Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ring Stewarding

This past weekend I volunteered to be a ring steward at the Des Moines Obedience Training Club's (DMOTC) local obedience and rally trial. I thought it would be a valuable learning experience and of course I was right :). I am relatively new to the competitive obedience world, well I mean I've been around it for YEARS but I've never actively participated in it or really even sat and watched it. And now I've decided that I should probably see what Monday and I can accomplish in the ring :), so I needed to see what we were up against.

I found my volunteering experience to be very informative. I specifically asked to steward the Novice table so I could watch Beginner Novice (which is where I think I will start with Monday) and also the Rally classes. On Saturday I helped with the paperwork for all the rounds and on Sunday I acted as a post and leash runner. Being a steward also meant I got to see how each round was scored and also to observe the patterns and necessary setup procedures.

I totally found it fascinating to watch the different dogs and handlers work together. There were some good teams and bad teams, a lot of people weren't reading their dogs' signals correctly which made me a bit sad for those puppers. But for the most part, most of the dogs were happy :). A few things I noticed that I will have to make sure I watch out for:

  • Anticipating commands. Competitors sometimes forgot to wait for the judge's command and the dogs sometimes acted on the judge's command before the competitor cued the behavior.
  • Leash handling. Competitors might not realize how much they use that leash to encourage or control but be aware that the judge does see it and it can be penalized.
  • Know and understand the rules. Score sheets for each level are available here so you can look at how much each exercise is worth and what the deductions can entail. Also understanding what type or combination of commands are permitted can either save or fail some exercises.
  • Match your energy to your dog. More and more people are using play in their training which is awesome but they forget to realize that sometimes ring stress means your dog would prefer a gentle butt scratch in stead of a muzzle push back or other high energy moves. I'll have to make sure to watch this Monday.

It was a long weekend but I enjoyed it and will be doing it again. I signed up to help in September and then we have the Cyclone Country Kennel Club show in February so I will be back at then as well.

Monday says she's ready to work!

If you have any pointers, we would love to hear them! Wish us well on our beginner novice journey :)!!


  1. One thing Suzanne told me that I found very helpful, when you are heeling, set your pace to a song and sing it in your head each time. It helps with nerves and also helps you maintain the same pace each time for your dog.

    1. Ha that is a good tip! I will have to make sure I don't hum or sing though, LOL. In the ring it will be me messing us up, not Monday. I have total ring fright :)