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Show Training & Conditioning


If you have bought your pup with the intention of showing him or having him shown in the conformation ring, the previous training tips also apply to you. It is very important to have a dog that is well-mannered and well-socialized in the show ring. If the judge cannot see a dog stand still, gait smoothly on leash, and have his body touched without backing away or shying, they won’t be able to use them in the award placements. Therefore, it is all that much more important for you to be aware of and to work on manners and obedience at an early age.

Other than the aforementioned socialization and training suggestions, there are only a few things you need to do to train your dog for the show ring. The main thing is to not teach your pup to automatically sit when he gets a treat. A dog that automatically sits for a treat is reacting with a conditioned response rather than waiting to sit until he is told, which is a learned response. Get the pup used to standing and waiting until you give a command before he does anything. You may want him to lie down, or you may not want him to do anything other than to stand there at attention. Only give the treat after the pup/dog has done what you asked him to do, and immediately verbally praise him as well. If the dog sits or lays down without you giving a command to do so, gently reach under his belly and help him back onto his feet and tell him to ‘stand’. Once the dog is standing, wait only a few seconds before giving a treat and praising him for standing. Gradually increase the length of time you make the dog stand, but don’t rush it too fast so that the dog will sit or lay down out of frustration or confusion. When the dog is standing, let him know he is doing what you want by reinforcing the behavior with gentle praise and by telling him what a good boy he is or by saying ‘good stand’. You can also give pieces of the treat intermittently to keep his attention on you and to assure him that he is doing the right thing.

Pretty soon you will find that as soon as you open the cookie jar or reach into your pocket for a treat, your dog will automatically stand at attention and wait for his treat or wait to be told what to do. He should then sit or lay down only when you actually give him the command to do so. This early training will immensely help when your dog hits the show ring. Teaching your dog to gait or trot when he is moving at your side will also prove helpful in his show career. You want the dog to be ‘up’ and happy when you ask him to move out, but this doesn’t mean at a full run or gallop. Be cautious not to jog with or bike your dog until he is physically mature enough to do so. Check with your breeder or vet as to their recommendation on when you can start an exercise program.

Food is another very important element in preparing your pup or dog for the show ring. In order to be in tip top condition, your dog needs to fed a high quality, professional formula dog food. These feeds may be more expensive, but the saying that a dog is only as good on the outside as what goes into the inside, is very true. Plus, with these higher quality foods, little or no extra vitamin supplementation is needed, which saves money; plus stool volume is greatly reduced since more of it utilized and digested by the dog. Everyone has their own opinion as to which dog food brand is the best, so it is up to you to do your research and decide for yourself which brand to feed. A good place to start is by asking breeders, whose dogs are in excellent condition and who have superior coats, what they feed.

Conditioning requires time and persistence, and coat density and length can be influenced by genetics, but you still might want to try what they recommend and see what results you get. However, avoid the food switching scenario; pick one food and stick with it, unless your dog is obviously not doing well on it. Any new food will take time to take effect, so allow 4-6 months to really see the results. Most reputable breeders want to have their show quality puppies shown in the conformation ring. Many are willing to help novices get their pups ready to show or will show them for their owners. If you have purchased a show quality pup that you would like to get into the conformation show ring, be sure to talk with the breeder you got the pup from about how and when to get started.



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