Dog owners with show dogs know that it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to get a dog pooch-perfect ready. There are millions of dog grooming products on the market, but at the end of the day it’s important to find the ones that work best for you.
Whether you’re just thinking about signing up for dog competitions or you’re a professional handler, this post can help.
In order to show off your dog’s breed standard, you need the right tools, unwavering commitment, and enough stamina to carry you and your dog to the head of the pack.
What to do Before You Sign Up for Great Competitions
If this is your first time in dogs shows, you might be wondering where to start. Many people in the sport of dog conformation come from a long line of folks well-versed in the industry. Don’t let that stop you. Everybody is a newbie at one point or another.
Look for a Mentor
The first place to start is with the breeder. They are the experts in purebred dogs and can help you understand what it means to get your pooch perfect for an upcoming show. Plan so that you have at least six months to get your dog in prime shape.
No matter how well trained your dog is, you’ll want to make sure your dog is highly polished before entering a competition. Your dog should be able to demonstrate all the traits his/her breed was designed for.
Judges will be looking for a “dog’s conformation”. Once in the show ring, a trio of judges looking for specific breed standards including:
Don’t have a purebred dog? No worries. AKC Canine Partners have a place for mixed breed dogs as well.
Look for Performance Clubs through the American Kennel Club. You’ll want to find a club specific to your breed that can help you in training your dog.
Learn as much as you can
You may not be quite ready for the West Minster Kennel Club dog show, but they are a great place to start for learning how a dog show works.
How Do Dog Shows Work?
A competition show consists of three levels. Using the Westminster model, the first level is for Best of Breed or Best of Variety. A judge officiates over a specific class or breed of dog. They then select their winners based on several categories.
The winners of level 1 move on to the next level.
The second level further narrows down the judges’ choices and, finally, seven finalists will advance to Best in Show competition.
Of course, this is a very condensed idea of how dog shows work. Your best resources are with the professionals, people who do this for a living.
It’s always a good idea to become a spectator of dog shows first. Speak with people who’ve been doing this for years. Listen to interviews, join clubs, and even check out things like Facebook groups for better insight.
How to Prepare for the Show
In advance of the show, be sure to re-read the rules, regulations, and expectations for the show. The American Kennel Club is an amazing resource for first-time competitors.
Long before you even get to the show, you’ll want to do everything you can to train your dog so that he shows off his most desirable features.
If this is your first time, the morning of the show is going to be stressful for you and your dog. It is for everybody. The best thing you can do is focus on calming techniques for yourself. The calmer you are, the calmer your dog will be.
Make sure to bring your dog’s favorite treats, some new toys, and anything else (that fall within the rules) to make your dog feel as comfortable as possible. The more your dog gets comfortable with shows, the more relaxed he will become.
Professional Dog Grooming Tips
In the early days of competition, you may want to rely on a professional groomer for your dog. The question is, will that groomer be with you at the competition? As a new dog handler, you’ll need to have a few tricks up your sleeve for last minute touch ups, etc.
Let’s assume you’ve already had your dog in training, your dog is in top condition, and you’ve completed all the forms and registered for the show.
Now, you’re going to want an arsenal of tools at your disposal. Don’t be afraid to ask the groomer for tips on how to best manage your dog’s coat. Every dog has a different coat whether it be long, short, wavy, straight, double-coated, or wiry.
Top Grooming Supplies to Have on Hand
The following are some grooming supplies you may want to have on hand. These can all be purchased online through Pet Pro Supply Company. They offer professional quality supplies at price points that make sense.
Note: As an affiliate for Pet Pro Supply Company, I earn commission from products sold through the links below. When you click on a link, you will be brought to the Pet Pro Supply Company website. I encourage you to research the products that will work best for you and your dog.
DOG SHOW TROLLEY – a Must-Have Item
If you’re entering dog shows, you need a trolley. You’ll be moving around a lot and you’ll want to have everything you need within reach. This is an investment piece that won’t let you down. You want something you can depend on.
Remember to look for an appropriate size. The trolley surface is likely where you’ll groom your dog so make sure your dog fits comfortably. The following carts double as a cage, grooming table, worktable, luggage cart, pet carrier or transporter.
- Multiple color options
- Several Add-ins and accessories to choose from
- Removable center partitions for multiple configurations. Go from a 4 berth down to a 2 berth if necessary.
- 4 doors
- 16” high x 16” wide x 22” deep
When you go click on the link below, you’ll be brought to the Pet Pro Supply Co. website where they offer invaluable suggestions for beginner dog show handlers
Aeolus Dog Show Aluminum Portable Trolley (Two Berths)
Perfect for tiny dogs. Comes in 3 colors (purple, silver, black) and there is also a larger version of the same trolley available.
- Acts as a cage, grooming table, worktable, luggage cart, pet carrier, and more
- Durable and strong
- Folds easily in a compact size to fit any standard car
- Caster wheels that glide easily on any surface
GROOMING SUPPLIES – ACCESSORIES
Dog shampoos, cordless clippers, combs, brushes, scissors, shears, hair dryers and fans are other things you may want to have on hand.
*Don’t forget to get a comfortable orthopedic bed for the cage.
Here are a few of the best places to purchase these items:
This post was just the tip of the iceberg in dog show and grooming advice. If you’re new to dog shows, it’s always a good idea to get a mentor. Read as many different posts as you can. The American Kennel Club is a huge resource, especially for beginners.
It takes time and energy to get into this fun and rewarding sport. Just remember that you will be surrounded by people who love dogs just as much as you do. At the end of the day, every competitor has their dog’s health and safety in mind. Have fun!
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