Conformation Training
  • T_DogT_Dog
    Posts: 331
    I have been looking all over. I have bought a few books. But I can't find anything (Akita focused) on training for the fancy. Specifically how to train a puppy to stack or free stack. I have also only been able to find one or two video of JA in the show ring. I would like to find a step by step write up about how to train an Akita to hold a stack position. Right now I can get an ok stack. But the second I pull the treat away he moves.
  • aykayk
    Posts: 1979
    You can try to find some youtube videos about stacking with other breeds, but the best practice for him and you to learn is to find a conformation class in your area. Because stacking around other dogs is way more different than stacking by oneself. :-p

    My local obedience club offers conformation drop-in practice ring every Tuesday night. $5 per person. Try asking some local clubs on where people go.
  • I second what @ayk said - handling classes are very helpful. Also, while a good stack is nice, it is only a part of the picture. You also need to learn how to move out your dog at the right speed and gait and how to execute the various patterns the judge may have you do - around the ring, down and back, triangle, etc. That includes things like the courtesy turn at the beginning, where you should be looking / what your dog should be lined up with, which side of the body the dog is on and what direction you turn at the corner, and where and how to stop. If you can move and stop well, it leads the dog into a natural stack that requires less adjustments. If you move badly, the dog will be all twisted and bunched up when you stop, and difficult to stack well at all without moving the dog into position again. You also need to practice with other dogs to learn how to gauge their speed and adjust your own not to run up on them or cause the dog behind you to do the same. And how much space you need between dogs to stack your dog, so as not to disturb your competitors and maybe cause a dog fight - and also, so you have room to move your dog in a small circle to reposition if s/he is antsy or the stack is too messed up to save.

    ETA: Learning to stack a dog from YouTube videos is fairly straightforward. Learning to move and space yourself out requires practice with others, watching a video is NOT the same as doing it.

    ETA x2: Dogs don't need a lot of training for show. Remember, the judge is looking at the dog's conformation to the breed standard - its inherent, genetic potential as breeding stock. Training has nothing to do with that and should have no bearing on the judging. But what does matter is presentation - the way a dog moves and stands can give different impressions about the overall structure, proportions, and type of the dog. That is almost entirely based on your skill as a handler. Which is good news - once you learn how to handle well, you can show any dog that has minimal leash manners; you don't have to start over from scratch training every dog for conformation. (The only time training really makes or breaks it is at the upper echelon of shows, when all the dogs and handlers are all really good, so every little thing you can do to be perfect counts.)
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
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    Post edited by PoetikDragon at 2015-09-25 15:59:25
  • T_DogT_Dog
    Posts: 331
    I have searched youtube and I am in conformation class. My only complaint about the class is its more of a rehearsal. They don't give any tips about how to teach the dog. They will only say what the position is. I can get him in position. I have found videos about holding his leash and his collar. How to walk as I gait him. As long as my hand is under his chin keeping his head straight he holds position.. I have found several videos with popular handlers showing how it is done and giving advise but none focused on the first stages of training the free stack. They say to back up walk the dog into a stack, and learn forwards to stop the dog in position. So I got the basics. I am just having a hard time getting him to put his feet right on his own. I have him where if I touch his upper rear legs he will set his feet back. Then I have to lour him to lean forwards so his front legs are strait. I was just hoping to find so Akita related information. Not much of that online.

    Aside from stacking, another issue I am having. He growls at the pretend judge. My wife sets him in a stack, is holding his head straight. When the judge walks up he breaks his stack and leans aways. When the judge starts feeling him down he pulls away and growls. My wife keeps hold of him trying to keep him stacked. Then after the judge is done and stands back up strait he proceeds to bark at him as if yelling at him for touching him. He clearly didnt enjoy him touching him. How should we correct this? I am thinking that forcing him through it and holding his head not allowing him to escape the pat down might make things worse. But I just don't know.
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3975

    Aside from stacking, another issue I am having. He growls at the pretend judge. My wife sets him in a stack, is holding his head straight. When the judge walks up he breaks his stack and leans aways. When the judge starts feeling him down he pulls away and growls. My wife keeps hold of him trying to keep him stacked. Then after the judge is done and stands back up strait he proceeds to bark at him as if yelling at him for touching him. He clearly didnt enjoy him touching him. How should we correct this? I am thinking that forcing him through it and holding his head not allowing him to escape the pat down might make things worse. But I just don't know.


    How is he with strangers during walks and out in public greeting him? If he hasn't had much experience with strangers petting him, you might want to work on giving him positive stranger interaction in a more casual setting than continue to force him to accept judge handling.

    For now, you might want to request that the mock judge just walk a circle around the two of you without giving any physical contact, using a treat to maintain your dogs focus and rewarding as the judge walks away. When he becomes more comfortable with the judges approach, have the judge continue to circle around and just lightly sweep one hand over the dog's rear. Continue to use the treat to maintain your dog's focus on you and reward when the judge makes physical contact. Work your way up to full physical examination, don't start there if your dog isn't ready for it or you both will wind up hating the show ring.
    image
  • T_DogT_Dog
    Posts: 331
    He met my uncles wife the night before and was nice to her. She knelt down and reached out her hand and he walked up and sniffed and then she pet him. His ears were back and he was very nice and was actually submissive in his body language. The obvious difference is he was not being stacked and held and he did come to her on his own terms. the class is very fast paced. But I will see if I can get the mock judge to do as you said. He don't see my dad very often but he is nice to him. But that's not a fair assessment because the other dogs get very excited when he comes over. His pack is not with him at the class.
  • My only complaint about the class is its more of a rehearsal. They don't give any tips about how to teach the dog.


    That's because, as I stated before, you don't need to teach the dog anything other than how to walk on a leash. You, the handler, need to practice - rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Conformation handling classes are about improving handling skills, not dog training.

    How should we correct this? I am thinking that forcing him through it and holding his head not allowing him to escape the pat down might make things worse. But I just don't know.


    You do NOT correct it! Your dog is scared. Never, ever punish (correct) a scared dog. And flooding is not effective, it will only make the problem worse. Dogs do not have the capability to reason that humans do, that makes flooding work, ie. "oh, being locked in a room with a hundred spiders didn't kill me, so now I am okay with a single spider." Dogs don't get that. At all. So forcing a dog to do something it is afraid of or doesn't like will never help him "get used to" it.

    Dial it back quite a bit. You need to find the threshold at which he DOES NOT react at all. The mock-judge should come no closer than that, and you should praise, treat, and otherwise reward the dog as much as possible as the judge approaches that threshold. Don't force the stack, stacking doesn't matter at this point. You need to work on counter conditioning so that the dog thinks an approaching stranger is positive not scary. Do this repeatedly, only ever allowing the mock judge closer when there is no reaction. The goal here is to never trigger a reaction at all. But if you do - dial it back until the person is once again outside that threshold.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    http://www.facebook.com/PoetikDragon
    http://www.facebook.com/KaijuKennels
    http://www.kaijukennels.com
  • T_DogT_Dog
    Posts: 331
    Sorry poetikdragon we must off been typing at the same time. I didn't see your first comment till just now. I saw your second a said did I miss something. Lol then I scrolled up. Yep. I did. Thank you for the great advise I will show this to my wife and we can adjust our methods.
    Post edited by T_Dog at 2015-09-25 19:14:46
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 3432
    Handling is infinitely easier with a well trained and happy dog, and a well trained dog is a pleasure to be around. Judges appreciate this. The show ring isn't the best way to determine a dogs genetic potential IMO, but it can vary depending on what other expectations there are for your breed...having a well adjusted and behaving dog in the ring does say something about it's temperament and basic nature, which is why a lot of breed descriptions for dog shows penalize excessively fearful, shy or aggressive dogs. The dog should know simple commands like Wait, Stand, Teeth, Back up, Stick it, and Touch. I personally feel that training and adequate preparation for a show can make or break the award with all else being equal, and judges are known to favor the better presented/trained dog over the better built dog who can't be handled. To quote my late conformation teacher/AKC Judge and Professional Handler, who taught me when I first was learning to show, may she RIP, "Losers don't have trained dogs. Do you want to be a loser?"

    Confirmation classes run the gamut for expectations: some are rehearsals only with little individualized instruction tailored to any specific dog, those are often the least expensive drop in type of classes, and some are formal 6-8 week sessions where you pay a pretty penny, but for novices, that's the better option (IMO) as you get a lot more 1:1 instruction on hands on specifics.

    Clicker training a happy "go over" may be something to consider...keep it fun and low pressure, especially for a young dog!
    info@hokkaidoken.org
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    Post edited by lindsayt at 2015-09-26 22:11:31
  • T_DogT_Dog
    Posts: 331
    What is "stick it"?
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 3432
    The dog hits their "mark" and out in front of you, sometimes at a down and back, usually after a go around...Essentially you've trained the dog to hit a stack immediately when you stop moving, from a distance, where you are sometimes 4-5 feet in front of the dog and it's all on a loose lead. The dog isn't moving around or shifting, they just hit a free stack perfectly and "stick" their feet to the ground. It looks really impressive and it's nice to have a dog that can do that.
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    Post edited by lindsayt at 2015-09-26 23:49:12
  • T_DogT_Dog
    Posts: 331


    Look what I found. It's not Akita focused but it has really good tips.
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 3432
    Lol, that's the facility I have been using the last 5 years.
    info@hokkaidoken.org
    www.hokkaidoken.com
    www.hokkaidousa.wordpress.com
  • T_DogT_Dog
    Posts: 331
    https://youtu.be/Zq3tmwyTSD4
    here is a video I made today. any pointers on how to improve would be appreciated.
  • aykayk
    Posts: 1979
    The side movement view is pretty uninspiring. Moving too slow so the dog is taking short steps.


  • KoyukiKoyuki
    Posts: 199
    Can you increase your pace to open his gait more? You don't have to sprint but the faster you move he will be able to really open up. Also, I have found to have the chain higher up on the neck allows for more control. There is no shame (in AUS atleast) with fixing the stack in the ring (usually though at the end of the 'circuit' the judge likes to see a natural stack). He is focused on you which is good. I correct Haruki's stack when first in the ring and push her collar/chain forward to emphasis her cheeks. And then for the natural stack I slow right down first so she's not slamming the breaks on or pulls. I don't use bait at all (she gets too excited) and I talk to her in the ring, praise etc keeping her engaged and happy.

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