General Care for Your Show Dog
For 95% of your dog's life he is a pet, for the other five percent it's showtime! But please remember that for all of his life you are his friend and carer. Whether he's a top-winning champion or not, he still deserves a bowl of water, tasty food, a dry bed and a cuddle.
If a dog is given a proper routine from day one he will bond with his owner knowing he will be fed at a certain time and walked daily. If your dog is sent outside to 'potty' after he is fed this will ensure good bowel habits when you are travelling or due in the show ring - no one wants an accident in the show ring!
Although a show dog will follow similar routines to a pet dog there are times when certain considerations must be made:
Health and GroomingSo your dog has rolled in something smelly, under normal circumstances you'd pop him into the bath and give them a good scrub. Not so for your show dog, yes he has to go into the show ring as clean as possible - after all who wants to judge a dirty dog? - But you have to consider the coat.
Each breed of dog has a standard; this is a description of the breed as owned by the Kennel Club, which has to be adhered to by judges when they are assessing each exhibit. The standard will state what each breed's coat should be like. A Terriers coat may be short and harsh. Longer coated dogs may be soft and silky or even waterproof. Bathing and using detergents can have a detrimental effect on these dogs.
So before you dunk you dog into the bubbles stop and think. A good brush through the coat using a spray bottle containing water and a few drops of lavender oil - fleas don't like lavender - will freshen him and save the coat.
Make Sure Your Dog Gets Plenty of ExerciseThere's nothing better than a good tramp through fields and forest with your canine companion. When your dog is judged the person 'going over' your dog will be looking for a good muscle tone and level of fitness. Just because you show a dog does not mean he should be wrapped in tissue and closeted away at home. Think how refreshed and happy you feel after a good walk or run, a happy confident dog will perform better in the show ring so don't forego those walks because you have a show dog.
Dogs love to investigate interesting smells while out walking. Fine, what's wrong with that? Nothing, unless you have a season of dog shows ahead of you. Each time he sticks his head down a burrow or into a bush he could be bitten or scratched. Apart from endangering him it will take weeks to heal and may leave a scar. Running through long grass and bracken can rip out the coat, the same as diving into rivers is not only life threatening but can soften a coat that has to feel harsh to a judges hand.
The Importance of a Good DietAny good breeder will furnish the new owner with a diet sheet and will be on hand throughout the puppy's life to advise on dietary and other needs. Dogs need nutritious food and the show dog is no exception. Whether you use dried food, fresh meat and biscuit or a vegetarian regime a dog will not be looked upon favourably if it is shown either under weight or too fat.
Vaccination and the Control of ParasitesNo dog owner wants to find fleas ticks or worms in their dogs. Many exhibitors are now questioning the amount of drugs pumped into their pets. A new wave of natural products can be purchased from pet stores that repel or treat flea and tick infestation. Worm treatment can also be purchased over the counter for a lot less than a visit to a veterinary clinic. Let's face it, when we treat our dogs for round worms it is not because they are infested it's just a precaution, so why subject them to a rigorous drug attack?
The same thought now applies to vaccinations. Your vet can carry out a simple blood test to show if a dog has enough immunity in his system, which will save him being vaccinated every year.
An alternative choice now favoured by many exhibitors is homeopathic treatment. Some vaccinate puppies in their first year then follow this homoeopathically while others take the homeopathic route from the day the puppy is born.
Whatever treatments, diets or exercise regime you decide to follow remember you have the support of your breeder and also your breed club and fellow exhibitors. You are never alone when you become a member of the canine community.