10 Tips for Your First Pet Show or Competition
A competitive dog show involves a presentation of purebred dogs (although our favorite mutts are starting to carve out their own categories!). These delightful events are basically beauty pageants for dogs. It’s mostly just for fun and an excuse to watch a bunch of cute dogs, but the real purpose of dog shows is to evaluate quality breeding and the integrity of a breed. It’s the crème de la crème of dog breeds and if you’re interested in joining a pet show here are some things you should know.
1. Assess your dog honestly
Everyone thinks their dog is the cutest, and just so were on the same page—Frenchie’s’ are the cutest. But since everyone thinks their dog is the best you should take a step back and be honest. Are there any health concerns, obedience training and/or grooming that needs a second look? Dogs that compete in show competitions are top tier and have little to no flaws. So be honest and try to fix what you can.
2. Do your research
In order to know what you’re up against you should do some research. Watch some shows online, attend some local ones in your area and maybe even join a Facebook group or two. The better sense you get of the community and what pet shows are all about the more prepared you’ll feel when it’s your time to shine.
3. Obedience Training
The dogs that compete in pet shows are extremely well trained. These dogs and their handlers are so in sync with one another and can practically reach each other’s minds. If you don’t feel that in tune with your pup just yet try signing up for some obedience training classes.
Along with obedience training your dog needs to be comfortable being around other dogs and people. Socialization is best to start when their puppies, but even older dogs can become well socialized by going on walks or training classes. Socializing with your dog will help your dog remain focus in any situation.
Dogs that enter pet shows need to have the most up to date grooming. Each breed is different and require different types of grooming. Be sure to do your research on the breed of your dog and how to keep them properly groomed.
Your dog may look good on the outside after a nice grooming session, but your dog must be in their best shape. Nutrition is something that can be easily overlooked but it matters the most! Diet and exercise will help your dog be in their best shape ever! To learn more about how to keep your dog healthy read our blog post “How to Make Smarter Choices for Your Pet’s Health.”
7. Train Hard
Training for a pet show is very different from obedience training. Yes, your dog should listen to your every word, but there are certain criteria in shows that your dog must be able to meet. Things such as standing, running around the ring, sitting, and more. So, train hard so your dog doesn’t miss a beat during the show.
8. Start Out on A Local Level
You don’t need to join the hardest competition out there right from the start. In fact—most likely you can’t! You should definitely research local pet shows and competitions and start out on lower levels before working your way up.
9. Learn the Lingo
With any sport or new hobby there’s a lingo that goes alongside of pet show competitions. Terms such as “gait,” “correct speed,” “staining on fur,” and “rear, front, side movement” are all phrases you should know before joining a competition. During your research phase you’ll have a chance to brush up on this.
10. Have Confidence
Before joining a high-level competition, you need to work on your confidence as a handler. Judges can tell when the human part of the duo is nervous and most importantly—so can the dogs. Dogs feed off the energy their owners give and if you’re not feeling confident neither will they. Don’t compare yourself and your dog to others during the show. Start with the confidence you had at first by saying, “My dog is the best,” and your dog will follow your lead and prove you right!
Be sure to check out our newest Duo Reversable Harnesses when starting to train your pup for a show -- they’re stylish and functional for training!