Melissa is entered in a few dog shows next month! She will be in the puppy class....6 to 9 months of age.
These will be her first shows ever. So what should I expect? My goal is for Melissa to associate the dog show scene with having fun. So there will be no pressure from me for Melissa to stand perfectly or gait in a straight line. Sure she can do all that at home, and at the two training centers we train at, but I am aware that there will be more distractions in a show setting. So my expectations of how she performs goes down a few notches. If she wants to look around and stop while she is gaiting, that is ok. I want her to look and see and be comfortable. If she is over exuberant with her greeting to the judge as he/she approaches for the individual exam, I will let Melissa move forward to greet. If she leaps as she moves around the ring with the other dogs, that will be ok also.
As I am preparing for the shows, I am thinking about all the skills Melissa has learned and is comfortable doing before she even gets into the show ring. All of which lead up to a stress free day.
1) She walks on lead from the house to the car.
2) She is comfortable in her crate in the car.
3) She is comfortable and falls asleep in her crate while I drive.
4) She exits the car/crate when released on verbal cue. This is a huge safety factor whether on a short trip around town or a longer trip to a different state.
5) She goes potty on cue in strange places.
6) She lies quietly in her crate when left alone.
7) She eats meals in her crate. Not that this is something we routinely do, but on occasion if we have a very early morning class or a late night class she gets what is remaining of her meal in her crate on the way home. This will come in very handy when we do long distance travel and stay over night in a hotel.
8) She can walk next to me on a loose lead, and can even trot nicely at my side.
9) She stands quietly to be brushed.
10) She is relaxed when people touch her ears, her head, look in her mouth, and run their hands over her body.
All of these skills did not happen over night, we have been working on them for months. They have gradually become part of Melissa's routine. If she is familiar and comfortable and knows what is expected of her she will remain stress free.
At the shows I will be focused solely on Melissa. It is not about winning her class, or being the best, it is about having fun with my puppy. She is only 8 months old, I am developing an attitude in her where she will eagerly look forward to performing in the ring for all future events. Whether it be for breed, rally, obedience, agility or attending educational programs with me, I want her to love being on center stage.