"Getting your dog ready for a dog show
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"Getting your dog ready for a dog show

Dogs
Events & Shows

One of the nice things about dog shows is that they come in so many different formats, from the elite, high level breed shows that are run by invitation only, to the casual village green sort of affairs that anyone can turn up and have a go at!

Towards the lower end of the seriousness scale, there is pretty much no dog that cannot go along and have a go, with the only caveats being that your dog should be old enough to have had their vaccinations, in good health, and capable of staying under control.

If you are keen to have a go at a local dog show, whether you wish to enter a breed class or something less highbrow, this article will share some tips on how to prepare for the show and manage things on the day. Read on to learn more about how to get your dog ready for a dog show.

Check the lie of the land

First of all, find a show that is coming up in your local area, and find out what the rules and regulations are for attending. Small local shows usually welcome all comers, but you may have to submit entries in advance, and may also have to show proof of your dog’s age or vaccination history too.

Try to pop your dog along to another dog show that permits spectators first too, to get them used to the show environment and see how they are likely to react.

Make your dog presentable

Small, casual shows welcome dogs of all shapes and sizes, but if your dog is Stig of the Dump on the day, they are unlikely to prove popular! Stinky, grubby and unkempt dogs are unlikely to appeal to the judges, so schedule a bath or even possibly a trip to the grooming salon a couple of days before the show, to get your dog cleaned up and give their coats aa chance to calm down before the day itself.

Good grooming

Your dog should be well groomed, clean and neat and tidy for their appearance in the ring, so make sure that they look neat and are brushed or groomed to show them off to the best of your ability. Make sure that your collars and leads are neat and in good condition too, and if you really want to go for it, try to coordinate your own outfit with your dog’s colour scheme.

Basic skills

You should not consider attending a dog show if you cannot keep your dog under control, and so your dog should be obedient, responsive, and able to execute basic commands reliably. There are no classes at dog shows for the most unruly or badly behaved dogs!

Your dog should also be well socialised with other dogs, trustworthy around others, and not liable to pose a threat to other dogs present, or worse, people. You should also bear in mind that at dog shows, members of the public are often keen to pet and meet the dogs too, and while it is to be hoped that everyone will ask before they approach a strange dog, if your dog cannot be trusted with unpredictable strangers, take heed.

Your dog should also be able to follow basic commands such as walking nicely on the lead, sit, stay, and recall too.

What to take with you

Planning what to take to a local show should not be a military operation in itself, but it can be handy to have a short tick list to refer to, to make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything important! You may need any or all of the following things:

  • Your dog’s vaccination records.
  • Identification for yourself.
  • Cash for entry fees.
  • Pins or ribbon to attach your competitor number.
  • Pooh bags.
  • A brush and other grooming equipment.
  • Collar and lead.
  • A bowl for water and food, and fresh water, just in case this is not available on-site.

Tips and tricks

  • Always follow the instructions of the judges and the stewards, and be polite and helpful at all times.
  • Wear trousers or a skirt in a contrasting colour to that of your dog, so that your dog stands out more.
  • Don’t get in the way of other competitors.
  • Make sure that your dog is enjoying things, and not becoming stressed out or unhappy.
  • Schedule plenty of quiet times and breaks that you can use to give your dog a breather.
  • Don’t enter too many classes.
  • Ask for help, advice or directions if you need it; show stewards and other competitors are generally friendly!
  • If you are particularly impressed by another dog or owner and want to talk to them in more detail, time your approach carefully so that you do not disturb them when they are busy or are preparing to go in the ring.
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