What I’ve Learned about Habits from Being a Dog Show Judge

a mixture of letters of the alphabet with the word habits


As I look out over the Caribbean on my annual beach vacation, I find myself reflecting on what I’ve learned about life and dog shows.

When I travel as a judge, my habits are different than they are when I work at home. I don’t need to get into the exact “what” and “why” of my habits, let’s just say that when I’m judging or on vacation, the habits I’ve created in my life at home carry forward to similar habits that serve my individual needs or those interests as a judge. I have created habits that help me create success regardless of my role at the time.

If you aren’t intentional about these activities, it’s likely that you will create more havoc for yourself…


Be Intentional

Whether my intention is to relax, exercise, or get a tan, it works best for me to set that intention even before I start that activity. If I want to be successful in getting a tan, I need to set a schedule for the number of hours I can and want to be in the sun.

If I want to get more exercise, then I create a habit to do so no matter where I am. In addition, it helps to attach one or more existing habits, plus a reward at the end. I didn’t invent this concept, but it works exceptionally well. One simple sequence that worked well for a Dog Show Mentor member was to train the dog for five minutes a day and reward with a five-minute social media dive!

Sometimes it takes discipline to train your dog, so why not create a sequence of habits that makes you happy? Sometimes the simplest system works the best.

When you begin as a dog person, particularly if you just got a puppy or young dog, think of it as adding new habits. You have added the habit of feeding a new puppy, walking it or letting it out, and this last part is particularly intentional. You want to housebreak your puppy, so you create a framework for that activity. On the clock, you develop the habit of feeding and letting out. If you’ve read a book on puppy training, you know that schedules are very important to dogs and the success of THEIR habits. Your habits rub off on your dog.

If you only let your dog out when you think he needs to go, then he will learn to go when HE wants to, not on your schedule. If you aren’t intentional about these activities, it’s likely that you will create more havoc for yourself, even if you believe the opposite.

  • Ms. Lee Whittier has been involved in the sport of purebred dogs for over three decades. Her involvement began as an owner, exhibitor and, subsequently, a breeder of Rottweilers. She has owned Akitas, Bullmastiffs, and a Sussex Spaniel. She currently owns, breeds, and exhibits Tibetan Terriers. Ms. Whittier began judging in 2000, and then took a hiatus for several years to work for the American Kennel Club as an Executive Field Representative in the Pacific Northwest. She returned to judging in 2011, and currently judges the Working, Terrier, Toy, and Non-Sporting Groups, seventeen Hound Breeds, ten Sporting Breeds, Bouvier des Flandres, and Best in Show. Ms. Whittier has judged dog shows around the world, from the United States, Canada, South America, and Asia, at shows large and small; all of great importance to each and every exhibitor. Some of the larger shows are Westminster Kennel Club, Kennel Club of Philadelphia, Del Valle Dog Club of Livermore, Great Western Terrier Association, Northern California Terrier Association, Hatboro Dog Club, Inc., Malibu Kennel Club, and the Kennel Club of Palm Springs. Ms. Whittier is a standing member of Dog Fanciers of Oregon, The Central Florida Cairn Terrier Club, Columbia River Cairn Terrier Association, and the Tibetan Terrier Club of America. As an active member in numerous clubs, she has worked in the capacity of Show Chair, President, Vice-President, Secretary, Board Member, and Constitution & By-Laws Revision Committee Member. In addition to judging, Ms. Whittier developed the Dog Show Mentor program, exclusively for owner handlers. This is an online program where owner handlers of all stages and levels learn to develop an individual, strategic approach to showing dogs. She also travels to speak to owner handlers all over the world. She currently lives in Vancouver, Washington, with her husband, Wayne, and their three Tibetan Terriers. Her other interests include gardening and hiking with the dogs.

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