Dog competitions are fun and exciting to watch. They are not only enjoyable and rewarding to the dog owners but the furry animals as well. If you are a fan of dog shows or canine fashion shows, you might have wondered how these dog handlers could hone the skills of their dogs and how they were able to reach the level where they are already at. Indeed, training dogs and keeping them ready for competitions are not easy. They require a lot of effort, perseverance, and lots of preparation for both the dogs and the owners.
Thinking of joining a dog show competition soon with your furry best friend? Here are some things you can do for a start.
Train the Dog While Young
Training should start the first time the dog enters your home or when it is still a puppy. Puppy training has many benefits, not only to your dog but also to you as the owner. Puppies tend to bite and chew anything that comes into their paths. They also tend to mess around the house by peeing and pooping everywhere. With proper training, these tendencies can be controlled.
Training stimulates a puppy’s mental health. It also strengthens the bond between you and your fur baby. Moreover, it helps calm them down, giving them a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Training for puppies usually involves obedience training, socialization, and agility, all of which help make your furry best friend learn to conduct itself well both inside and outside your home.
Maintain Your Dog’s Health
Competition dogs are often kept in top shape, with shiny fur, long coats, and the physical attributes required of a show dog. Maintaining a dog’s health means giving it proper nutrition, giving it enough exercise, taking it to the vets for regular check-ups, grooming, and giving it the affection it deserves. Sometimes, dogs may also need preventative medications, which help them stay healthy and free from any unwanted problems like tick-borne illnesses, heartworm, and flea-related diseases.
Practice Gaiting with Your Dog
Gaiting is a movement pattern that allows judges to see a dog’s movement and structure while it is on the ring. While there are several gaits that a dog can perform, including trot, gallop, pace, amble, canter, and walk, trotting is usually the most accepted type of gait during competitions.
This is because trotting shows the dog’s true structure at its best. The dog should look confident in his gait, and he should keep his eyes on the direction he is taking while at the same time keeping his attention on the handler and the judges. If you find it hard to train your dog on this aspect, you can always ask assistance from a professional dog trainer who has handled many show dogs in the past.
Train Your Dog to Hand Stack
Hand stacking is the process of correctly showing a dog’s best advantage to the judges while it is in the show ring. Hand stacking may be different for every dog breeds, so you need to do minimal research first about what type of hand stack your dog must have during its presentation in the ring. Basically, the dog’s head is expected to face forward while the handler controls the dog’s head. Control is done by either holding the dog’s head or its collar.
Often, the dog needs to be walked into the stack to put it in a good position; then, you can set its front legs. Note that you can use your own strategies in setting your dog’s four legs. Many handlers set up their dog’s left front legs first, followed by the right front legs, and then the left rear leg followed by the right rear leg. But you can always use a different method, whichever suits you best. Just remember to be systematic, methodical, and deliberate when setting the legs.
Register with the American Kennel Club
Once you are certain that your dog is trained enough and already has the quality of a show dog, you can then register your dog at the American Kennel Club. You can also join a dog club in your local area. Such clubs may offer certain classes for show dogs, which can benefit you in many ways.
There are different types of dog shows that you can let your canine friend compete in. These include single-breed shows, group shows, match shows, companion shows, and general shows. They also come in different levels, namely open, limited, premiere, and championship dog shows. You can start with the limited dog shows first if you are new to such competitions, then gradually join other levels as you and your dog get the hang of dog show competitions.