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Simple Steps to Success

DOG SHOWING is fun, you just have to learn a few simple steps. These will lead you into a new and exciting world, a competitive world maybe but one of intense interest wherein you will meet and enjoy the company of people from all walks of life with the common denominator …pedigree dogs.

There's no mystery, anyone can do it, you need no qualifications and, contrary to popular belief, you do not need to have an exceptionable dog, he need only be a pedigree dog of any recognised breed and registered with the Kennel Club in your name. There are quite a few rules both written and unwritten which you will have to learn, but these are not difficult and can be learned as you familiarise yourself with the scene.

Documented
Virtually every show in Britain (there are a few exceptions) is held under the control of the Kennel Club and your dog must be correctly documented otherwise he will not be accepted as an entry. The first thing to do is check the papers you should have been given when you bought your dog, the breeder or the previous owner should have handed you the registration document which is also a transfer form. If you haven't already done so, complete the transfer form and send it to the Kennel Club together with the appropriate fee. If you have no registration document you must contact the person from whom you acquired your dog.

At this juncture you will be familiarising yourself with the scene by buying or subscribing to OUR DOGS, the leading canine journal. Within the pages of this weekly journal will be found all you need to know about the art and craft of showing your dog. There are articles and columns written by experienced exhibitors, knowledgeable breeders and specialists in all canine aspects. The main shows are advertised, in all cases the name and address of the secretary who will send the show schedule, a key document, and entry forms upon request. There are also advertisements for puppies, accessories of every description and every type of quality dog food.

Next you will need to learn how to handle and present your dog in the show ring. This is easily accomplished by joining your local Ringcraft Club, there are hundreds of these clubs around the country, the fees for each training evening are very reasonable, ring the Kennel Club and you will learn where they are in your area. They are normally run by enthusiastic and knowledgeable dog people, they will know the ins and outs of the dog game and will be happy to impart their knowledge to you. Every breed has its own traditional way of presentation in both grooming and showing and it is at the Ringcraft Club where it is possible to learn the craft. If you own a popular breed almost certainly there will be someone to help you with the tricks of the trade where your breed is concerned and help you understand the different shows where your dog can be shown and the regulations that go with it.

There is no reason why children should not be involved; there are two organisations which cater for Junior Handling, the Junior Handlers Association which runs classes at many shows competing for the important title of Junior Handler of the Year and the Kennel Club Junior Organisation which encourages children to participate in most of the activities involving dogs. Both organisations emphasise the welfare of dogs, the responsibilities in ownership and sportsmanship. Many prominent juniors have gone on to be breeders and judges of distinction.

Enjoy
Grooming is often highly specialised for exhibition dogs, an extreme example is the Poodle but most exhibitors enjoy sculpting their dogs to the required formal shape, a craft which can be learned by anyone with slight manual dexterity, breeders and other exhibitors are sure to help and advise. You will need specialist tools for the job, each type of coat needs its own tools, stripping knives for wire-haired breeds, special scissors for long soft hair, woolly hair that tends to tangle has its own de-tanglers; even the brushes and combs are different and have been designed over a long period of time to suit a particular breed's presentation.

You will want to present your dog to the judge in the most advantageous way, to do anything else would be counter productive. Each breed has its own traditional style, in theory you can show in any way you like but you would be less likely to be considered by the judge if you vary the recognised methods by too much. The judge's attention should not be diverted from the dog by a strange method of showing.

Examples of different styles of showing are the stacking of the Welsh Terrier and the free showing of the Norwich Terrier, both these breeds and usually the small breeds are shown on a table. Stacking is the practice of holding a dog in one position and free showing is allowing your dog to take a natural stance on a loose lead. The Irish Setter is shown by holding the jaw and stretching the tail out in a near straight line, a Bulldog is shown head on to the judge, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are shown like this, only the Yorkshire Terrier is shown on a small fabric covered box.

After a little while, when you have become more confident, you will enter the Club's match; this is a simple fun competition where two dogs, whose numbers are drawn from a hat, are matched against each other in an elimination contest, the winner going through to the next section; eventually one dog is left and he's the overall winner.

Many people including well known breeders will show their dogs at Exemption shows, these are little, 'no stress' shows which can be attached to local agriculture shows, local fetes or charity fund raising events; big winning dogs are not allowed to show which gives the novice a better chance. Entry is on the day and is the one type of show where a non-pedigree dog can be shown or a pedigree dog with no papers, indeed there are classes for the ordinary mixed breed pet dog; showing Fido can be great fun for the kids. These shows are useful to familiarise your dog with the bustle and noise of the showground and get him used to different surfaces upon which to walk.

By now you will be thinking of progressing your dog to the bigger Open and Championship shows, you will have learnt which classes you can enter, this is made very obvious in the schedule. Read the detail with care and complete the entry form accurately and post it before the date specified, you must be careful to enter the correct class because if the dog is shown in the wrong class he will be disqualified and time and money will be wasted. Details of trophies are given and if you like to collect silver make sure you don't miss the opportunity by not studying the schedule. You will read details of which breed is to be judged including the name of the judge but importantly, most do not give an approximate time of judging. Therefore it is advisable to arrive in plenty of time for the start of the show so as to find a convenient place to park and get your dog settled quickly.

Now is the time to look after your dog's needs first and then get a quick breakfast yourself if you have travelled some distance, fast food outlets are available at all the bigger shows. You may have time to shop around the traders stands, at the major shows every known accessory will be on sale from leads to cages and specialist grooming tools, dog food companies will be there in force, there is rarely a need to take dog food to the shows, although it would be a good idea to take a supply of your own drinking water, the dog stomach is less likely to be disturbed if he drinks his usual water.

The key document at the show is the catalogue, within its pages everything pertaining to that show can be found, the main concern is the order of the breed judging and which ring your dog is to be shown. When the judging starts watch the judging procedure and be ready with the dog fully groomed for when your turn comes. With your training you will be confident and you will know to carry out the judges instructions precisely, keep an eye on the judge as he finishes, you don't want to miss a placing because of inattention.

Above all accept the judges' verdict gracefully even if you think you were robbed, be sportsmanlike and generous to your fellow competitors, it will pay dividends in the end. Once you have joined what is virtually a big club you will find comradeship and friendliness, a whole new way of life will be opened. It is an absorbing hobby which can bring great returns, it should be fun and not to be taken too seriously.

GLOSSARY
AV:   Any Variety
AVNSC:   Any Variety Not Separately Classified
BOB:   Best of Breed
BIG:   Best in Group
BIS:   Best in Show
BOS:   Best Opposite Sex
BP:   Best Puppy
BPIS:   Best Puppy in Show
CC:   Challenge Certificate
Ch:   Champion
NAF:   Name Applied For
RBIS:   Reserve Best in Show
TAF:   Transfer Applied For

Dogs Worldwide.com - This article has been reproduced courtesy of Robert Killick of Our Dogs

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