Preparing Your Dog For The First Competition

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Preparing Your Dog For The First Competition

by Kelly Marshall



Planning to enter your puppy or dog in a competition of any kind is a bit nerve wracking, especially if you have not competed before. A great idea is to plan to attend several events prior to your competition and talk to some of the handlers, trainers and owners that are at the event and are showing dogs in the same type of competition that you are entering. Most dog owners and lovers are very willing to help out and provide information on how to get started in the various competitions. Getting advice from people that are actively involved in showing dogs is a wonderful way to get your questions answered and to get some practical tips on preparing both yourself and the dog for the event.

Tips for Preparing Your Dog

Often dogs have trouble concentrating on the event or competition the first few times that they are in the ring. There are so many new and different activities going on that the dog may be distracted or even a bit frightened of all the people, noises and even the lights and design of the ring or event course. Taking your dog, as a spectator, to several competitions can help with normalizing them to the environment that they will be in during the competition. Some of the larger competitions do not allow dogs in that are not entered, but as the owner you can still attend, get an idea of what is happening within the venue and then create similar environments for your dog.

Some ideas for similar events for your dog to get used to crowds and noises is to take the dog to:

? Parks

? Beaches

? Walking through downtown areas

? Going to various community events

? Walking the dog with other groups of dogs

Be sure to gradually introduce your dog to these events and make sure that they are confident in large crowds, with other dogs, and even with noises and bright lights. Be sure to check in all areas for any prohibited areas to take your dog before starting this desensitization process.

Consider hiring a professional trainer or handler to work with you and your dog for a few weeks prior to the show or event. The professional can help prepare you to work with your dog in the ring or during the event. If you are planning on using a handler rather than working with the dog yourself begin allowing the handler and dog to work together several weeks before the event so they are comfortable with each other.

Bathing and Grooming

The day of the event can be very hectic and chaotic, so bathing and grooming the dog as much as possible in advance can help prepare for the event. Consider bathing the dog the day before and just doing minor touch-ups the day of the competition. Shine products and any specialized grooming should be done immediately before the competition. Be sure to walk the dog and allow them to use the bathroom before the competition and avoid feeding them just prior to the event. Always allow plenty of fresh water but be careful to control the amount or water consumed within an hour of the event.

Always be as positive towards your dog as possible during the event. Most dogs quickly learn the fun of competing and soon are just as eager to go to events as the owners.

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