretty sure he is, he and his family are all professional handlers and coordinators of the Labrador Retriever Club in South FL, I met them before in different shows. They are well known around here. His daughter is the one who handles Nilo, she is very good at that and very gentle to Nilo. They work so well together! I do not doubt the techniques are good, we are taught to set the dog in position, how to walk on the ring, etc. The only thing is I do not see any relax or fun in those classes! They look pretty serious and competiitve to me, and any time I do something wrong which seems to be everyday, everybody has the opportunity to listen what I did, as a bad example of what not to do… but for heavens sake I have a basenji not a labrador!!! And of course when there is a compliment to be given to a dog there, it is definitely not for Nilo!

  • I would look for a trainer that is offering non-competitive classes. Something like "Dog Manners".

    Here is the CPDT's Trainer Search page.


  • Thanks a lot, a lot! I am going to make a couple of phone calls since there are two trainers that I see are not too far away. It might work!

    I will let you know 🙂

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