How to Prepare Your Dog for a Show

by Staff
How to Prepare Your Dog for a Show

If you made the decision to enter your dog into shows or if you’re quite interested in the possibility to do so for the first time, there are a lot of things you should learn and get to know about. Preparation for a dog show should consist of two main stages – training and grooming. So, let’s talk about them. How to properly train and groom your dog for a show?

Before you start

Familiarize yourself with the show setting first. Whether it is an amateur or a professional competition, etc. The most important factor in this stage is usually restrictions and eligibility requirements. For example, only purebred dogs older than 6 months can participate in UKC & AKC tournaments. The latter also imposes a requirement that the dog mustn’t be sprayed or neutered. Your local or regional show organisations might have different requirements in place. Familiarise yourselves with them before the start.

The next logical step would be to either watch some shows online or even better, attend some in person. Gather information and prepare for your own attendance.


In a dog show, regardless of where you enter it, there are usually very similar activities and routines. So, you need to teach your dog how to behave in a particular situation and also to behave around other dogs.

So, you could merely take them to a park, but a thing called ring raft lessons might be a better overall choice. This will teach your dog all of the necessary things that are important in a show and also help them get accustomed to the environment when there are other dogs beside them. The end result – they won’t be distracted so easily.

Your dog should know how to stand still and in place. This position is called a ‘Stack’ and can be either a free or a hand stack. The latter and the former differ. A free stack is when the dog positions his or her legs freely. However, a hand stack is when the human places them in position to make the best possible pose.

Now, if you want a bit more specific information – focus your attention into teaching your dog a proper walking and stance. Gaiting (a fancy term for trotting) allows the judges to determine a lot of important information about the dog. The key to proper trotting is synchronisation between movements. Begin by luring your dog to follow you around. Progressively try and make them follow your lead with you being further and further away.

During all of this training, use treats to teach quicker. Final step in this puzzle is to make your dog comfortable with strangers examining them. This can be achieved with the help of your friends or by just hanging out in the park often enough.


Apart from training, grooming and aesthetics are the most important thing in dog shows. A well-groomed dog has the highest chance of winning or placing high in the show, so you have to do your best. Grooming engulfs bathing, coat brushing, drying and toenail clipping/cutting as well as some other miscellaneous tasks.

Let’s begin with what you should do. Firstly – brush out the coat of your dog and trim the hair according to your vision. Now you can move over to trimming the toenails. A grinder is by far the more superior device to clippers, so you should get nail grinders for small dogs here (the same applies for a large pup). Trim and shape their nails without any rush.

Now you should bathe them and dry their fur. Brush it again and clean their ears to round out the preparation. Don’t let them get dirty afterwards. There are some other things you could do but they aren’t all that important for beginners, so don’t worry about it for now.

After you completed these steps and awoken on the day of the show, begin your day with a normal routine. We recommend brushing them just before the show, covering their ears and paws to avoid dirtiness. Pick up snacks for the show and head out. You should be all ready to rock and roll!


So, to sum all things up, if you want your dog to be in a show, you have to get to know the regulations and know whether your dog is eligible to participate. After that, you need to properly train them and teach them proper stances and gaiting as well as to remain unbothered by the presence of other dogs. Next up – grooming. Do everything properly and your dog could end up taking prizes from the show! At the worst-case scenario, you’ll learn new things and have a great time as well as strengthen your bond with the pet.

Main Photo by Sebastian Coman Travel on Unsplash

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The New Jersey Digest is a new jersey magazine that has chronicled daily life in the Garden State for over 10 years.

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