How to prepare your dog for a dog show

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Information on preparing a dog for an AKC dog show, including grooming, obedience training, and health tips and suggestions.

What pet owner does not love his dog?

Even if the dog never contributes a thing to society, we love them like children. But when your pet brings in hundreds or thousands of dollars a year from dog shows, that’s an even bigger reason to love him. If your dog is AKC registered, he can compete in most dog shows and maybe walk away with the grand prize, or at least a ribbon of recognition.  

prepare your dog for a dog show

If you have intentions of showing your dog, you must start preparing early, when the dog is a pup. At any show, the dogs must be perfectly groomed, flawlessly mannered, and display absolute obedience. The dogs must be healthy, seem happy, and show no signs of nervousness. The winner of any major dog show will not only have these attributes but will also behave well at home, in public, or around other dogs and people.

Start with seeing that your pet receives proper nutrition, vitamins, and physical check-ups. Your vet can make recommendations on diet and vitamins, along with seeing that the pet receives all of its shots, worm medications and flea prevention. One flea and the dog is out of the show, so it’s important that the dog receives the best treatment.

Obedience training should begin early in the pup’s life. There are schools and individual trainers who are qualified to teach the dog what it will need to know. During the show, the dog cannot even turn his head away at the wrong time, or he’ll lose the honors to a better-behaved animal. Get references for the trainer and look into the reputation of the training school.

Choose a groomer that is known for their talents and attention to detail. Again, get references and look into the reputation of the groomer. One bad cut and your dog will have to forfeit the show.

Help your dog adjust to many different noises by taking him to a variety of places. Walk him on the sidewalk next to a lot of traffic. Take him to noisy places whenever you can and at home, clap when he’s followed your instructions. This gets the pet more used to audiences.  

Set up a mock show ring at home, if possible. Practice with your pet in the ring, so he’ll be less nervous on the day of the show. Work with the pet more than a couple hours a day, longer on weekends or whenever you can spare the time. Don’t expect to be slack on your duties, then have the dog win at the show. Dog show winners have months, if not years of constant training and teaching.

Make sure you have read the rules and regulations of any dog show where you will enter your pet. Be sure you have the proper paperwork for the dog, entry fees paid, and any required information about your dog turned in to the proper people. The day of the show, make sure your dog is perfectly groomed, well-fed but not overfed, and be sure and tuck some rewards for your dog in your pocket. This will help while he’s waiting his turn. Reward the dog during the performance, if it’s allowed, each time he completes a command. If your dog doesn’t win, don’t give up hope. Practice and work with your dog even more, and enter him into the next contest.