In this section Show Training and Agility Training and Temperament Test in Puppies are discussed

Show Training

A successful show career means taking good dogs into the show ring and winning prizes consistently. But that is not as simple as it sounds. A Show is effectively a beauty contest and in order to win those prizes the good dog must look really really good, be well trimmed and presented and move elegantly. Most of this depends on the preparation and handling.

The novice exhibitor would be well advised to first go to one or two shows as a spectator and carefully watch the tactics of the experienced exhibitors from well known kennels, and these exhibitors will be quite willing to give tips and advice if approached after the judging is over.

Show training should start when a puppy is about 4 months old. The trainer must be very patient and understanding, firm but gentle, and never under any circumstances lose his or her temper. The puppy must be able to look upon their training (and eventual showing) as an enjoyable affair with lots of attention and praise, with an occasional tit-bit for reward and encouragement.

First teach him to walk on a collar and lead in the privacy of his own garden and when he has got over the ‘bucking-bronco’ stage and will move steadily try him on the roads and get him used to noise and traffic and people.

The next step is to get him to walk in a large circle, anti-clockwise on your left, then stop and make him stand still with front legs straight and together, head up, back level, hind legs apart and tail up. Train him to stay in this position for a while, then give him an encouraging pat and a word of praise to put him in a happy mood for the next part of the lesson, which is to move forward sharply, in a straight line for several metres and back again, then stand him as before.

Practice this procedure a little each day until your dog realises what you want him to do, then try him out in a field or park to get him used to showing in a strange place and in public.

Now prepare him to accept the type of examination he will get from a judge by going through the routine yourself. Feel his skull, look at his eyes and teeth, run your hand down his neck and shoulders, his back and legs and when he gets used to the idea, get a friend or relation to do the same thing, thus teaching the dog to accept this treatment from a stranger.

Do not expect too much from him at his first show as he will probably be a little bewildered by the noise and the strange dogs and people.

Get to the show in good time to give both you and your dog a chance to get settled, and first find out the time the judging stars and the ring in which the breed will be judged. This will enable you to have your dog groomed and ready at the ringside several minutes beforehand giving you both a chance to relax a little.

When you are in the ring keep your dog on a fairly short lead and do not allow him to interfere with other exhibits. Keep him in full view of the judge but do not stand in front of other exhibitors, Keep your attention firmly fixed on your own dog all the time, giving the same encouragement, praise and tit-bits as when you were training at home. At the same time keep an eye on the judge so that you can relax a little when he is examining another exhibit but are ready to have your dog standing perfectly should the judge look in your direction.

The novice exhibitor would be well advised to start his show career at a breed show held by one of the Kerry Blue Terrier Clubs. He will then be able to compare his dog with other Kerries, find out the good points and the faults, gain knowledge on trimming and handling and stand a better chance of winning than in a mixed variety show. For a beginning enter in the lower classes such as Puppy or Junior until both exhibit and exhibitor have gained some experience in show technique.

Six months old is the minimum age for competing in dog shows under Kennel Club rules.

Most counties have RingCraft Clubs where you meetup with other show people – mixed breeds – and have training in handling your dog.  Ringcraft clubs are usually very sociable, where groups of like-minded people meet on a regular basis and get great enjoyment from training their dogs. The ideal Ringcraft club should have classes, for the beginner, and in particular the puppy before it goes into the show ring, through to classes for more experienced dogs and handlers in order to keep them in the peak of training. The Kennel Club have a find a club search on their website and word of mouth travels well with a good RingCraft club so do ask people locally who show which they’d recommend.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article which has drawn on a piece written by Mrs Pat Littlefield in 1969 who lived in Staffordshire and a Kerry exhibitor. Amazing how some things don’t change with time!


Agility Training

To get started in agility, find a good club or trainer in your area. The Kennel Club has a list of registered clubs and trainers, but there are also some really good trainers who aren’t registered with the KC because they don’t want to pay the registration fee. So, it’s worth searching the internet or asking at your local vet’s.

A couple of agility training sessions a week is plenty, combined with a little practice at home.

Good news is Kerries love agility so if you want to try it we think you’ll have a lot of fun.

It helps to have a few agility jumps at home to practise your agility, but don’t do hours of practice, just a bit here and there. There are some great agility jumps available on the internet, but go for the hurdle jumps or proper agility jumps, not flimsy garden types.

Eighteen months old is the minimum age for competing in agility. However, you can start agility training at just under a year old, starting with jumps at a low height.

Make everything fun. Dogs and owners need to enjoy themselves. So only do a bit at a time and even when your dog matures, it should be little and often. Dogs are at their best in this sport from four to six years of age, so it’s important to take a long-term view.

The weaves are the trickiest to teach. They’re an ambiguous obstacle and require great accuracy. It’s important to teach them slowly and patiently and keep it interesting.

Any dog can do agility, but if you want to win and get to the top then a Border Collie is definitely the best breed. They’re hard working, clever, and loyal. The figures speak for themselves, with over 95 per cent of the large dog category in agility being Border Collies.

Our best piece of advice would be to enjoy your time with your dog; keep it fun and don’t get impatient. Remember to keep your contacts good as this is what will make a difference in agility competitions. Never underestimate the importance of your positioning on the agility course, as this is vital for your dog’s flow.

Article on Temperament Test in Puppies

First published in Kerry Klips, Club newsletter of the KBTSC, June 1992

The most important single trait that breeders strive for is sound temperament. Whether a Kerry (or any breed of dog) is a perfect conformation specimen or just a pet, the enjoyment of that animal boils down to one characteristic: its disposition. Who wants to own or live with a dog that, from one extreme to another, is either an aggressive biter or just a sad-sack wimp?

In l963, Clarence Pfaffenberger wrote a book entitled, The New Knowledge of Dog Behavior. It was the story of his work and research with Guide Dogs for the Blind. Basically, by scientific study, he was able to define behavior in the puppy who would become the ideal guide dog.

Reading Mr. Pfaffenberger’s book in the late sixties made such an impression on me (though I did not intend my new litter of Kerry puppies to be guide dogs), that I decided to test his theories. This was an involved and time-consuming endeavor, lasting from the time the puppies were 3 weeks old until they were 12 weeks old. Each and every puppy, in the detailed exercises that were logged during this period, proved Pfaffenberger and his associate’s theories absolutely correct. No two puppies in the litter scored alike. One male was so receptive to all the tests that it was hard not to give an almost perfect score, and a litter sister had to be coaxed to even respond. The remaining litter mates fell somewhere in between.

Both the high-scoring dog and the low-scoring bitch were entered (at six months and two days old) at the 1969 USKBTC Sweepstakes. The male won the Sweeps and the bitch placed Best Opposite. But true to her puppy evaluation, she detested showing. The male went on to his Championship, but in spite of her conformation potential, no amount of cajoling could ever entice the bitch to a show ring. She was eventually placed in a home with an older couple, and led a long pampered life of selfish behavior.

Edith Izant contributed an article published by the Bulldog Club on the Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT), a much simpler version of evaluating your puppy than the involved Pfaffenberger tests. Edie has tried it with puppies and relates that it’s easy and quick, but adds, “A show dog would need almost the opposite of the obedience dog­more independence.”

It is suggested that, ideally, puppies should not be tested until the 7th week, preferably the 49th day. At earlier than 6 weeks, the puppy has not fully developed its neurological connections. Another caution: if the test is conducted between 8 to 10 weeks, the puppy is in the fear imprint stage and special care must be taken not to frighten it.

Puppies should be tested individually, away from the dam and littermates, in an area new to them and relatively free from distractions. It is best to test before a meal when they are awake and lively and not on a day when they have been wormed or given their puppy shots. The sequence of the tests is the same for all pups and is designed to alternate a slightly stressful test with a neutral or pleasant one.

If the tests are administered by someone other than the owner of the litter, there is less chance for human error or for the puppies to be influenced by a familiar person.

The PAT test itself follows. How to interpret the scores is described last. Try it!



Social Attraction. Place the puppy in the test area. From a few feet away, coax the pup to you by clapping your hands gently and kneeling down. Coax in a direction away from the point where the pup entered the test area.

Purpose: Degree of social attraction, confidence, or dependence.


1 = Came readily, tail up, jumped, bit a hands.
2 = Came readily, tail up, pawed, licked at hands.
3 = Came readily, tail up.
4 = Came readily, tail down.
5 = Came hesitantly, tail down.
6 = Did not come at all.


Following. Stand up and walk away from the pup in a normal manner. Make sure the pup sees you walk away.

Purpose: Degree of following attraction. Not following indicates independence.


1 = Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot, bit at feet.
2 = Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot.
3 = Followed readily, tail up.
4 = Followed readily, tail down.
5 = Followed hesitantly, tail down.
6 = Did not follow or went away.


Restraint. Crouch down and gently roll the pup on his back and hold it with one hand for a full 30 seconds.

Purpose: Degree of dominant or submissive tendency. How it accepts stress when socially/physically dominated.


1 = Struggled fiercely, flailed, bit.
2 = Struggled fiercely, flailed.
3 = Settled, struggled, settled with some eye contact.
4 = Struggled, then settled.
5 = Did not struggle.
6 = Did not struggle and strained to avoid eye contact.


Social Dominance. Let pup stand up and gently stroke him from the head to the back while you crouch beside him. Continue stroking until a recognizable behavior is established.

Purpose: Degree of acceptance of social dominance. Pup may try to dominate by jumping and nipping, or is independent and walks away.


1 = Jumped, pawed, bit, growled.
2 = Jumped, pawed.
3 = Cuddles up and tries to lick your face.
4 = Squirmed, licked at hands.
5 = Rolled over, licked at hands.
6 = Went away and stayed away.

Elevation Dominance. Bend over and cradle the pup under its belly, fingers interlaced and palms up, and elevate it just off the ground. Hold it there for 30 seconds.

Purpose: Degree of accepting dominance while in a position of no control.


1 = Struggled fiercely, bit, growled.
2 = Struggled fiercely.
3 = Did not struggle, relaxed.
4 = Struggled, settled, licked
5 = Did not struggle, licked at hands.
6 = Did not struggle, froze.


After administering the Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT), intrepret the results as follows.

Mostly 1s: This dog is extremely dominant and has aggressive tendencies. He is quick to bite and is generally considered not good with children or the elderly. When combined with a 1 or 2 in touch sensitivity, he will be a difficult dog to train. Not a dog for the inexperienced handler.

Mostly 2s: This dog is dominant and can be provoked to bite. Responds well to firm, consistent, fair handling in an adult household, and is likely to be a loyal pet once it respects its human leader. Often has a bouncy, outgoing temperament; may be too active for the elderly and too dominant for small children.

Mostly 3s: This dog accepts humans as leaders easily. It is the best prospect for the average owner, adapts well to new situations, and is generally good with children and the elderly, although may be inclined to be active. Makes a good obedience prospect, and usually has a common sense approach to life.

Mostly 4s: This dog is submissive and will adapt to most households. May be slightly less outgoing and active than a dog scoring mostly 3s. Gets along well with children generally, and trains well.

Mostly 5s: This dog is extremely submissive and needs special handling to build confidence and bring him out of his shell. Does not adapt well to change and confusion, and needs a very regular structured environment. Usually safe around children and bites only when severely stressed. Not a good choice for a beginner since it frightens easily and takes a long time to get used to new experiences.

Mostly 6s: This dog is independent. He is not affectionate and may dislike petting and cuddling. It is difficult to establish a relationship with him whether for working or for a pet. Not recommended for children who may force attention on him. He is not a beginner’s dog.

No Clear Pattern: If you get no clear pattern (such as several 1s, 2s, and 5s), the dog may not be feeling well or perhaps has just eaten or been recently wormed. Wait two days and retest. If the test still shows wide variations (such as a lot of 1s and 5s), he is probably unpredictable and unlikely to be a good pet or obedience dog