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Guide to Handling

There are certain patterns in junior handling you will be asked to do which you won't usually see used in the breed classes. These patterns are used to test the ability of the handler in the show ring. You must perform these patterns without obstructing the judges view of the dog. The most common ones used are the Triangle, Up and down, T, Circle, L and the figure of 8. Some judges will also ask for the reverse of these patterns.
The key to getting these patterns perfect is to have a point that you are running to and watch that point until you have to change direction. All of these patterns must use straight lines, except the circle and figure of 8 which must have curves. You will need to get your Dalmatian used to you moving in front and behind him while running with some these patterns. This may all sound really confusing but it's really easy once you know what you are doing. It takes lots of practice with your dog to get these patterns faultless but its a fun thing to do.

Remember the Golden Rule - Never get between your dog and the judge, the judge must always have an uninterrupted view of your dog. Where ever the judge is standing your dog must be between them and you.

Below is an explanation on how to do each pattern, if you still cant understand it or cant get it right then feel free to ask me (Charlotte Page) at a show and I'll be happy to show you.

Triangle
This pattern is the most common pattern used in Junior handling (along with the breed). You start by running diagonally to the right, this will make the corner of your triangle. You will then turn left and run before turning again to return to your position (if judge has moved then return to the start then go back to them). Some juniors tend to use the starting point and the corners of the ring to make their triangle. The only problem to this is sometimes rings aren't even or the judge isn't standing equally in the middle. So pay attention to where the judge is and how to start of. For the reverse triangle you will go diagonally left before turning right and returning.

Up & Down
This pattern can get difficult when the judge moves. If the judge remains in the starting point you will then just run up to the top the ring with the lee in your left hand and do a loop at the top before returning to the starting position. With Reverse you will just swap the lead into your right hand. However if the judge is to move you are to swap hands at the top of the line and make sure the dog is on the same side as the judge. You then return to starting point( or if the judge has moved back to starting point and the return to them).

T
This pattern is exactly how you write it. You will run straight up as if you are doing an up and down. Then turn left and then as you get to the end turn and run to your right and then turn and go back down the line and to where you started (if the judge has moved you still go back to the start then you go to where to judge is positioned). If you were asked for a reverse T then you just do the same only at the top turn right then turn left. Also make sure that the top of your T is equal! Counting your steps can help.

Circle
Now most people will think this pattern is simple. Actually it can get very hard especially with a Dalmatian that's bigger than you. The normal circle is very easy and you just run round the ring in a circle, but when the judge has moved to the side of the ring you are going to have to change hands. You will be showing your dog with your left hand so what you do is move your left hand over to the right side moving the dog with it while you move behind your dog and swiping the lead into the right hand. You will then have the dog on the correct side without breaking the golden rule. As you get past the judge you will then move in front of your dog and swap back into the left hand. The key is to not stop and do this but to carry on running and to make it as smooth as you can. Remember you are there to be 'invisible'.

L
This pattern is exactly as it sounds. You run straight up as if you where doing an up and down, you turn right and then follow this shape back to where you started. If the judge has moved you still go back to your starting point then go to them. If you were asked for a reverse L you will just turn left at the top.

Figure of 8
Last of the patterns is the figure of 8. This pattern isn't used that much but some judges will ask it. Again it's exactly how it looks. This pattern again is harder with a big dog and can take a lot work to get right. You start at the judges feet where you will then do a curve from the left to the right about half way you will swap hands and do another curve from the right to the left where again you will swap hands and move right to the beginning. As I have said this pattern can get very confusing so a lot practice will be needed. Also remember that an 8 has not straight lines! So it has to be curved all the way through.

Reverse letters
These are frequently asked in the older age groups to split handlers apart. All of them are similar to the usual standard 'L' 'T' 'Triangle' 'Circle' or '8'. The only difference is you start off with the dog in your right hand and yourself on the left hand of the dog.

You then do the same pattern but in reverse. You can be asked any pattern in a reverse way to try to test your knowledge. All you need to do is take a breath and then think about the pattern back to front.

Run Off
There are many names for this pattern however this is what I think best describes it. It consists of two handlers being stood in front of the judge with the dogs on the right hand side if you're on the left or the dog on the left hand side if you're on the right. You will then be asked to do and up and down.

Depending on where the judge is positioned depends on how you change at the top. If the judge stays in the position then you just switch over hands. However if the judge moves to your left then the handler on the left will move behind the handler on the right and keep the dog on the right hand side. If the judge moves to the right you will then move round and follow the handler on the left keeping the dog on the left.

In theory any judge can ask you anything they wish in order to make their decision. All you have to do is think how you would draw that pattern on a piece of paper and do as you would then. Always remember not to get yourself between the dog and the judge!

Most of all enjoy yourself and the bond between you and your dog.