Showing is not just a matter of taking your dog to a dogshow and walking round the ring for the judge. I very quickly found this out when I began to show my first dog. No one was willing to give me tips about my showing technique (or lack of it!!)as it would make the competition harder for the people opposing me in the ring so I was left to find out by trial and error. There are many facets to showing your dog here in the UK. It isn't just about making sure your dog/puppy is clean, brushed and has a nice lead on.
So what does showing involve?
Lets look at you, the handler first.Think about your dog for a minute. Does it have a light or dark coat colour? If light you will need to wear dark clothing, if dark, you will need light clothing. Why? Because it shows off your dog as you are standing waiting for the judge to look at him/her. Your clothing must be smart, and suitable for showing. No mini skirts, flapping trousers, wild and bright colours or patterning. Whilst they may be the height of fashion they will detract from the dog who is the most important thing in that ring. Footwear should be dark,low heeled and comfortable.Many a dog has suffered at the heels of a fashion conscience owner and many an owner has ended up in the Accident & Emergency department of the local hospital after falling off their high heels. Leave these at home and go for practical and comfortable shoes.
Okay, so we have got you sorted out clothing-wise. Now what? Well, you need some lessons in handling. In the UK there are many Ringcraft clubs where you and your puppy/dog can get training in how to show your dog to it's best advantage.The dog learns what is expected of it in the showring and more importantly you learn how to show your dog, move him, and groom him to show him off at his best. The dogs love it too! Mine always sit waiting on a Monday and Wednesday nights to go to the two clubs I attend. I'm on the committee for both. They really enjoy going and they have learnt to behave when required to. It really makes all the difference.
When you go to shows sit and watch the old timers as they groom and get their dogs ready for the ring. Watch how they move and show them in the ring. Watch closely to see if they use any particular hand signals to get their dogs attention whilst the judge is viewing them. You can learn an awful lot from just watching very closely how the winners of the classes handle and show their dogs. Observe what they wear too.
The most important part of showing a dog is to have a rapport with him/her. Practice together. I walk my dogs up and down in the hallway which is ideal, being long and straight, but a large room with no distractions is just as good. When you feed your dog a treat make him/her stand properly for it. The treat then works in upholding all that hard work you've put in at the ringcraft and reinforces it too.
Well, there you have it in a nutshell. Not just a matter of you both entering a show and walzing around the ring. Training and handling plus clothing etc all play their part in making your dog stand out. Of course he needs to be a very good quality dog too!! So...go to it and GOOD LUCK!