Should you show your dog
Sometimes you run into the pet owner who is so proud of his dog that he has their pictures in his wallet as if they were his children. In fact, some pet owners think of their dogs as their fur children. For this extremely proud pet owner, maybe it would make sense to funnel some of that pride into showing their dog competitively. But how does one get started showing one’s dog, and what kind of competitions are there for dogs these days? For pet owners there are many options for showing off your dog’s talents, all you need to do is look in the right place. Conformation Show When people think of a dog show, this is generally what comes to mind. The Westminster, for example, is a conformation show. These types of shows judge the dog based on its conformation to the breed standard, which is determined by the breed organization. This organization is in turn headed by a parent organization, such as the American Kennel Club in the US. For this type of show your dog must be pure bred with AKC papers to be shown. He or she must also be whole (not spayed or neutered). This narrows the candidates quite a bit, but for people with a passion for a singular breed, this is a great arena of competition. Obedience Trial This type of competition tests the ability of a dog to obey the handler’s commands. This includes commands such as sit, stay, and come along with more complex commands. Obedience trials are held by the AKC, which allows only pure bred dogs, but also by other organizations such as the American Mixed Breed Obedience Registry. This means that even if your dog is not pure bred he or she can still compete. Depending on the level of performance, the dog can earn a title ranging from “CD” (Companion Dog) to “OTCh” (Obedience Trial Champion). Dog Agility One of the most fun competitions for both dog and owner, agility tests the ability of a dog to negotiate an obstacle course quickly and accurately. Dogs run through tunnels, soar over jumps, and balance on teeter-tots like circus performers. Handlers cannot touch the dog or course, only motion and give commands. Many organizations allow dogs of any breed to enter, as long as the dog is healthy. Dogs are matched by size, and judging is based on accuracy and quickness. These shows are great fun just to watch. Expect the border collies to take the cake almost every time. Herding Trials These competitions test the abilities of herding dogs to direct sheep. A flock is set on unfenced land, and the dog has to herd the sheep through several test elements before herding them into a pen. The handler uses voice commands, but much of the burden is on the dog. Scoring is based on pints given for each test element and for time. Some organizations allow any dog that has been trained to herd to enter, while others allow only herding breeds. This is a great competition to show of the skills of a working dog. Field Trials These competitions test the abilities of hunting dogs in the field. Dogs are usually divided into four sub-groups depending on function including: Retrievers and Irish Water Spaniels, Sporting Spaniels, Pointers and Setters, Breeds that Hunt, Point, and Retrieve. Game is shot live in the field, and points are given for how well the dog performs its specific function. Some trials are hosted by gun clubs, while others are hosted by dog clubs. For a well trained working dog, these competitions can be greatly stimulating.
There are many options for you if you want to show your dog, and all are a great way to become closer to your canine companion. Take the process with a light heart, and remember that if he doesn’t win, your dog does not take the verdict personally. He’s just happy to be close to you.