Show dog training
In major dog shows like Westminster in the United States or Crufts in the UK, there are over 130 different breeds of dogs that take part in dog show competition. It may look easy but there is more to show dog training than just ‘sit’, ‘stay’ or circling around the show ring. Every dog breed contains a select portion that is more ‘ideal’ than its companions. The first selection criteria is ‘conformation’ where arrangement of legs, tail, head, ears, etc, that are set appearance. Puppies often do not exhibit measurable signs of these components. For this reason, show dog training begins life with the offspring of other notable show dogs.
With a show dog offspring in hand, the next step is establishing a dedicated training regiment. Training commences with a course of daily training sessions that span several months or several weeks. The first step is establishing basic expected behaviors and move forward to more advanced behaviors. At all times, the trainer maintains a keen eye towards the dog’s progress.
During a competition, a show dog must hit specific marks predetermined by the show ring. In addition, specific poses and walks must be adhered to. This must all be completed with thousands of people looking on. The earlier a training regiment can be established the better. Along with traditional behaviors, handling behaviors need to be set in place. Show dogs are subjected to judges inspecting eyes, ears, teeth, and coats, among other things. Therefore, dogs must be of the temperament to handle this.
An ideal way to establish handling is through a bathing routine. Moving a dog’s feet, exposing its gums, handling its ears and so forth is a great way to get a dog use to extreme handling. Bath time should not be all teaching. Leave a little bit of time for fun for you and the dog. Bath time is also ideal for perfecting the ‘stance’. Variations include all fours on the ground; one foot raised; sitting; and standing. Whatever the chosen pose, the dog needs to hold it for as long as the trainer dictates.
Leash training is utilized to establish a walking pattern in time with the trainer. Starting at normal walking/heeling paces, the trainer should pick up pace and direction as quickly as possible. Show dogs can be taught to make these quick direction changes with the use of a clicker. Execute the ‘click’ sound and pull the leash in the same direction. The dog should stay at the trainer’s side, never in front of or behind the trainer.
Once this training proves successful, move on to loose leash training. Shortly following this, the dog should maintain walking commands without the use of a leash entirely. Be sure to enforce the ‘side’ position. Once here, the walking pace should be increased up to a slow trot.
Leash or clicker training can be highly effective in teaching when to stop and start walking. A simple tug of the leash or ‘click’ can direct a dog in the desired direction. The idea here is to instill in the dog to walk when you walk, run when you run and stop when you stop. For as long as you desire time wise.
Show dog training can still incorporate the basic rule of dog training: love and respect. When a dog feels love and respect, it is more likely to execute its trainer’s commands. Show dogs can be temperamental at times but do enjoy the activity at hand as should the trainer. Otherwise, the time and money investment for a show dog will be wasted.