There are times when taking a dog to a show is very much a spur of the moment thing that you know the kids and your pooch would really enjoy. However, although it is great fun, if you want your pet to be the star of the show, then a little advance preparation might be necessary. The great thing about getting your adorable dog ready for a show, is that the whole family can get involved, making the event even more enjoyable and memorable.
Your pooch doesn't have to be super well trained to an advanced level to take part in a dog show. However, they do need to be well behaved and kept under control even at a local fun show. Naturally, they also need to walk nicely on the lead and not pull you around or have to be dragged along themselves.
Judges look for certain things in your dog with temperament being one of the main factors, which means your pooch has to wait their turn nice and calmly. When it is their turn to show off their paces, you need to be able to control their enthusiasm and prevent them from jumping into the judges arms when they make first contact!
It's a good idea to practise walking your dog on the lead using a traditional flat collar. You also need to use a non-extendable lead, but if your dog walks better on a harness, make sure the type your use is a non-tightening design. It's also a good idea to walk your dog in lots of different places so they get used to being in various situations which will help when you take them to their first show.
If you find your dog has forgotten a few "manners", consider going to a local dog club so you can brush up on these together. It's a good idea to go along to a couple of classes even if your pooch is super well behaved when they are on the lead because this will prepare them well for a dog show where there'll be lots of other dogs.
On the other hand if your dog just gets too excited or doesn't particularly like being around other dogs, taking them back to "school" is a great way of helping them through their problems so when the day comes and you take them to a dog show, they won't find it so dramatic to have to cope with.
You may find that at a local dog show, it's the vet or maybe a local trainer who takes on the role of judge. It may even be a celebrity but whoever it is, the main thing about these shows is for everyone to have fun – including the stars of the show namely the dogs! If you find that your pooch just does not enjoy taking part, then you shouldn't make them because it would not be fair on them. The thing to bear in mind, is that not all dogs enjoy the experience!
Dogs need to look like they are having fun, and they should walk nicely on a loose lead. Judges look for a nice temperament more than anything at a fun dog show and really like it when a dog has that little "extra sparkle"!
Judges typically ask you to walk your dog in single file around the show ring with the rest of the people in a class before they ask everyone to stop so they can then inspect each dog individually. The judge may then ask everyone to walk around the ring one more time while they make up their minds which dogs they think should be placed.
Some judges ask each person to trot their dogs up individually. Either the steward or the judge will tell people what to do and they do this in plenty of time so that everyone knows what's expected of them in the show ring. With this said, it's always worth practising running alongside your dog so they get used to it.
By using a colourful flat collar or even a bandanna, your pooch will stand out from the other dogs. If your dog knows a trick or two, like waving a paw at people to say "hello", get them to do this when they greet the judge!
It's also important to dress up smartly – even for a local fun dog show, making sure that what you do decide to wear is comfortable enough to wear for several hours! It's important not to wear a colour that is too close to the colour of your dog because you need them to stand out as you put them through their paces and they are running next to you. The last thing you want it for them to blend in to the colour of your legs!
There are usually lots of fun classes for every type of dog so if you happen to own a scruffy looking character, you might want to enter them into the "Scruffiest" class. However, you still need to make sure you've groomed your pooch which means wiping their eyes, cleaning their ears, clipping the nails and making sure their rear ends are nice and clean too!
This is when you need to do all your preparation which includes giving your pet a bath. You also need to get your grooming kit ready so in the morning everything is ready to be packed in the car.
Local dog shows are great fun but you may have set your heart on taking your dog along to a more formal breed show. If this is the case, you should think about going along to some ring-craft classes where you'll find out just what is expected of both you and your dog when you take part in a more formal dog show.