Thinking of showing your dog this year? Perhaps Crufts has inspired you to sign up for a dog show? If so, keep reading because here are my top five tips for showing your dog.
Before you sign up for a major dog show, it can be useful to begin by showing your dog at a smaller, local show. This can be a good start to determine whether your dog is ready for the bigger shows.
As a dog photographer, I love grabbing my camera and heading out to the fantastic country shows we have in Cumbria – and they’re even better when they feature a dog show.
My diary is packed with events this summer, including the Country Fest, with their Companion Dog Show on Saturday 4 June, which is always good fun. It’s held under Kennel Club rules, but is open to all dogs – with seven classes for pedigree dogs and 14 novelty classes. I’ll be popping along, so if you spot me with my camera, don’t be shy – come and say hello.
If you’re thinking about showing your dog, there are a number of aspects to consider, and here are my top five tips.
- Do your research (and make a day of it)
Before officially signing up, take some time to do your research about the shows. Even better, attend some similar events so you can get a better sense of what it’s all about and your dog can get used to all the different sights, smells and sounds. It’ll be good practice for both you and your dog. You will learn more about what the judges are looking for and what you can expect when you enter your dog, as well as the show processes and preparation. Remember to take some treats and do some simple training to practice rewarding your dog verbally for tricks and commands in a show atmosphere.
- Sign up for training classes
Although not absolutely necessary, classes can help you train your dog for a show. They can also help you socialise your dog and help them learn how to walk on a lead without being distracted. Classes that are specific to showing will usually teach all the basics of how to present your dog in a show. For example, you might learn how to gait your dog around the ring, perform basic patterns and stack them for examination (either on the table or the ground).
But not only that, classes are a brilliant opportunity to network and meet other people who have taken part in shows. The instructor can also offer advice in evaluating your dog’s conformation and help you decide whether they belong in the show ring and have a good chance of winning.
- Pamper your pooch!
No judge is going to be impressed by having to touch a dirty dog. Although some breeds are discouraged from weekly bathing, make sure you’re still washing areas like the face, legs and undercarriage. It’s recommended that most breeds should be given a bath the day before the show weekend, rather than on the day itself. This way, the coat will have had time to dry properly and won’t be as fluffy. Be sure to remove all tangles from the coat, clean around the eyes and ensure their claws are neat. You can then brush and spot bath them, if necessary, to keep them in tip-top condition throughout the show weekend.
- Practice gaiting your dog at the correct speed
Gaiting is moving your dog in a way that allows the show judge to see their movement and structure. It’s typically a trot because trotting is the correct pace to show your dog’s true structure in the best way possible. Before showing your dog, you should figure out how fast or slow you need to walk them so they move at their best. This article about gaiting is packed full of tips to train your dog so they move at the correct speed.
- Get your dog used to examination
If you’ve watched dog shows before, you’ll know that judges will physically examine a dog. Your dog should become used to being touched on its body and mouth. You can get your dog accustomed to this by touching its body daily (including inside its mouth, as judges will examine the dog’s teeth). Give it regular inspections, similar to those that judges will do, on both a table and on the floor. When your dog is comfortable with you examining it, ask a friend to do the same so that your dog is absolutely fine with inspection by strangers.
If you would like a lasting memory that showcases your dog beautifully, I offer a range of home products, including framed fine art photographs, canvases, box frames and albums.
If you would like to know more about the different options available, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to call me on 07899 957130. You can also keep up-to-date with all my latest news on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.