The Dog Trainer Lifestyle: Raising Show Dogs to Become a Champion

dog having its paw held

Dog shows give dog owners a chance to form a stronger bond with their dogs and showcase their canine friends to the adoring public. But before your puppy can enjoy the fame and success, it’s best to train them for the stage to stand out among the rest and steal the show. You can sign your furry friend up for professional dog training classes to further improve his or her skills and intelligence.

But if you want to train them by yourself, it’s best to start while they’re still puppies,. Here are tips to help you understand how to raise a show dog better.

Getting Ready to Train

But before anything else, make sure your dog is qualified to participate in the dog shows. For popular conformations such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) shows, only purebred dogs over the age of six months that aren’t neutered or spayed can participate. Your dog also needs to be registered as a purebred following all breed guidelines from eligible and appropriate breed clubs. But if your dog is not a purebred, you can esign him or her up on shows held by mixed-breed dog clubs.

Practice Gaiting

Gaiting is when your dog moves in a way that allows the judges to see their full structure and movement, and the correct way to gait for dogs is by doing a ‘trot’ with their head up.

  1. You can start by using treats to lure your dog to follow you with a lead while remaining on your left side.
  2. Once your puppy is comfortable with the collar and walking beside you, leave them behind a short distance away from you.
  3. Put them down and walk back towards your first spot at a speed that entices your puppy to trot while holding the other end of the lead.

Keep repeating until they can trot from longer distances, and if your dog resists the lead, back away and offer them their favorite treats to come toward you.

dog eating

Practice Stacking

Stacking is a dog’s behavior where they usually stand in the proper position for the written standard for their specific breed. Your dog needs to be stacked a couple of times in each visit to the show ring. Below are the two kinds of stacking.

  • Free Stacking — This is when the dog is encouraged to find the proper position in their home, but you can prompt them to reposition a little, but you’re not allowed to put your hands on them.
  • Hand Stacking — This is where you manipulate the dog into the position you deem necessary.

It’s best to hand stack your dog during the judges’ examination only and let them free stack during the rest of the show.

Socialize and Expose

During the judges’ examination, it’s inevitable for them to touch your dog for thorough inspections, and many dog owners neglect this part of raising their show dog. Your canine friend needs to get used to socializing and exposure. The window of socialization opportunity for these pups closes around five months, so you need to socialize your puppy before reaching five months in age.

When socializing and exposing puppies, it’s essential not to overwhelm them, and when they show concern or worry over something, never force them. Instead, let them gradually get used to other dogs or people, and you can coax them with treats for a smoother process.

When training a show dog, remember that it takes time and dedication. Having patience will help you and your pup get over from whelping to winning.

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