It’s not news to anyone that I am not a fan of group stays in canine sports. The main reason being that my dog cannot do them. Oh she can do a stay amid distractions. She can even do them with dogs nearby (and she would rock them even harder if we actually practiced them). The issue is that she is afraid of dogs. I won’t put her in a situation where she could be frightened during a show in the ring. The ring is a safe zone for her and I will do whatever I can to never have anything bad happen there. I actually am fine with the concept of a group stay. It’s a different problem that makes it potentially dangerous.
That brings me to the point of this entry. Too many dogs in trials are not ready to trial.
I hate to say it but I see it and hear it a lot. Owners who have entered their dog in the trial and they’ll “see what happens.” Attitudes like that are what make group stays potentially dangerous. You don’t know how well-proofed the dog in the ring with your dog is. You don’t know how comfortable he is with other dogs. Even if the dog manages to do well during the obedience portion of the event, you can’t always determine that the dog will be solid during stays. It’s a game of Russian roulette. Sure, most dogs are friendly and most dogs in trials are solid dogs. But not all of them are.
If you aren’t sure how your dog is going to behave in the ring, if you really aren’t sure they’re ready to compete, do everyone a favor and STAY HOME. You’re not proving anything by showing a dog who isn’t ready and you could potentially set up another dog and handler team for a very bad time. If your dog fails to stay 40% of the time during class or when you’re proofing things on your own, why on Earth would you put him into a trial? Are you able to envision your trial performance? Do you have a pretty good idea of what your dog is going to do in the ring? Is it enough to meet the requirements set forth? If it’s not, STAY HOME.
I know no one can accurately predict 100% how their dog will perform in the ring. Dogs (and their handlers) get ring nerves. And, no matter how well you’ve prepared your dog for distractions, I don’t think anything truly replicates the craziness and pressure of a trial. So, regardless of how well you have trained your dog, odd things can happen. But really think about your dog. If something goes a slight bit amiss, is he a danger to anyone around him? Does he have the potential to scare another dog or person even if he means well?
I just can’t understand why anyone would attempt to trial their dog if they didn’t think their dog was ready. We all get nervous before we show and hope we’ve prepared our dogs well enough for the trial. But if you KNOW you haven’t prepared your dog well enough, you shouldn’t have entered him. Not only is it a bad idea for all the above reasons. . .it’s a huge waste of money! Showing dogs isn’t cheap (the RAE title in AKC can cost you upwards of $600 and that’s assuming you qualify each and every time you attempt to earn a leg). Why would you throw your money away when you know your dog has a slim chance of qualifying?
We want to have fun with our dogs when we show. It’s amazing to see the bond between the species and I love watching a team work together in the ring. But be honest with yourself. If you haven’t put forth the effort to prepare your dog for the trial properly, just stay home.