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13 Behind the scenes dog handler secrets

Around 3,000 dogs flock to Madison Square Garden from across the country each year to showcase their stuff at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. A total of 190 breeds can be included in the ring, with each breed looking and acting exactly as is necessary for the ideal standard of its breed. However, it takes a lot of hard work from dedicated dog handlers to develop a dog that can keep up with the best. "What you see in Westminster is the finishing touch," says Karen Mammano, who deals with dogs with her husband Sam. "This is the end product of everything we do." We talked to some dealers who were in Westminster about how to train a dog with a shot at Best In Show.

. 1
The dogs have treadmills.

Among the characteristics that the judges consider is the dog's trotting pace. Many dog ​​handlers put their puppies on treadmills that are set at a certain speed to get them used to keeping a certain trot. "It teaches them the timing and gait they should have," says Mammano.

Some dog treadmills cost more than $ 1,000. However, according to dog handler Sharon Rives, this is only part of the training routine of these athletes. "They develop their muscles like any athlete," she says, "every runner or soccer player or athlete who has to train muscles to do something over and over again."

Soup cans could be a dog handler's best friend.

The judges also look closely at a dog's posture – how it keeps standing still. "It's a kind of supermodel attitude," says Rives. Each breed has an ideal posture, but it often requires some creative training techniques to teach a dog to maintain that position while a judge pokes and pokes. When her parents trained dogs in the 1980s, according to Rives, they let the dogs stand on four soup cans at the correct distance.

"Everyone has their own way of doing this," she says. "Now I have what we call stack blocks, a kind of wooden device with four feet that the dogs can stand on and that is adjustable. I start by saying that they are puppies and stand for a few minutes and when they get older, spend more time, maybe 15 or 20 minutes a day, training your muscles and body and remembering to stand in that correct position. "

3. The dogs have ridiculously long names. [19659009] Professional puppies have very fancy monikers that reflect their pedigree, for example, Rives & # 39; Australian Shepherd replies to "Wiggle", but their full name is "Veritas Sexy and I know it."

"Typically, the prefix is ​​the The name of the kennel from which the dog comes, "she explains." Veritas is my kennel name. So when I breed a dog, every dog ​​has the word veritas in its name. "As for the rest of Wiggles vol As for the surname, Rives says that the litter theme was Top 40 Songs. Therefore, each puppy had a different song title in the name.

. 4 Dealer cars must be inspected.

According to Mammano, the American Kennel Club inspects vehicles from dealers before they can be classified as "registered dealers". What are you looking for? A car that can keep a dog alive in the most difficult conditions. "We have a generator, air conditioning, heat, a 30-gallon water tank," she says. "We have to have fire extinguishers that have not expired and a heat monitor in the vehicle so that the monitor knows whether the air conditioning is going off. We're pretty much self-contained."

5. Dog shows are not natural.

Dog handlers are the first to admit that dogs were not made to wear a ring. "Golden retrievers should never run in circles in a show ring," says Mammano. “You should be hunting and doing this job, and other races should be sledding. So I try to make it as fun as possible for them. "

. 6 There is a quick way to get disqualified.

"If a dog bites a judge or a handler or another dog, that's pretty much everything for the rest of his career," says Rives. "Aggression is never acceptable."

7. You are not a real trader until you stumble and fall into the ring. "I think we all had a moment when we fell," says Rives. "It is always embarrassing. But I think I would like to say that it is like harassing the dog show. You were only introduced to the dog show when you were completely exterminated in the ring."

She also tells one funny story from one of her earliest shows when she was just 16. "I usually use hot dogs or spread cheese as bait, something that I could put in my mouth, and I only had liver that day that I won't put in my mouth. I was wearing a suit without pockets, but I had one Pantyhose on, so I thought I was going to put that really smartly in the bottom of my pantyhose under the flap of my jacket and if I needed bait I'll just break it off a little bit, well, the liver was running the bottom of the panties down to my ankle and the dog starts licking it. The judge says, "Ma, the dog licks your leg." I was just ashamed. "

8. The selection of the handler's wardrobe is of strategic importance.

When deciding what to wear for the big day, the dog handlers have to make sure that they don't overshadow the dog with unusual flair. "They want to dress appropriately for the dog's colors," says Rives. "If you show a black dog, you don't want to wear a black skirt because you darken the dog."

The more prestigious the show, the better the dog handlers dress. "We always joke that last week was a fashion week for us because we were all trying to get suits for Westminster," says Mammano.

And for the bigger shows, they invest in good shoes, not only because they stand on their feet all day, but because their feet and ankles will be on TV. Rives wears the shoes she wore for her wedding. "They're little silver ballerinas with sparkling crystals on their toes," she says.

. 9 It's hard on the body.

"Many of my colleagues have had their knees and hips replaced," says David Fitzpatrick, a professional dog handler who works with the Beijing breed. "You get tired just because you're at the show." And because dogs always turn left in the ring, the trader's left leg tends to get spanked.

10th They have lucky lines, toys and rubber bands.

Dog show people are pretty superstitious. For example, Fitzpatrick has a leash. "I have one that I've probably been using since 2004 because I know a lot of dogs have had great success with it," he says.

Mammano will not reuse a leash once it has been used on a winning dog, instead retire. And she always wears three rubber bands around her arm to keep her number.

In addition, says Fitzpatrick, some owners carry around special toys for dogs, similar to the "busy bee" in Best In Show . "Most of these dogs have a favorite thing, and if you go in the ring and can't find this toy, you go crazy like" Where's the busy bee ?! "

11. The dogs eat what they want.

Well, at least in the ring." I had a dog in the early 2000s and all he wanted was filet mignon, "says Fitzpatrick." He would not take chicken or liver, but the fillet that he would eat. So you get what you want. Or I had a Pomeranian who only liked potato chips. I had another dog that liked apples. "

12th Chalk and dryer sheets ensure that the dogs look sharp.

Show dogs are among the most pampered and groomed dogs in the world, but it takes a lot of work. "Each breed will have its own quirky things that they do to make the fur look a certain way," says Rives. "A salesperson told me to put dryer sheets on a corrugated coat. Others say you should wash your dog's fur in Dawn dish soap if you want it to be smooth. "

Chalk is often used to make a dog's coat look whiter, says Fitzpatrick." Whatever it is to make the dog look better for the show, there is probably a product for it. "And because there are things that are not allowed. "Indeed, too much maintenance is considered a scam, so the owners keep their tips and tricks to themselves. And when a handler sees another handler crossing the line, he sniffs." It's a self-regulating sport, "says Rives." If you saw someone doing something that they shouldn't do, you would report it. "

13. Best in Show is not associated with a cash prize.

"You don't win any money," says Fitzpatrick, who won the Best in Show in Westminster with his Pekingese Malachy in 2012. "You get trophies and a lot of loot. We came home with loot bags, but not with a penny. It's not about money It is about this historical Er event. “

This list was first created in 2016.

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