top of page



Understanding that there will always be greater or lesser dogs than our own; that, and other variables such as judges preferences, coat condition or just the fact that the dog has a bit of a “bad hair day”; the things we cannot control.  However, the things we can control we should manage well.


For instance:


Bathing and brushing (See infographic below)


  • If you have a long stock haired dog or perhaps a short stock haired dog with a very thick coat, you should bath the dog a bit longer before a show (± two days) so that the hair has time to settle (not be so puffed up on the day of the show).

  • If you have a dog with a naturally shorter coat or if your dog is out-of-coat you should bath the dog the day before the show or even the morning of the show so that the hair is indeed puffed up when it goes into the show, making the dog look more “in-coat”.

  • Use a good dog shampoo, for instance Purl® or Wampum®, etc. Do not use human shampoo, for the formulation is not suitable for dogs. Once-off will probably do no harm, but over a long period of time it may cause skin irritation due to skin pH fluctuations.

  • Do not use human hair conditioner as it makes the hair “heavy” especially if you are unable to rinse and dry the dog’s hair thoroughly.

  • Towel drying is not good enough, the hair must be completely dry. Specialized dog grooming blow dryers are ideal for this purpose, however, are quite costly. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you might come across a bargain at the annual Pet Expo’s (e.g. WODAC Dogs and Cats Expo), hence attendance of such Expos are highly recommended. Blow dryers for humans do not blow strong enough, and so, if you do not have the patience to keep at it until the hair is completely dry, rather invest in a proper dog grooming blow dryer or take your dog to a reputable doggy parlour.

  • Brush the dog thoroughly with a rake brush once the hair is dry (make sure all the dead coat is brushed out) and then frequently thereafter until the day of the show.

  • Clean both ears thoroughly with a damp cloth soaked in the soapy shampoo water, make sure you wring out all the water before you start cleaning. A 50:50 mixture of water and apple cider vinegar can also be used to clean ears by dabbing a cotton facial wipe in the solution and then cleaning out the ear. Be careful not to get any water in the ears because it can quickly cause an ear infection or even just irritate the dog. You can plug the ears with cotton wool before you clean them but do not push it in too deep in case you are unable to get the cotton wool plug out again, which then becomes an even bigger problem. If, in a day or two, your dog starts shaking its head and/or scratching its ears, then you know that you have a problem and it should be dealt with immediately.

  • Give the dog a raw knuckle bone or other raw cartridge rich bone (e.g. Ostridge Knee Caps or Turkey Necks) to chew on the day before the show so that the dog’s teeth are clean. Never ever give your dog a cooked or smoked bone! It should always be raw.


Socializing for showing


This is the most critical aspect to get right.


Dogs in pet home normally do not have a problem with strange sounds, loud noises, music, people, cars, travelling in a car\trailer, etc. Kennel dogs have to be socialised for these things.


What pet dogs do have a problem with is that they are so used to constant attention, or being around humans, that they don’t really have to seek out attention as it is constantly available. When kennel dogs are taken out of the kennel it is normally to do training or to play on a one-on-one basis. The training and playing is also very dynamic and active, which the dogs love.


Pet dogs love lounging around the house. You might pat them and even give them a treat every so often, but this is by far not enough to get a “show” bond. You must make sure that your interaction with your dog is exiting for your dog, even when he/she just comes to greet you, make a fuss. Really rough it up with your dog, but be careful, if your dog’s ears go down or it subtly shies away from you or lies down when you approach your dog in a playful manner, then your play is too rough for your dog; adapt the robustness of play. Your dog should always “win” the fight. Of course, the dog should not learn to dominate you, so the balance is important. You know that you are getting it right when your dog engages you in a playful manner (wriggles his body or goes for your feet, etc.); then you must play, don’t brush him aside. If your dog never does that then you know you have work to do.


Your interaction must be one-on-one. Your dog must see you as the primary playmate not the other dog in the household. It is difficult when both “parents” work. Remember dogs bond with each other as well and they have the whole working day to do so. It is practically impossible to supersede the bond between two dogs and that is okay, just as long as “your” dog has an excellent bond with you as well.




Start monitoring your dogs’ weight about two weeks before the show and adapt the diet accordingly. The rule of thumb is that you have to be able to feel the ribs but not see them. But consider this: if your dog is out-of-coat or hasn’t been bathed for a long time the ribs are more noticeable and you might erroneously think that you have to feed more. Contemplate whether you will still see the ribs when the dog is bathed and the hair is fluffed up. The dog, at least, has to have a clearly defined “middle”, by viewing from the top (bird’s-eye view).


Show dogs must be firm and dry. Firm and dry are terms used to describe a dog that is lean (not skinny) and muscular.


Feeding on the day of the show


Get up early on the day of the show to feed the dogs that are in classes 1 to 4 of the show. They must be fed at least 3 hours before they go into the class, to allow for gastric emptying, digestion and to build up energy. If your dog goes in later in the day (say after lunch) then of course you can feed just before you leave for the show. If you feed at night you will have to give a ½ ration in the morning, to ensure that the dog does not have to perform without “fuel” in the tank.


What to do when you arrive at the grounds?


Once you have settled in yourself, walk your dog so that the dog can relieve itself and then intermittently thereafter, especially if your dog is in a trailer or a crate in the car. Some judges take a dim view when dogs relieve themselves in the ring during the class. They see it as being unprofessional. Sometimes it is not easy to get your dog to relieve himself/herself in a strange environment with lots of dog smells around but you have to try your best, keep on taking him/her intermittently until he/she relieves himself.


It is better to keep your dog away from where you sit under the gazebo because your dog will (during the class) constantly forge out of the ring when he/she passes the gazebo where he/she knows you have been sitting, and this might just be at a time when the judge is watching your dog and then the judge uses the opportunity to move another dog in front of your dog. Many judges, especially those who  still show dogs, will not move a dog for this reason, but there are those who do. We always say: “Don't provide a reason for a judge to move your dog back”.


How to train your dog to react to the whistle/horn? 


As with clicker training (C/T) you have to prime your dog for the whistle. So, you whistle and give a treat, whistle and give a treat, etc. until the dog reacts when he hears the whistle. You then start playing whistling games with your dog. You are in the house and your dog outside, you wait until he is out of sight and then you whistle at the back door, for instance. Your dog will come running to the back door and you give him a treat. You then go to the front door and whistle and when he comes you give a treat. Later you include different windows, etc. Of course, you do not have to use a Clicker, praise while giving the treat, is just as good.

Bathing and brushing
Socialising for show
Priming the horn / whistle
Grooming infographic
bottom of page