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The Owner/Handler vs. The Professional

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214 – July 2019

By George G. Alston
(Reprinted from the ISCA Memo to Members)

Showing dogs is the only sport that, by the payment of an entry fee and with no training whatsoever, you can compete directly with a professional. There is no other organized sport in which you can do that.

The amateur is competing against someone who makes their livelihood from showing dogs. They are competing with a professional who dedicated his or her life to this sport, who has spent many years in apprenticeship learning the trade. Yet the amateur will compete in the same arena for the same awards without special training.

In order to do this successfully, you have to have the same dedication. You have to do something every day, 365 days a year, to improve your skill, knowledge, and abilities. The professional is doing all this and more. How are you to beat them if you don’t work at it?

First you have to take the word CAN’T out of your vocabulary. It is a terrible word. You have to stop listening to all those people who say, “The amateur CAN’T beat the Professional”. That is hogwash. So many owner-handlers have been successful over the years. They have won many Best In Shows, Best In Specialty shows, number One in their Group or number One All Breed. Here are a few tips and thoughts.


A judge can only judge what is presented in the ring. The American Kennel Club allows a judge 2 minutes per dog to complete their evaluation. After passing out ribbons and marking their book, that leaves them about 1 1/2 minutes per dog. The judge cannot assume. He or she has to judge what they see. If you do not present what the judge wants to see, you will lose. You must learn to present the dog as efficiently as possible in the least amount of time. It takes work, practice and dedication to become efficient. When the judge comes to the end of the class and tries to make a decision, if the professional handler has his dog set up right and the owner-handler has their set-up wrong, who wins? The professional will win 9 out of 10 times. Yet the owner will stand there and complain that the professional always wins.

Click here to read the complete article
214 – July 2019

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Posted by on Jul 29 2019. Filed under Current Articles, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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