Think you have the prettiest dog on the block? Enter them into a dog show! There are many local and national options, both for purebred and mixed breed dogs. It can be a fun way to show off your dog and work toward a goal together. If you’re new to this idea, here’s a quick overview of how to prepare your dog for a conformation event.
Work With a Trainer
Even if your dog got straight A’s in all their doggy classes, conformation is a different type of obedience. You should find an experienced trainer who has shown (and ideally won) some dog shows. Reach out to your dog’s breeder to see if they have any recommendations. The trainer will help you teach your dog how to stack and walk with a loose leash. You can also find local conformation events and reach out to one of the participants as a mentor as you begin this new adventure.
Expose Them to Many Different People, Dogs, and Places
To successfully compete in a conformation event, dogs must be highly acclimated to many different types of people, sounds, smells, dogs, and places. You should socialize your dog from a very young age. They shouldn’t have a problem being approached and touched by strangers. This will help them out in the ring, so they aren’t as skittish or unsure during the competition. All dogs must be adaptable and stable in new, unknown environments.
Stick to a Grooming Regimen
Just like with human beauty pageants, dogs will need to look their best. Some dogs only require basic grooming and a bath before the event. Other dogs, like long-haired breeds, will need to see a special groomer to make sure their coat is at its best. All dogs will need clean fur, trimmed nails, and pearly white teeth, no matter their breed. If you have some experience with dog grooming, pick up a nice pair of pet grooming shears to keep your canine in top shape.
Even if you never make it to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, you and your dog can still have a blast competing in local events. It takes a little bit of time and effort to prepare your dog for a conformation event, but you’ll only strengthen your bond.