CRUFTS 2017

Watched quite a bit of the coverage of Crufts this year, or perhaps it should be called the Noel Fitzpatrick show! I was very interested to hear that the Kennel Club had come out quite strongly in press releases beforehand, criticising the use of prong collars and electric shock collars. The prong collar does look quite barbaric although there are many in America who feel it is not cruel at all. I remember a client of mine turning up for a training session in a local park and his Dobermann was wearing one. Needless to say, I told him to take the collar off his dog, but I do know there are training clubs which do recommend them. These collars can and do cause injury to dogs and I do not recommend them.

The electric shock collar or E-collar as their protagonists like to call them has been banned in the Police service and military for at least twenty years and is also illegal in Wales. However, it is legal for pet owners in the rest of the U.K. to use them. This cruel piece of kit’s days are surely numbered and rightly so.

A Rottweiler owner recently rang me for help and she told me how her young male Rottweiler had become aggressive towards her and her partner, following a session with a local behaviourist who had used a shock collar on their poor dog. Unbelievably he had used it to punish the dog whenever it moved off its bed without permission, or pulled them towards lamp posts. This was supposed to teach it respect and obedience. It does amaze me how people can get involved with trainers who openly use these cruel devices and my advice would be to look elsewhere.

Interestingly, on the Monday morning after the CRUFTS, I read that the RSPCA have been criticising the way that some of the contestants hold their dog’s slip leads while standing their dogs or moving them around, stating they could cause injury. Is it just me or is the RSPCA just an organisation which has completely lost its way?

I was cautiously pleased to see the GSD winning fourth in the pastoral group after all of the deserved criticism of the poor conformation the previous year. This dog looked more the middle of the road type of shepherd that I like to see and seemed to move very well in profile, although the cameras did seem to avoid showing her hind movement going away, which was one of the main contentious points of last year.

Lovely to see a famous Rottweiler in the group ring Ch Fantasa Smirnoff Ice, owned and bred by Liz Dunhill and handled by her daughter Michaela. She is the record winning female Rottweiler of all time and whilst perhaps starting to show her age now, clearly still a highly impressive dog. I have known Liz for very many years and indeed she bred our recently departed Tara by her famous record-winning male from years ago. Good to see Liz and her daughter still very much in the limelight and Michaela has obviously been taught by one of the best show-handlers of recent times. Liz has bred and campaigned champion Rottweilers, Akitas, Shiba Inus and Wheatens over the years, so remains a highly renowned expert in the dog-show world.

We thought there was too much focus on the agility this year and also a bit too much Noel Fitzpatrick (obviously a very fine vet) and it was such a shame that the Friends For Life category received so little coverage. Normally, we see the actual competition with short stories about each finalist’s relationship with their dog, but as far as I could tell we only saw the winner on Claire Balding’s couch. A shame not to show real star dogs in my opinion.

Claire Balding the presenter is by the way, a total star and although she seems to be everywhere these days, her presenting manner is perfect for Crufts where she is so clearly in tune with the world of dogs and addresses the television audience as though we are in her living room. She nearly lost it when talking about making decisions to euthanise dogs, but just about regained her composure. Mind you, I did think her interviewing of the best in show contestants literally seconds before going in the ring was a bit intrusive and if it had been me, I would have told her to clear off!

PETER MOUNSEY, ASHCLYST DOG TRAINING & BEHAVIOUR DEVON MARCH 2017