Proofing the Stand (and Moving Stand) for Exam

proofing stand for exam Mar 07, 2023

The Stand for Exam is another stay exercise and should be treated with the same importance as the Sit and Down Stay.

There are two mistakes that your dog can make during the stand for exam:

  1. Move out of position while being examined.
  2. Move out of position as you return to him.

There are 3 mistakes your dog can make during the Moving Stand for Exam.

  1. Move out of position while being examined. 
  2. Anticipating the Stand
  3. Anticipating the Call to Heel

Moving During the Exam

Teach your dog to resist pressure during the exam. You should be able to push on his side, shoulder or hip, and he should push back, refusing to let you move him out of position. If your dog doesn’t understand this application of opposition reflex, simply push gently on his side, and if you feel that he is not resisting, quickly push him sideways. He will be surprised by the suddenness of your actions, and may find himself pushed out of position. Act surprised that he moved as you tell him to stand and reposition him. The next time he’ll be more apt to brace himself.

Once your dog understands how to resist pressure when you examine him, try having another person examine him in the same way. In fact, if you have a dog that tends to move during an exam, you should have most of the exams require him to brace himself. This will teach him to concentrate on standing still whenever an examiner approaches.

Anticipating the Stand

How common it is for the dog to start stopping as soon as the judge orders “Stand your dog.”  There are two reasons this starts to occur.  Most handlers, nervous about being in the ring, tell the dog to stop or “Stay” before the judge has finished the entire phrase, “Stand your dog.”  Additionally, many judges stop walking as they say “Stand your dog.”  So, inadvertently, the handler has taught the dog to respond to the judge’s command and motion.  The dog perceives that his stopping is critical as you nervously, and probably loudly say, “STAY” as the judge is talking and stopping.  Pretty quickly the dog becomes convinced that he should stop with the judge, not with you. 

 In order to fix this, put your dog on leash, and ask a helper to pretend to be the judge.  The helper should walk with you as you heel forward.   The helper should then say “STAND YOUR DOG!” as they stop moving, but you should ignore the command and keep heeling.  If your dog stops (and many will), simply pull forward on the leash and say “Heel.” It typically doesn’t take too many repetitions before the dog realizes that he can’t respond to someone else’s voice and movement.

In order to prevent this problem from reoccurring, or to prevent it from getting started, be sure that you don’t stand your dog until the judge has stopped speaking.  “Stand your dog” is a ridiculously long phrase, but as the handler, you are not required to respond until the judge has given you the entire command.  Relax, listen, and take a few steps before you respond. By doing so, your dog will learn to ignore the judge’s directions and wait for your command.   

 Anticipating the Call to Heel

Unfortunately, handlers make the same mistake on the “Call your dog to heel” command.  In your haste, if you begin to call your dog to heel while the judge is still speaking, you will inadvertently teach your dog to respond to the judge instead of waiting for your command.

 You can work on this problem in two ways.  First, after your helper says “Call your dog to heel,” act as if you are going to give the heel signal, but instead of saying “Heel,” say “Stay.”  Your dog may take a couple of steps and then look at you in surprise when he realizes that you have not given him the correct command.  Great!  Put him back and insist that you can move your arm, but he better not move until he hears a verbal command to come to heel.

Secondly, and contrarily, try calling your dog to heel while your helper is still examining the dog.  At first, he may simply ignore your command as if to say, “you’re not paying attention, it’s not time yet!”  If he does, go get him, and insist that you do know exactly what you’re talking about as you gently lead him away from the examiner and into heel position.  Interestingly, this drill often speeds up a dog that comes in slowly, as this requires increased attention and effort, and so speed can be indirectly influenced.

All of the above drills will help your dog realize that the moving stand exercise is more than a pattern to be followed; “first I stop, then I get examined, then I trot to heel position.”  Instead, your dog will realize that his attention is required as he may know to stop, but have to be more careful about when, and he may know that he should come to heel, but needs to pay attention and make sure he does so quickly, and at the correct time.

This may be one of the easier utility exercises, but how annoying to disqualify because of easily avoidable errors. With a little effort, you should be able to collect all thirty possible points! 

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