HOW DO I GET STARTED IN DOG SHOWING?
Should I show my dog?
When you bought your dog or puppy, what advice did the breeder give you in terms of its suitability for the show ring? Hopefully, you would have obtained your dog from a reputable, KUSA-registered breeder and not one who pulled you a fast one like “His father is Champion of South Africa” (a title that doesn't exist) or some other vague reference to a solitary champion five or six generations back.
Hopefully, your puppy's breeder would have discussed with you the implications and basic rules of showing. Perhaps your puppy's breeder may have encouraged you to give the sport a try, but how do you know for sure if a puppy has the potential to become a champion or, miracle of miracles, a top winner? The truth is, you can't. Even experienced breeders have hopes and expectations, but it is impossible to predict exactly how a youngster will develop into an adult. So do you give up before you even start....? Of course not. As long as your head is in the right place – that you will love your dog regardless of any wins that may or may not come its way – that you won't give up after one attempt – that you won't allow sore losers to influence you negatively – that you won't become a sore loser yourself – and that you go into the game with a competitive, but sportsmanlike spirit... you should take your hopeful into the ring and enjoy the experience for what it is. And if your first dog doesn't exactly crack the top stakes, consider it part of the learning curve and you'll know what to look for in your next show dog!
What can I do to learn more about the sport of dog showing?
Surf the Internet
Thank heavens for the Internet! This incredibly generous library often serves as the first line of research for novices as well as the more serious student. Try googling a variety of keywords to bring up a mountain of resources.
Find a mentor
If you bought your puppy from a reputable breeder, he/she will be more than willing to act as mentor while you learn the ropes. A mentor can also be a friend or someone involved in your breed who would be willing to take on this role. Establishing a good relationship with this experienced person can be a valuable stage in a learning curve.
Join a chat list
There are email chat lists on the Internet for almost every breed and most are extremely useful for establishing friendships with like-minded enthusiasts around the world, discussing breed issues and sharing special experiences. One such facility is hosted by Yahoogroups. You can search for a breed group here.
Visit a dog show
Consult the Show Guide to find a show in your area. Leave your dog at home because unentered dogs are not permitted at the show. Spend extra time at the group of your interest and don't be shy to chat to exhibitors and ask advice. Take particular notice how your breed is presented and how the judge examines it. If you're taking your spouse and children, keep control of all of them – avoid pushing prams over dog tails, etc. and instruct your children not to touch ANY dog without asking permission first. Be considerate of the exhibitors – avoid blocking important access areas and avoid asking quaestions when they're just about to go into the ring.
Go to Puppy Socialisation / Ringcraft classes
Consult the Ringcraft Schedule on the front page or ask around for recommended classes in your area. Puppies need to be properly socialised and you will both need to attend Ringcraft classes so that you and your dog can work as a team.
Join a club
Contact KUSA on (021) 423 9027 for the contact details of a breed or group club in your area or consult the club listing on the KUSA website.
Get a copy of your dog's breed standard
Each breed has its own official breed standard – a ‘blueprint' that describes the breed's characteristics that allow it perform the function for which it was bred. The breed standard is a non-negotiable guideline towards which all reputable breeders aim in their breeding programmes and against which judges evaluate dogs. You can download a free copy of your dog's breed standard from the KUSA website (from the blue box on the front page). Know your breed standard thoroughly and learn how to recognise the characteristics in your breed.
Read books – build your own library
Here's a list of outstanding books that guide you through the basics of showing your dog (available from Pets Publications)
Best Junior Handler 1997 Olejniczak Doral Publishing
Dog Showing: From Beginners to Winners 2003 Killick Collins
Joy of Breeding your Own Show Dog 2004 Seranne Howell
Junior Handling the White Way 2002 White International
New Secrets of Successful Dog Showing & Handling 2002 Green & Migliorini Alpine
Positive Training for Show Dogs 2008 Ronchette Dogwise
Raising a Champion: A Beginners Guide 2001 John & Richards The Well Trained
Show me! Dog Showing 1997 Coile,Barrons
Showing Dogs: The Exhibitor's Guide 2007 Cunliffe Swanhill
Showing Your Dog 2003 Cunliffe Kennel Club
The Finishing Touch 2005 SeRine Author House
Tricks of the Trade 2005 Hastin gs Dogfolk
Winning Edge: Show Ring Secrets 1992 Alston & Vanacore Howell
Winning Team, Guidebook for Juniors 2004 Haynes Panache Publish
© Joy McFarlane : SHOWDOGS