Everything you need to know to participate in your first dog show


You fell head over heels in love with your new COVID rescue dog, and now you wonder if you are the only human who firmly believes that he is the most beautiful and intelligent example of his breed in the world. world history.

There is only one way to find out: a dog show!

But before you trot your pooch through this minefield of abject discipline and ruthless judgment – we saw a few minutes of this Westminster story on TV – there are a few things you human need to know.

Dog shows are aggressively formatted, drawing on a tradition that began in 1850s England and still retains a whiff (so it’s that smell) of its prim-and-properness arc. Victorian origins. The idea behind them was, and is, to see if a purebred dog was indeed the perfect specimen for that breed, and therefore ideal for breeders.

Which is why dog ​​show judges are so adamant about the details: height, weight, proportion of it all, teeth, musculature, and the way the dog moves must all meet a rigorous standard. Even infinitesimal variations will cost the dog dearly when it comes to judging. Oh, and your dog doesn’t have to be spayed or neutered because breeding is the key.

In recent years, the American Kennel Club (AKC) – basically the national governing body, although it does hold competitions – has sanctioned mixed breed shows for dogs not eligible for the most popular purebred competitions. of the AKC. This is likely a response to increased pressure to help eliminate “puppy mills” from the breeding industry – and breeding and breeding – and the sale of purebred dogs. . Not only does inbreeding create health problems in the offspring, but millions of mixed breed dogs are killed each year in shelters due to a lack of suitable homes.

So, want to show off your dog? Listen :

Consider your dog’s mood.

“A dog naturally needs to have a calm and confident personality before it is even considered a show dog,” explains Jeanie Bieniek, longtime master dog trainer and canine behavior therapist.

“They should also never show signs of aggression or reactivity with people or other dogs. There are a lot of show dogs that do well in homes, but most family dogs wouldn’t do well as show dogs.

Train early.

To get the most out of your new dog, “it’s best to start training the puppies as soon as you bring them home,” says Bieniek, who also owns the Bark Busters Home Dog Training franchise in Northern Virginia. “Puppies need to understand their new surroundings and their relationship to you. The sooner you start, the better your puppy will adapt to their new home. For older dogs, “I would also recommend training as soon as possible. A new dog needs to understand his new owner and the rules of his new home to feel comfortable.

© JackF / stock.adobe.com

Treat your dog like a dog.

It’s reasonable that you still think your new pet is a potential winner, but your enthusiasm can blind you to the right approach to dog breeding.

“One of the biggest mistakes new owners make with their dog is to treat their dog like it’s a human child,” says Bieniek. “We are not dogs, and dogs are not humans!” People need to learn to understand and communicate with their dog the same way their dog understands the world.

Don’t let your new canine love own the house.

You, the human, must take control. “Another common mistake is to simply let your dog run free in your house without any guidance or structure on how to behave in his house. Dogs need to be guided and structured in their lives, ”warns Bieniek.

“People quickly get the affection and love from their dog that they need as a human, but often don’t give their dog the guidance and structure they need as a dog,” says she. “A relationship with a dog should go both ways. “

Dog show fails

  • The Jack Russell terrier Olly managed to get into the famous Crufts show in England only to collapse completely when it was time to show his agility. During his 2017 run through the obstacle course – something he had practiced time and time again – he fell props, jumped coins, and at one point crossed a jump bar and planted his face, sliding several feet on his head and back. He was doing fine. Has Olly gone viral? Did you have to ask?
  • At the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show 2017, Mia the Beagle challenged her handler in the obstacle portion of the show and performed her routine as a freelance, at impressive heights. Stopping to sniff his own butt was a stumbling block. Has she been seen over a million times on YouTube? Did you have to ask?
  • In the 2018 Crufts agility competition, Tinklebury, a 4 year old Butterfly, stopped the show by, literally, shutting down the show. She just stood there watching adoringly as her companion, Melinda, begged her to jump, jump, go, jump. She didn’t jump.
  • At the 2014 Crufts, Lucas, a Saluki, went through the first tube of the course and then at full speed in the stands.
  • Here’s one you can try at home. A dog show in Finland rolls out a mat and places dog toys and food bowls on the sides the entire length of the path. The idea is to let go of the dog and have it come to the handler without stopping to snack or play. In 2014, an unnamed Golden Retriever – you imagine he knows the rules – hilariously didn’t get past the first tempting treat.
jack russell eating
© Pixel-Shot / stock.adobe.com

About this expensive dog food

New dog owners are faced with a bewildering number of food choices that we didn’t have in the “good old days” of pet owners. For our pooches, there was canned Alpo and, for special days, Gravy Train, those inimitable dry nuggets which, when added with water, turned into soggy croquettes soup. Either they ate it or they didn’t and it was like that.

Well times have changed! These days, grocery stores and specialty pet retailers have rows and rows of dog bologna-style refrigerated bags, cans, pouches and tubes, all marketed to look like something you would find in the shop. human’s plate in the fancy. French restaurant. Really, there are pictures of celery on some brands. What dog craves celery?

But as we now know, our beloved dogs are… sensitive. Dog foods these days are designed to provide clean nutrition in formulations that tackle everything from chronic digestive issues to allergies. Grain-free, beef-free, chicken-free and more options are on the table. Or in the bowl.

“Good nutrition is very important for dogs,” says Jeanie Bieniek of Bark Busters. “Food affects a dog’s health and energy level, and can even affect his behavior.”

Dog food prices range from 75 cents or less a box to $ 4.50 or more. Is the more expensive the better?

“What goes into dog food is more important than its cost,” explains Bieniek. “Do your own research and don’t rely solely on the marketing of dog food companies to make your decisions. “

Your veterinarian can help you with these decisions, depending on your dog’s particular strengths, weaknesses, and dietary needs. You just have to ask.

This story first appeared in our October issue. For more stories like this subscribe to our monthly magazine.


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