Dog shows are organized by licensed dog associations throughout the country on a regular basis. Besides the American Kennel Club there are the United Kennel Club and the American Rare Breed Association competitions. Held at both outdoor and indoor locations, dog shows give you the chance to see breeds you might not otherwise have the opportunity to see. If you are planning to get a dog, you can also approach breeders, who will be only too happy to discuss their dogs’ merits with you.
For exhibitors competing at these events, dog shows provide the chance to show off their dogs and be rewarded for the countless hours they spend training, grooming and conditioning them. There’s a camaraderie among exhibitors that enhances the fun of dog shows, and competitors loyal to the sport are keen for all to do well.
As the name suggests, these events test a dog’s ability to follow a number of commands. If your dog can sit, stay, come, heel (with and without a leash) and remain in both a sit and a down position while you stand at the opposite side of the testing area, she will be awarded with the CB, or Companion Dog, degree.
Once the CD degree is obtained, you and your dog can continue training for the CDX, or Companion dog excellent, degree. Training can take almost a year to prepare for this. Your dog must be able to do all the exercises that she did for the CD degree as well as more complicated behaviors. These include leaping over both high and low hurdles without hitting the bars and remaining in a sit and then down position while you go out of her sight range.
After your dog passes this level, she can train for the UD, or Utility dog, degree. This ward tests your dog’s scent discrimination. She has to be able to find and retrieve a wooden dumbbell and a glove that you have handled among a pile of other wooden dumbbells and gloves.
At these events your dog is judged for how closely she meets the standards set by each breed’s national club. These standards include the length of her body, he coat color and thickness, and her gait and temperament. In shows sponsored by the American Kennel Club, the conformation event is a process of elimination, with only one male and one female dog from each breed category being selected and awarded points. Once a dog earns 15 points, she is considered a “Champion” of her breed.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you can just give your dog a quick groom and be ready for the judges. A lot of training is required for this event. First, your dog has to learn how to stand very still for a few minutes to allow a judge to examine her. She must also be able to walk at a certain pace by herself, as well as with other dogs in front of and behind her. If your dog is a medium or a large breed, you will need to run beside her in the ring, so make sure you’re in good physical shape too. Most importantly, your dog must look as if she’s loving every minute of the show and not be unsettled by loud noise or clapping spectators.
This is a fairly new dog sport that has become very popular in England and the United States. In agility events, you will be required to direct your dog to complete a course filled with obstacles. The course usually requires your dog to walk over an A-frame, walk on a raised platform and go through tunnels. You will need to race alongside your dog, shouting commands and giving hand signals to let her know which part of course is next. Dogs are individually timed and the one who completes the course in the fastest time wins.
To compete in agility events, your dog must not be afraid of any of the obstacles and be able to move quickly from one to another. She also has to be very proficient at basic obedience skills because the events are outdoors and she is off the leash the whole time. To prepare your dog to reach these levels of competition, you must be willing to put in many hours of training and also be in good physical shape your self.