Gate Stewards help get handler/dog teams on deck prior to their turn at an element. The gate steward also directs traffic from staging areas to each element. Gate stewards are responsible for keeping competitors calm and keeping the flow moving while not adding undue stress to reactive dogs and nervous competitors. (NACSW Rule Book)
As a Gate Steward, you’ll get to see and interact with all the handler teams in some capacity. You’ll offer instructions about the stage of the trail their at, and guide them to keep the flow smooth.
So often, our minds leave us as we’re trialing. We have so many things to think about. Gate Stewards direct us to doors and guide us toward walking patterns.
It’s important when volunteering as a Gate Steward to be thoughtful of the handler and the dog. My pup, Atlas, loves attention (as so many Labs do!) But, if he gets overstimulated he isn’t as effective when searching for odor. I hate to tell people they can’t pet my dog, but it’s the only way I’ve found for us to be successful.
If you’re a Gate Steward, all the handlers and their dogs to do what they need to do to prepare. Give your instructions in a kind and calm voice. And, allow them to be.
This isn’t my favorite volunteer position because you rarely get to watch the dogs work. Sometimes, you’ll spend all morning under a pop-up tent or in a hallway. Still, this is a very important role because it helps keep the trail moving and flowing.