Stacking The Show Dog

Stacking The Show Dog

By Michael Russell

When a dog is shown before a judge, not only must he show how he moves but he must learn to stand both naturally and when placed in position without moving. This activity is called “stacking” the dog and it is an art that is learned by the handler and taught to the dog. The purpose of this stance is to allow the judge to see all parts of the dog’s structure to determine if he follows the standard of his breed and also for the judge to lay “hands on” and examine the dog to feel his bone structure and muscular condition.

The Show Dog usually appears to come to a natural well-balanced halt in front of the judge and this looks effortless. In reality, it is not effortless and usually the handler has spent many hours training the dog to come to this well positioned halt. Each breed has a standard, which defines how the feet and front and rear legs should be structured. When the dog comes to a halt, his front and rear feet should be placed correctly according to the standard for his breed. If his toes are to be pointed to the front, it would be considered a fault for his feet to be splayed outwards. If his rear legs should have straight hocks, it would be a fault for him to have the appearance of cow hocks. Therefore, it is important that the handler train the dog to come to a clean and perfect stop, correctly setting his feet in the proper position so as to show a correct stance. Often the handler needs to mask a fault that a dog may have and often this can be accomplished by training him to come to the right stop. There is no perfect dog, there is an ideal “standard” by which the dog will be judged.

The Show Dog is trained to come to a natural stack in front of the judge after he has performed the “down and back”, a pattern in which he is gated away from the judge and back towards the judge, at the end of which he must come to a naturally correct stand without the handler positioning his feet or head in any way. He must also learn to be stacked by having the handler position his feet and head for the examination by the judge. Sometimes, in the case of the smaller dogs, he is “stacked” on a table for the ease of the examination, so that the judge can get an appropriate picture of the structure of the dog without having to kneel down to see or touch the animal.

The judge must have the dog stand quietly while he performs his examination of the dog. The dog must learn not to flinch or draw away or move his head or feet while the judge runs his hands over his body, looks into his mouth, checks all the structure of the head and neck, shoulders and back and fore and hind legs, feels his muscular condition and, if he is a male, checks whether he has both testicles. All of this is done for the purpose of insuring that the animal is in good physical condition and meets the standard requirements of his breed, for the original purpose of the Dog Show was to determine the best breeding stock. All of the judging at a Dog Show must lead to this final determination of which dog is the best animal for breeding purposes and so all of the presentation of the dog to the judge should allow for this purpose to be accomplished.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Dog Training

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