As a former junior handler, I know all too well what it’s like to have your mom standing right outside the ring watching your every move and trying to give you pointers. The key word here is “trying.”

How in the world am I supposed to watch you and look like I’m not watching you? It’s impossible and, in the end, the advice is always something silly like, “Smile, sweetie!” or “Move your dog’s right rear foot half an inch back!”

Of course, we never really know what our parents are trying to say to us when they’re “mouthing” everything from across the ring. Meanwhile, other juniors’ parents are running around with little totes full of goodies in one hand and a video camera in the other.

The juniors ring can be quite the spectacle with all of that going on!

Now that I’m older, I can appreciate the love these parents have for their kids. The term “ring parents” is essentially a name I decided to create from the term “stage mom” – a parent of a performing child.

In a sense, showing dogs in juniors – along with kids who participate in events such as conformation, agility, earthdog, and obedience – is a form of performing. Ring parents are usually responsible for driving their kids to events, making sure their kids arrive on time, and managing all doggie-related needs and requirements, including making entries.

Ring parents can play a very important role, especially when their kids are young.

The term “stage mom,” on the other hand – thanks to shows like “Toddlers & Tiaras” and “Dance Moms” – sometimes has a negative connotation. Some people associate being an involved parent in their child’s sport with being obnoxious and annoying. I’d like to think that only a handful of people out there are like that, and very few at dog shows. In fact, I never see parents going full on “crazy” ringside with their kids. For the most part, doggie parents are kind. They’re proud, and they want to see their children do the best they can.

Sometimes though, I think juniors can get overwhelmed by the little things – including what can seem like endless videotaping. It can get pretty annoying sometimes. However, having parents or a friend record your ring time can be used to great advantage. No tool can better help you see exactly how to improve your performance.

If you read my blog last week, you know that I ventured out to judge my first juniors match. While I was judging, I had a few moms taping their kids. What better way is there to learn? All they had to do was go home, watch the video and keep working hard!

I think I speak for all young people out there when I say that no junior ever wants to say, “It’s just not fun anymore!” because of their parents’ involvement. So to all the ring parents out there videotaping their junior handlers, be supportive and keep on keeping on! Remember, children mostly need praise and approval from their parents. Everything else will follow!

Dogs Freakin’ Rule!!!!!