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How To Train Your Dog For Dog Shows

How To Train Your Dog For Dog Shows

We humans have always been close with dogs and breeding them for ages. Thus, dog breeding has come a long way and produced breeds that have unique physical traits much to the delight of everyone. Most towns and cities have livestock shows, cat shows and, of course, dog shows.

A show dog may come from any breed, and the shows aim to find the dogs with the best aesthetic quality, bloodlines and training. And the trainers and handlers come from different backgrounds and lifestyles.

You could hire a trainer or handler for your dog, but nothing beats the feeling of training and handling your own dog. This can further strengthen the bond between the dog and master. The dog comes to trust you, and you trust the dog such that you become an excellent team.

Show dogs compete in shows organized by clubs or organizations all over the world. In America, the oldest organization which organizes dog shows goes by the name Kennel Club, which was established in 1877.

Dog Shows

Dog shows are a popular and fun activity for dog owners. They differ in type, nature and location. While most dog shows are indoors, some are held outdoors or even in large spaces or arenas. Some dog shows may only cater to purebreds or only one breed. These shows have obstacle courses and obedience tests to see how exemplary a dog is and just how great the trainer or handler is.

A dog show is a type of competition in which purebred dogs are judged on the basis of their physical perfection as evaluated by breed standards and certain performance criteria such as agility, tracking, obedience and herding. Dogs go through a series of elimination rounds to determine if they meet the standards required for each round. Just like most contests, the final round determines which dog is deemed worthy of being declared as the winner. The highest award given to the winner is a title called Best in Show.

Why the Need for Dog Shows?

We naturally enjoy showcasing the talents and beauty of our beloved dogs to an adoring public. The goal of these shows is to steal the heart of the audience. There is no assurance that expensive purebred dogs will always win the awards in dog shows. All dog owners can enter their dogs into competitions as long as they meet the standards required by contest rules.

Upon entering the contest, dogs are classified according to their breeds. Those having similar physical appearance, traits, and characteristics are grouped together. They could either be categorized under large, small or fancy breeds. Similarly, the age of the dog also plays a role in classifying them. They could be grouped as puppies or adults. This is important since puppies will not have yet met the ideal standards set for adults.

Just like any show, it begins with the breed specific competition. Dogs under the same breed compete with each other at different levels. Unique to each breed is their breeding standards which will be used to judge them. These standards can include ideal breed size and breed personality. Sometimes dogs are eliminated for being too unruly and disobedient in the show.

Often the awards that are given at these shows increase the worth of the offspring sired by champion dogs or born from champion mothers. This is often the most common reason why some dog owners enter contests with the hope of winning the much coveted “Best in Show” title.

Getting Prepared For The Show

Taking part in a dog show is no easy task. This requires careful study and planning. The moment you decide to be part of a dog show, your choice of breed and breeder already determines how you will fare in the future. Ask the breeder all the questions you can think of before deciding on the breed. Do some research and read as much as you can on the topic.

As time passes, your puppy will try to get used to you and its new environment. This is a good time to start bonding with your puppy and start training it for the show as this will help it develop its confidence as time progresses. Try not to use force or any harmful methods as this can traumatize your puppy. Give your puppy time to fully learn what you are teaching. Try to make your puppy friendly and comfortable with other people. This will help you in the future when you enter dog shows.


For every correct move and command obeyed, always reward your dog. Some people use treats but this is not always recommended, especially when you run out of food. A simple voice trick is the key. Dogs respond to voice commands and our actions. Showing them how happy we are always produce positive results.


Never neglect grooming. A well-groomed dog is always favored in the show. See to it that your dog is well-maintained and groomed. His coat must be shiny, soft and smooth.


You must learn how to discipline your dog. Discipline is very important so your dog knows how to behave in the show. If it’s time for work, then your dog has to work. If it’s playtime, then your dog can play all it wants. Your dog can be playful when you are around but should learn not to fight and mess around with other dogs at the show.

1. Eligibility to Participate

Before you invest time and effort in training your dog for a show, make sure that your dog is eligible to participate in the dog shows you intend to enter. Also keep in mind that each show organization may have different entry criteria.

  • Your dog must also be recognized and registered as a purebred with the appropriate breed club. If your dog is not a purebred, it can enter contests organized by mixed-breed dog clubs.
  • Your dog must conform to breed guidelines set by the appropriate breed club. If you bought your dog from a breeder, they may have already registered the dog. If not, you’ll need to contact the breed club directly.
  • Your dog must not have any disqualifying faults as set by its breed’s parent organization.
  • Your dog must be in good health with up-to-date vaccinations.

2. Attend Some Dog Shows

As you prepare, it’s advisable to attend some dog shows to get a better feeling of what goes on in those shows, especially the ones that cater to your chosen breed so you can get familiar with different things happening during the show and learn what to expect when you enter your dog. Be a keen observer during the show. Observe how dogs are handled, how handlers carry themselves, and the atmosphere inside the ring. It is also very important to observe what the judges are looking for and how they do the judging during the show.

Attending some dog shows is a good way to get familiar with the entire process and gather valuable information about preparing your dog. You can also obtain some information on entering your dog and training classes offered by the club organizing the show.

3. Get the Right Lead

When your dog walks into the ring, you’ll need to have it on the right kind of leash or “lead.” The sooner you get one of these, the earlier your dog can get comfortable with being on it.

  • For small dogs, you can use a Resco style “all in one” collar with a lead. It is easy to use with a slider to keep it snug on the dog’s neck.
  • For medium sized dogs, you can use a martingale lead which provides more control over the animal. These kind of leads are snug enough to keep your dog’s head from slipping out but don’t tighten around its neck like a choke collar. You can use it to train your dog to keep its head up while showing judges its gait and stacking.
  • For larger dog breeds, many handlers use chain show leads. These type of leads also help your dog to keep its head up and control it in the ring.

4. Enter Your Dog in a Local Ring Craft Class

A ring craft class can be a great help in getting your dog ready for the show. Although not necessary, it is highly recommended as ring craft classes can help you socialize your dog with other people and dogs. This is where trainers often help dogs get ready for the show and teach them to walk on a lead without being distracted by other dogs. Ring craft classes can also be a great source of information about dog shows and a good opportunity to meet other dog owners.

Training Your Show Dog

Every dog owner would want his or her dog to win the highest award at the show. But before your dog can happily trot to victory, it needs to be trained for the stage to seal the success. Often people use handlers to train their dogs for them, but as dog owners we could also train our dogs. After all, we already have a close bond with them.

Training dogs is fairly simple as long as you have the determination and patience to do so. If properly done, a simplified training procedure is extremely helpful for most beginners.

Stack or Stand Squarely and Still

Dogs can either be “hand stacked” or “free stacked”. The specific stance your dog should take will vary by breed. Your dog will have to stack several times during the show. You can let your dog “free stack” most of the time, but you should try to hand stack your dog right before the examination by the judges to ensure the best possible stance for the dog.

To stack a dog is to cause him to pose in a way that best displays his strong points to the judges. “Hand stacking” means to physically manipulate the dog into position; in “free stacking” the handler gets the dog to stack by use of bait, commands, signals, or a tug on the lead.

Hand Stack

In hand stacking, you manually place each leg of the dog in position while standing or kneeling next to the dog. To train your dog for hand stacking, use a treat in one hand covering it partially so the dog can only nibble on it while you adjust the position of the dog’s feet with the other hand. Adjust the dog’s front legs first while keeping one hand on the dog at all times. Then adjust the back legs at the hock without letting the dog to shift its entire body. Repeat this procedure until your dog is comfortable with it. Finally, teach your dog to maintain that position while pulling the treat away for a moment. If your dog holds its position, affirm it and let it nibble on the treat. If it doesn’t, restack the dog and try again.

Choose the position that best fits your dog and be consistent with it during the training. The dog has to stay in position for at least 2-3 minutes at a time or as deemed necessary by the judges.

Free Stack

In free stacking, your dog takes a position by command, signal, bait, or a tug on the lead as opposed to manual positioning while you stand close to the dog. To train your dog for free stacking, click and reward your dog when it stands on command. Keep doing this until your dog assumes the stand position on its own. Next is the “back up” command. Click and reward any backward movement where your dog’s back legs align until it gets perfect. Then teach your dog to align its front legs using the “step” command. Again, click and reward your dog when it moves forward towards you until your dog’s front legs align properly. Once your dog responds to “back up” and “step” commands correctly, you can teach it the “stack” command. To do this, click and reward your dog every time it assumes the correct position on the “stack” command.

Canine Gaiting

Train your dog to move in a way that allows the judges to see its movements and structure clearly. This is often called canine gaiting. Trotting is the correct gait with the head up as this is the best way to show the dog’s structure to the judges. You should adjust the pace of your dog according to its size. This can take some time but practice is the key.

Use treats to entice your dog to follow you without a lead. The dog should learn to stay at your left side. Once your dog feels comfortable wearing the collar and walking beside you, attach a show lead to the dog’s collar and walk your dog a short distance at a trotting pace while holding the other end of the lead. Repeat this process while increasing the distance each time. If your dog gets aggressive and fights the lead, stop and try to lure it with treats to come towards you.


We all want our dog to look happy, alert and beautiful when stacked. So all breeds must have pose in a way that best displays their strong points to the judges. The collar and the bait are the means to accomplish this. The collar keeps the dog still while the bait quickly gets its attention.

Practice Group

On the day of the contest, dogs that are not familiar with other dogs and people will be a major problem not only for the owner but also for everyone present in the area. So find a practice class or have fun matches for that matter.

Physical Examination

The physical appearance of your dog, its ears, teeth, bone structure, feet and tail are physically examined by the judges during the show. Your dog must get used to strangers touching it. So you must teach your dog to tolerate examination by the judges. To get your dog accustomed to this, start examining your dog regularly when it is a puppy in a way similar to those done by the judges. Finally, when your dog feels comfortable with your examination, bring in another person and ask him or her to do the same. This way, your dog will feel more comfortable when it is touched by strangers.

Taking Care Of Your Show Dog

There are two factors to consider when it comes to taking care of your show dog, that is, health and nutrition. Show dogs are not just dogs; they are first and foremost your pets and part of your family. Many dogs consider their owners as family and will do anything for them. Just don’t abuse this kind of bond on account of a dog contest.

  • Dogs act pretty much in a certain routine throughout the day. If possible, you shouldn’t let them go outside of their usual routine. Sticking to a certain routine will develop your dog’s good habits and thus making it easier for you to train and discipline it for the shows.
  • You should feed your dog twice a day at the same time every day. After eating, you must send your dog to the potty to maintain regular bowel movement as this is very essential during the shows and while on travel.
  • At all times, you must keep your dog’s coat clean and nice. A good scrub and bath for an ordinary dog may be great but this may not be enough for a show dog. Utmost attention must be given to the appearance of your dog in order to meet the standards set by the contest rules.
  • You must exercise your dog regularly. Its muscles and feet need plenty of exercise, especially if they are going to compete in a contest. Let your dog run and trot all it wants each day to flex and stretch its muscles. Just be careful not to let your dog get injured as dogs tend to be very curious.
  • Proper diet is extremely vital as this will determine the overall health of your dog. Always follow the recommendations of your vet. Show dogs need nutritious food just as much as an ordinary pet. Just be sure that your dog does not get overweight or fat.
  • Be sure that your dog is properly vaccinated and taken to the vet for a routine checkup on a regular basis. Check for ticks and lice as well.

Feeding Your Dog

Dogs can be fussy about their food. Animal nutritionists devote their time and effort to making the best dog food for them. We cannot just feed show dogs any food we deem edible. They require nutritionally rich, good quality food. Some show dogs may not be allowed to eat certain foods as this can affect their coat adversely.

Remember that most commercial dog foods are made from stuff which is not suitable for human consumption. Cheaper dog foods generally include less meat and more meat by-products and grain fillers. More expensive dog foods use better quality ingredients.

Allergic skin disease, obesity, food intolerance, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic ear infections, cystitis (bladder inflammation), bladder and kidney stones, certain heart diseases, pancreatitis, feline hyperthyroidism, hip dysplasia, canine mammary cancer, bloat, and diabetes all have nutritional factors that are suspected or known to play a role in inducing or perpetuating these diseases. So you must pay close attention to what you feed your dog and how it reacts to it.

Nowadays you have so many choices when it comes to dog food. Just make sure that the food you select for your dog will meet its nutritional needs. If you are not sure about how to feed your show dog, consult local your vet. Dogs must be in excellent health when they enter the show ring. Their coat and expression will tell a lot about their health.

Types Of Dog Shows

Dog shows vary in various respects. Some are held indoors, at an arena or an open field and some others at small and confined spaces. The location depends upon the nature of the show since large dog breeds requires bigger spaces as compared to smaller ones.

You must be careful about selecting the dog show you want to enter. You cannot just enter your dog in any dog show and expect to win. It is advisable to do some research pertaining to the nature of the show selected ahead of time. Call and ask the organizer of the show about the nature of their show, prizes to be awarded and breeds as some shows cater to certain breeds only.

Tests and Trials

Certain dog breeds are sporty in nature. Breeds like German Shepherd and Doberman are high jumpers, agile and fast runners. Golden Retrievers and Labradors are known for their love of discs and jumping. Terriers are known for their obedience. Whatever their training or instincts are, they will be judged by how they are able to deliver what is required of them. Regardless of how they were trained, the dogs and their trainers must prove to the spectators their obedience and abilities. Most common examples of these shows include dog sports and earthdog trials.

Fund Shows

Dog shows likewise could be used as fundraisers. Charities organize dog shows as they appeal to young and old alike. They give prizes to things that are often overlooked in some other dog shows. Their awards include Most Obedient Dog, Smallest Dog, Youngest Dog, Look Alike and Best in Costumes. Sometimes they cater to young audiences rather than adults.

Conformation Shows

In these shows, we see champion breeds and experts on specific breeds. Purebreds are the most common entries seen in these shows. Often judging is done individually putting emphasis on the conformity of dogs to breed standards. Both handlers and dogs undergo judging during the show for their appearance, especially proper dog grooming is very important.

Dog Show Categories

As indicated by the American Kennel Club (AKC), it is vital to know what the club’s standards are. Only the Best of Breed winners advance to compete in the group competitions. Each AKC recognized breed falls into one of the following seven group classifications:

  • Sporting
  • Hound
  • Working
  • Terrier
  • Toy
  • Non-Sporting
  • Herding

Four placements are awarded in each group, but only the first-place winner advances to the Best in Show competition.

The Seven Groups in All Breed Shows

Here are the seven group winners that are brought into the ring where they compete for Best in Show, the highest award given at a dog show.

1. Sporting

These dogs were bred to hunt game birds both on land and in water. The breeds in this group include Pointers, Retrievers, Setters and Spaniels.

2. Hounds

These breeds were bred for hunting other game by sight or scent. These breeds include Beagles, Bassets, Dachshunds and Greyhounds.

3. Working

These dogs were bred to pull carts, guard property and perform search and rescue services. Among the breeds in this group are Akita, Boxer, Doberman Pinscher and St. Bernard.

4. Terrier

This group includes breeds such as Airedale, Cairn Terrier and Scottish Terrier. Terriers were bred to rid property of vermin such as rats.

5. Toy

These dogs were bred to be household companions. This group includes small dogs such as Chihuahua, Maltese, Pomeranian and Pug.

6. Non-Sporting

This diverse group of dogs includes Chow Chow, Bulldog, Dalmatian and Poodle. These dogs vary in size and function, and many are considered companion dogs.

7. Herding

These dogs were bred to help shepherds and ranchers herd their livestock. Briard, Collie, German Shepherd and Old English Sheepdog are some of the breeds in this group.

Colors of Ribbons Awarded

Each dog that receives an award is given a ribbon by the judges. The color of the ribbon indicates the type of award the dog has won.


Awarded to the first place in any regular class. Also awarded to the winner of each group competition, usually in the form of a rosette.


Awarded to the second place in each class. Also awarded to the second place in each group competition, usually in the form of a rosette.


Awarded to third place in each class. Also awarded to the third place in each group competition, usually in the form of a rosette.


Awarded to the fourth place in each class, usually in the form of a rosette.


Awarded to the winners of the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch classes.

  • Winners Dog is the class dog who has defeated all other class dogs of that breed at the show.
  • Winners Bitch is the class bitch who has defeated all other class bitches of that breed at the show.

Since these are the classes in which championship points are awarded, these ribbons are highly coveted. Then, Winners Dog and Winners Bitch compete with the champions for the Best of Breed award.

Purple and White

Awarded to Reserve Winners; that is, the runners-up to the winner of the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch classes.

Blue and White

Awarded to the dog that wins the Best of Winners award; that is, the better of the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch winners.

Purple and Gold

Awarded to the dog judged Best of Breed in each breed competition. This is highly coveted because it allows advancement to the group competition.

Red and White

Awarded to the Best of Opposite Sex. This means the best dog of the breed is the opposite sex of the Best of Breed winner.

What The Judges Look For In Dogs?

Shows, breeding clubs and registries have set up standards which are used in judging dogs during shows or competitions. Dogs may be grouped by sex or size. Sometimes they are divided into classes such as puppy, open class or breed. Still they could be further categorized depending on the discretion of the judges or organizers. The characteristics of each breed are described in the standards which also cover structure, temperament and movement. It is important that only experts act as judges in the shows as they know what to look for in dogs.

Judges carefully examine each dog with their hands according to a certain set of criteria as prescribed in the breed’s official standards. This is done to see if the breed standards are met by the dog as evidenced by its teeth, muscles, bones and coat. This is why it is important that show dogs must already be used to strangers touching them. Dogs that get uncomfortable by being touched can pose a serious threat to judges.

Balance is also extremely important in judging. When the dog starts gaiting, the judges will check the balance and structure of its body. Gait of the dog must be in harmony with the body and structure of the animal. Often the judges will ask the handlers or owners to trot their dogs to carefully check their gait. The best way to see how they all fit is to see the dog in motion.

The winners are given awards such as Best Puppy, Best Female, Best Male and others. Then the winners compete against each other for the Best in Breed title. The “Best in Breed” winners from each group advance to the semifinal round where they compete with other dogs in the group. Usually, around six to seven dogs will remain to compete for the Best in Show award.

Why Smaller Breeds?

When entering a dog show, it is better start with smaller breeds as they are easier to handle and train. They also need smaller space and less attention compared to larger breeds which allows the dog owner to own more than one breed at a time without having to worry about their needs being neglected.

Small dogs like Pugs, Chihuahuas, Toy Poodles and Terriers are the favored breeds. They are obedient, mild tempered and easy to train compared to large breeds. Similarly, small dogs require only small crates when transporting them from one place to another. Also, this makes it easier for the dog owner to handle them. With smaller breeds, usually it is the owners themselves who handle their dogs.

Especially, new participants find it easy and advantageous to enter the show with smaller breeds as opposed to large ones. In some shows where they require dogs to be bathed and groomed, one dog owner could finish these tasks in a much shorter time compared to large ones. Also, when grooming them, less space is required since a single table may accommodate two dogs if the two get along well.

When having small dogs, it is not as strenuous for the handler when the dog is required to trot, as its strides are not as big as those of large breeds. This makes the handler not to exert extra effort in keeping pace with the dog. Also, the atmosphere in the shows catering to small breeds is more relaxed compared to large ones.

What To Do On The Show Day?

  • On the big day, show up early like an hour or so before the scheduled start time. This will help your dog settle in the venue prior to the start of the show. It is important that when you arrive at the competition venue, your dog is perfectly groomed and ready for the show.
  • To make sure that your dog is well groomed, you should take the right type of equipment with you depending on the breed of your dog. Poodles require a lot more expertise and equipment to groom than German Shorthair Pointer. A minimum requirement for most people is a grooming table and a kit with brushes, wipe rags, and so on.
  • Bring water bottles and containers for your dogs. As the show progresses, your dog will get thirsty and restless. Have water on hand so you can give your dog some water when it is thirsty. Make sure that you store them in a secure place. Nothing beats a cautious dog owner during a show. Sometimes some dog owners will do whatever they can to make their dogs win.
  • Wear flat-heeled shoes for running in the ring and comfortable clothes with pockets to hold treats and combs that are suitable for bending over and squatting down. Don’t wear the same color clothing as your dog’s coat so the judges can see the animal easily.
  • Avoid dangling necklaces or flowing, long skirts that could flap in the dog’s face. Outfits generally tend to get more formal in the higher rounds.
  • Once you have settled, get a brochure to have more information about the show and other breeds, handlers and nature of the succeeding events.
  • Watch your dog at all times, outside and inside the ring, because even if your dog is a “good dog”, other dogs may not be. Be on the lookout for restless and unruly dogs. You don’t want your dog to be disturbed by them.
  • Having a good crate for your dog is also necessary. This will be very important when carrying your dog to and from the ring. Always bear in mind the size of your dog when buying a crate. So make sure your dog will be comfortable in its crate.
  • Always leave the grounds tidy and make sure that you clean up the litter after yourself and your dog.
  • If you win a reward, make sure to document your success with a camera. This is something you must get on video. This will also serve as a proof of your win in case your documents or records are lost.

What Goes On In A Dog Show?

The American Kennel Club (AKC) is the one that sets the standards for the dog shows. To fully understand what really goes on during the show, you must carefully examine the rules of the AKC.

Males and females compete separately within their respective breeds, in seven regular classes. The following classes are offered and are divided by sex:

  • Puppy – Dogs between six and twelve months of age that are not yet champions (optional class).
  • Twelve to Eighteen Months – Dogs twelve to eighteen months of age that are not yet champions (optional class).
  • Novice – Dogs six months of age and over, which have not, prior to the date of closing of entries, won three first prizes in the Novice Class, a first prize in Bred-by-Exhibitor, American Bred, or Open Classes, nor one or more points toward their championship (optional class).
  • Amateur – Owner – Handler – Dogs that are at least six months of age that are not champions. Dogs must be handled in the class by the registered owner of the dog and is limited to exhibitors who have not, at any point in time, been a professional dog handler, AKC approved conformation judge, or employed as an assistant to a professional handler (optional class).
  • Bred By Exhibitor – Dogs that are exhibited by their owner and breeder that are not yet champions (optional class).
  • American Bred – Dogs born in the United States from a mating which took place in the United States that are not yet champions (mandatory class).
  • Open – Dog of any breed, at least 6 months of age (mandatory class).

All the dogs that won first place in a class compete again to see whose dog is the best among the winning dogs. Males and females are judged separately. Only the best male (Winners Dog) and the best female (Winners Bitch) receive championship points. Winners Dog and Winners Bitch then compete with the champions for the Best of Breed award. At the end of the Best of Breed Competition, three awards are usually given:

  • Best of Breed – The dog judged as the best in its breed category.
  • Best of Winners – The dog judged as the better of Winners Dog and Winners Bitch.
  • Best of Opposite Sex – The best dog that is the opposite sex to the Best of Breed winner.

Dog shows follow a process of elimination, with one dog being named Best in Show at the end of the show.

Which Show Dog Is For You?

The moment you take a puppy home, you already know what show it will be competing in. How a puppy looks will not be the major consideration as most puppies will look really cute and cuddly at that age. But after they start growing, that cute and cuddly look will disappear. It might be a problem if you have made the wrong choice.

Make sure that in choosing the breed, it must be the right one for you. Even if you like certain breeds but are unsure if you could take care of it, don’t force the issue. Large and small breeds have their pros and cons. Some large breeds may move slowly, but they need large space while small breeds are mischievous but could be confined in a small space.

A knowledgeable and aspiring dog owner is more likely to choose the right breed to be the winner at dog shows. You can request information from various dog breeders, clubs and experts online. One could also visit the local canine clubs for expert advice on what breed to chose.

You may also consult dog owners about the breed you are interested in. They could help you in choosing the right show dog. They could also help you in various other ways as they have experience from their long years of taking care of their dogs.

Once you have made your decision and bring a puppy home, be sure that everything is already prepared so as to not stress it on its first days with you. Treat your puppy with care especially during the first few weeks which are extremely vital in creating that special bond with you. As your puppy gets more mature, you can start training it for the shows. Some people start training puppies even when they are just a few months old to familiarize them with the different things happening inside the ring.

Bear in mind that when you buy a puppy, always check its papers. When owning a show dog, the papers are very important, especially when tracing the pedigree of your dog. The papers also inform you as to the vaccination and health issues of the puppy.

Selecting A Dog Show

Being new in the field, you will not have much experience and knowledge on dog shows. This is just natural as almost every dog show expert has also been through the same process. Questions upon questions will be going through your mind as the big day approaches.

One key point to being good in the show is proper knowledge and the guts to ask help from other dog owners who have been in the shows for years. They can provide advice on what show is best for beginners. After you enter some dog shows and gain experience, you will be prepared for more challenging shows.

Gather as much information as possible about the dog shows and their schedules in your area at the start of the year. This will give you some idea as to the preparation time for the big event. As a newbie, you might have to look for the schedules yourself, but if you are already part of a breeder club, the club itself can provide you with their show schedule.

When choosing a show, try to find out if your dog meets the standards set by the show. Otherwise, it will be a waste of time and effort preparing for a dog show where your dog will not be able to compete.

Don’t hesitate to ask the organizers some questions to learn more about their shows. They will be more than happy to answer your questions. Attend some dog shows prior to joining one. This will give you an idea of what to expect during a show. This is what your future competitors might actually be doing. As you attend some shows, they will be announcing the upcoming schedules of their future shows which will give you ample time to prepare for them.

You could also check for show details and schedules online. However, don’t rush in entering any shows when you are not yet ready. Careful planning and preparation are extremely vital in increasing your chances of success. Usually a year will be enough to gain sufficient knowledge and experience about dog shows. By that time, you will be well-equipped to face your future competitors.

Tips To Remember

Nothing beats practice. This is the most important factor when preparing for a show. It is very advisable to bring your dogs to the ring every day. Walk them around the ring to make them feel at ease when the big day comes. Familiarity with the ring will help you and your dog have a trouble-free show. Also take note of what pacing is most suitable for your dog breed.

On the big day, your dog will be exposed to strangers and most especially to a judge who will be doing a “go over”. This can be stressful for your dog if it is not used to strangers touching him. This can be resolved by letting fellow dog owners and friends do a “go over” with your dog as this will make him more comfortable with strangers and put it at ease.

Some places offer activities that will allow you and your dog to meet other dogs. There are also socializing classes wherein your puppy or dog could learn things like the do’s and don’ts of the ring training. Such activities and classes could help improve your dog’s behavior and form new friendships.

Don’t hesitate to ask your local vet for help or information as to how to prepare your dog for the big show. Also, your veterinarian can offer you advice as to the proper grooming of your dog. Judges are very particular about the appearance and grooming of dogs. So it is vital that you have enough information about how to make your dog impress the judges.

Check out the activities of the dog training clubs in your area. You can join them as this will help you and your dog become familiar with the actual dog show. You could learn a lot from these activities that will be of great aid in training your dog for the big day.

American Kennel Club Match Program

AKC Match Shows provide an excellent opportunity to socialize your dog in an informal and relaxing dog show environment, while interacting with other dog lovers.

Match Shows offer Conformation, Obedience, Rally or Agility events for dog show enthusiasts where you can use these events as a practice opportunity for your dog. You can also get guidance and feedback from seasoned trainers, handlers, judges or new dog owners. Match Shows can be fun to watch or participate. If you want to participate, however, you must enter your dog’s registration information.

Dog Handlers

Not everyone can be a dog handler. Dog handlers are people who undergo specialized training and have the skills in the given field. These are the people we see during dog shows who present the dogs to the judges. They are professionals who offer their services to dog owners. The handlers’ responsibilities differ with each owner. Some may have to train dogs while others would just simply handle trained dogs. Likewise, they are also in charge of grooming the dogs.

Dog handlers are not only found in dog shows. We find them in the military and police force, rescue missions, herding livestock such as cattle, sheep, ducks and geese, assisting the handicapped and blind as guide dogs, and working as therapy dogs for people who need therapy at old homes, hospitals and rehabilitation centers.


Raising a show dog is not an easy task. The success of raising a show dog depends on the dog owner’s passion and dedication to train his or her dog. The training must not be scary for the dog but it should provide a positive experience for both the dog and the owner. Also, expert advice given by local club members and dog owners are extremely vital in raising a show dog.

Show dogs have special needs in terms of health and nutrition. Careful observation of their attitude tells a lot as to how they feel and the condition they are in. Proper nutrition is very important as, among other things, it affects the condition of its coat. Dull-looking coats could mean they are under nourished or deprived of essential nutrients.

Proper grooming of your dog is also very important. It never hurts to invest in your dog’s grooming and equipment. After all, these help make your show dog the best in his field.

Before taking your dog to a major dog show, try showing your dog with a local club. This can be a fun activity for you and your dog, a good way to determine if your dog is ready for the big shows.

When entering a dog show, learn as much as you can about the event, breeds and handlers. It would be great if you could be a step ahead of them as they will be your competitors once you enter the ring. It becomes a whole new world once you are in the ring. When you enter the ring, you should have only one goal, that’s, to win the highest award.

Remember, champion dogs and their trainers were not made overnight. They were in fact in the same situation as you are now years ago. So be patient and keep practicing until you are successful. And when you win, there is no greater feeling than receiving that coveted award.

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