website with directions.
5. Go to shows and matches, watch how things work. Start learning all the unwritten rules of dog shows. Consider joining an all-breed kennel club in your area, and a regional Miniature Schnauzer club if one is available.
6. Attend as many handling seminars as become available in your area. We all start as rank beginners, we've all embarrassed ourselves - just get started!  It really can help to have a friend video you and your dog in the ring, so that you watch and critique yourself later.
7. Travel to national and regional specialties to see a larger gathering of Miniature Schnauzers. Subscribe to the breed magazine -- Schnauzer Shorts PO Drawer A, La Honda, CA 94020. This will help develop your "eye" for the breed, awareness of the finer distinctions in type and quality.
8. Learn to evaluate your own dog and your competition honestly. If you are losing consistently, tuck your hurt feelings in your pocket, and start finding out why. Is your dog too young? Out of condition or poorly groomed? Do you need to improve your handling skills? Here's the tough one - is your dog just not as good as the competition? Blaming others for your losses is a sure sign that you have taken the easy way out -- and at that rate, you will never "make it".
Cost: entry fees, your time, travel expenses - gas, van or motorhome? motel? meals? missed work?

If you use a professional handler:
1. You must have a good dog.
2. Investigate the handler carefully. This is someone you are trusting with the life of your dog. How will your dog live while in their possession? Does the handler have kennel help? What seems to be these people's attitude towards the dogs? Observe them several times before approaching the handler. Talk to some of their clients. Is this handler experienced and successful with Miniature Schnauzers?
3. AKC has begun licensing handlers again, and there is also a PHA - Professional Handlers Association - that offer some assurance.
4. Ask the handler to appraise your dog and it's chance of success. Honesty is crucial. This is not the time to be shy about money - and overinflated promises could cause a serious waste of your money. Expect a written contract with your handler and itemized expenses. Is your dog the only Min Schnauzer the handler is showing? How many more Schnauzers or other Terriers? What priority will your dog have - at the Class level, the Breed level, the Group level? Who will groom and show your dog? Make sure you understand exactly.
5. An honest, experienced, successful handler will be able to present your dog well, providing maximum chance of success. A handler will go to more shows than you can, providing more chances of success.
6. The dog may finish it's Championship sooner with the handler than with you as a beginning exhibitor. Depending on circumstances, it might or might not be cheaper too.
7. A good handler can be the answer for someone who lacks experience, knowledge, or the ability to travel.
8. The same cautions apply -- if your dog isn't winning after 10 shows, stop until you find out why not.
Cost: entry fee, handler fee(s) which may include shipping, grooming, board, a portion of travel expenses in addition to the actual handling fee.

If you don't have a mentor:
     Look for help and information in different ways. You can gather information from many different sources in the dog world, not necessarily just other Schnauzer people.
     We didn't gain mentors when buying our first Schnauzers. By searching, we found a good handler who taught us, and gradually transferred grooming duties to us while showing and finishing our first dogs' Championships. During this time, we joined our local kennel club, took handling classes, and eventually felt we were ready to try this ourselves. I made clever mistakes like messing up show coats, dropping my dog's leash in the ring, telegraphing my nerves to the dogs, and making innumerable handling goofs. But we stuck with it, and I can't tell you how proud we were the first time we handled our own dog to her Championship.
     We also found help from breeders whose stud dogs we had used. We appreciated hearing a more experienced breeder evaluate puppies, and other times, we learned grooming techniques. These people have an interest in quality puppies produced by their stud dog, and in encouraging their show success.

Random thoughts:
     Miniature Schnauzers are shown in conformation shows with a stripped coat. A Schnauzer's body coat is never clippered from the time it is a puppy until it's show career is finished. When done carefully and correctly, stripping is not painful for the dog, but this is another time to use a mentor's expertise. Obedience, agility, or tracking dogs may be shown with a clippered body coat.
     A Miniature Schnauzer may be shown with uncropped or cropped ears. Either way, ears greatly affect the "look" of a Schnauzer. Uncropped ears must be set well on the head, and of correct size - ears are not necessarily going to turn out well just because they are "natural". Most MS are shown with cropped ears, and judges are more accustomed to seeing them cropped. Before having a puppy's ears done, be sure the veterinarian knows what he is doing - not all ear crops are equal.
     We are a community of friends and acquaintances with Miniature Schnauzers in common, but consider the competitive element before you expect someone to give you and a rival puppy full effort. It is just human nature that your own breeder/mentor will care more about helping you with your puppy than will anyone else.
     But back to the beginning, if you aren't having fun, why would you want to show dogs????

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