Working one on one with man’s best friend can be extremely rewarding, especially if your dog has been able to master even the most comprehensive of tricks for his favorite treat or dentine stick. You may believe your dog has what it takes to win a few ribbons and maybe even a trophy, and you have entered you and your best friend into a local or even national competition. As much as you would have been preparing your pup for this their whole life, by starting off training very (Source) early on, there are still a few extra preparations needed before you walk out into the competition ring. Here are some tips on helping you and your dog to feel at your best (and most obedient) on the day.
Create A Trial Like Setting For Practice
You will already have a daily dog training routine in place to ensure your dog is performing their tricks to the best of their ability, however, competing is a little different than when practising at home. Usually, you will need to perform longer sequences than a few tricks – and without a treat – which may take some getting used to for many dogs. Starting your pup off with a few tricks strung together, and slowly building upon that foundation will get them used to performing a routine with little prompting or encouragement from treats. Some trainers will go as far as scheduling a mock competition with their dog, and setting up their own ring with friends, family and their dogs invited to watch. This will help you to see where the kinks are in your routine, as your dog may feel a little under pressure – like they will do on competition day – and generally not perform as well as in training.
Remember To Practice A Good Entrance
First impressions are everything in a competition, so your first entrance into the ring with your pup is quite weighted in expectancy. It is a good idea to practice an entrance routine. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, it is just a way of ensuring you set your dog aside from the competition straight away. Be sure to practice walking with your dog at heel, and heeling them to stop when prompted ready to perform. Many people only focus on the sequence when training and forget this vital aspect of the competition.
New People And Dogs
The competition ring and venue can be an extremely overwhelming place for a dog who is not used to being around lots of people and other dogs. This could be a major distraction for your pup and prevent them from performing their routine like they usually do at home. In the months or weeks leading up to the competition, it is a good idea to go to a busy public park and allow your dog to get used to a crowded environment. Practicing your routine in a loud and busy place will also allow your dog to get used to performing the routine and staying focused, rather than getting distracted by the bright lights and all of the people.
If you are heading off to a competition in the near future, try out some of these tricks and tips to ensure you and your dog stand the best chance, and best of luck to you both.