Let’s say that your cute dog seems very smart and easily learns cool and amazing tricks. A friend tells you that you should enter that little darling in a dog show. Well, which one? Without a doubt, the most well known show is the Westminster Kennel Dog show, now in its 138th year. It takes place Monday and Tuesday, February 10 and 11, 2014 in Madison Square Garden in New York City. According to noted dog experts Clint Livingston, Kim Campbell Thornton, and Darcy Lockman, here are some details that can serve as a resource for how your dog could qualify for this annual dog lover event. Evidently, according to Clint Livingston, it can take a year or more to prep a dog for a show like Westminster.
Get to know your Dog’s Breed.
In this dog show, the dogs compete by the breed in what is otherwise known as a confirmation show. A confirmation show implies that the judge will evaluate how well the dog represents the ideal dog for that particular breed. Included in this evaluation will the dog’s physical characteristics, its walk, stance, and personality as perceived by judges who are very familiar with that breed. If you are serious about entering the show, you are strongly advised to hire a professional dog trainer who is an expert in your dog’s breed.
Start socializing your dog early in Life
Needless to say, dogs that are friendliest are those who are very comfortable around humans. Therefore, if you want a show dog that is easy to train with the best comportment, make sure the pet is around many types of people and is very accustomed to many handlers. This will be important during the judging process later with the dogs might have to be handled by strangers.
Positive Reinforcement is the Best Training
Repetition, food motivation and compliments are essential techniques to train dogs to comply with commands. Dog naturally like to make humans happy. Thus, when they do something right, reinforce the behavior with a great deal of praise and verbal encouragement.
Master the Basic Dog Show Skills
Stacking- This would be making sure the dog can stand squarely straight and still, often with the front legs straight and under the shoulder blades. The paws should be forward. Practice this by having your pooch place its paws on four bricks on the floor. Have some of its favorite treats nearby to give as a reward!
Giving Ears-The dog looks “perky” with its head held high, ears in an alert position, and eyes showing determination and confidence.
Walking- When a dog struts its stuff, its right front leg and left back leg move in concert. The dog should move at a leisurely confortable pace. One suggestion is to try the dog at different speeds so that you learn at what pace the dog will trot the most comfortably.
All show dogs should appear that they are brushed and bathed regularly. Regular brushing helps to remove loose hair. Constant maintenance makes this job easier than waiting until a show when the dog may not be accustomed to it. Some tips for regular baths for your dog are to use fairly warm water, diluted commercial shampoo, a pitcher for rinsing, and towel for drying. Place cotton in the dog’s ears to keep water out. Keep the dog’s nails well clipped, using a nail clipper made just for dogs and doing it at a time of day when the dog is relaxed. Be sure also to invest in a dog toothbrush and brush your dog’s teeth on a regular basis so that it is used to this activity. Some owners may spurge and treat their pooch to a canine message therapist and chiropractor.
Register Your Dog with the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Now that you have stellar star as a dog, you can put it in the running by registering your dog with the American Kennel Club. Only dogs registered with the AKC (or another approved registry) can compete in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. That way, you will learn more about how to have your dog participate in this prestigious show.
However, as this is a confirmation show, there exist other dog shows that might show other aspects of your dog’s abilities. According to the American Kennel Club, check out obedience training and trial shows, agility contests, tracking, and field events. Many of these events are dog specific and less about the breed.
These can be great and rewarding ways to show the great relationship that you might have “a human’s best friend.” The viewing public will find the Westminster Kennel Club Show on the USA Network and CNBC networks on February 13 and February 14.