WSS Hands-On Handling

When to stand -- when to kneel

As I stated earlier, the handler typically kneels to present the dog to the judge. This is not bowing to the judge, crouching over the dog or squatting behind the catcher's mound. It is putting two knees on the ground, feet behind you, (maybe using your toes as a balance and your butt resting on your heels), and your upper torso straight, with shoulders back. Ladies, please remember if you are wearing a skirt - keep your knees together, and don't bend at the waist unless the skirt is long. If you are wearing a shirt with a scoop-neck practice bending over in the mirror - are your breasts tucked-in? (I won't use the photos for this article, but I have learned more about some handlers then I have ever wanted to know. It could be a funny article though — Our Most Embarrassing Accidental Exposures.)

When it is recommended to stand:

  • Your dog:
    1. Stands still.
    2. Stands squarely with all four feet pointing in the same direction.
    3. Baits to your hand/face.
    4. Has an excellent neck, shoulder set, topline and tail set.

If you cannot answer yes to all of the above, I would not recommend you free-stack your dog or you could end up creating a picture of a pigeon-toed, elbow-swinging, ewe-necked, cow-hocked red & white goat.

  • Your dog is fussing. Standing up gives you a better position to control the dog's movements and in dog language it tacitly tells them that you are the one in control.
  • You are the only one in the class and the judge doesn't give enough time for you to properly set up your dog. You can still set the legs and feet as you need to, but usually the judge is approaching the dog before you have time to do anything else.
  • You know that once you are down, there just ain't no getting back up again.

When it is recommended to kneel:

  • You have the time in the class to set up the dog, remove the collar and present the dog. Usually for the best of breed or group individual exam you have enough time to set up while the dog ahead of you is doing its individual movement.
  • You need to manually manipulate parts of the body. With a dog the size of our Welsh, it is easier to apply pressure here or there to neck and topline, or, to reset legs when you are at the same level as the dog.
  • You have a young dog or puppy that is more secure with you at its side, or, you need to help the dog work through a problem.
  • The only chance you have of winning is with a good, long prayer.

In competitive obedience, the best idea is to teach your dog both the left and right finish so you can use whichever one you need based on the situation. I recommend that you teach your dog to stack with you kneeling and to stack with you standing up. You never really know when you will need one or the other.

Wheather standing or kneeling, make sure you are not hovering over the dog.


The Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America, Inc. is a sanctioned and recognized member club of the AKC.



The Amrican Kennel Club