15 Tips for your first dog show

Easy to follow guide for prepping for your first dog competition.

Dog shows or competitions are great places for dog owners to show off their furry friends. There are many different types of dog shows, from Crufts to herding dog competitions.  

They’re a great chance for your canine to compete against the best in each category. From ‘Best in show’ to ‘Dog agility’ and even some reserved solely for service dogs. There really is something for every dog breed!

Although typically purebred dogs are the stars of the shows, you are starting to see more and more mixed-breed dogs carving out their place in canine competitions.

How do I enter a dog competition?

Naturally, it will depend on what type of dog competition you’re entering and even which show you want to compete.

It’s important to do plenty of research upfront to make sure you meet the requirements for the dog event.

Typical requirements for entering dog shows:

  • Your dog needs to be registered with The Kennel Club if you have a purebred.
  • There are also usually minimum ages your pet should be. Usually, the minimum age requirement is around 6 months.
  • Your dog should have a full check-up by a professional vet as health is important.
  • Your pet needs to have had some form of training, whether it was by yourself or a professional dog trainer.
  • It may seem obvious, but no dangerous dogs will be allowed to be entered into competitions. Therefore, you should make sure your puppy is well socialised and not displaying signs of aggression.
  • As stated before, many dog shows require your pet to be purebred.
  • And of course, if you’re entering a competition like ‘best in breed’, your dog needs to be the specified breed.

15 tips for your first dog competition

We think that every dog deserves to be a winner, but there can only ever be 1 chosen for each competition.

We’ve put together some handy tips and tricks so that your furry friend gets the best chance at winning the best in show!

1. Thorough socialisation gives them the best chance of winning.

Pooches that are still quite timid or shy won’t enjoy the dog competition and chances are it’ll show.

Check out our puppy socialisation guide for more info.
2. Do your research first!

Many dog shows or dog event categories will have specific guidelines and regulations about entering.

Make sure you fit all of them to avoid being disqualified.

3. Don’t forget to pack all your doggy essentials.

It can be a stressful experience for both you and your pooch, so prepping everything you need will mean you’ll be able to focus much more on the actual event itself.

4. Attend a dog show before entering it.

It’s a great experience for dog lovers to attend and you’ll likely pick up plenty of useful information for when it’s your turn to compete.

5. Don’t feed your pooches immediately before their event.

Regardless of whether your dog is entering a show category or an agility one, not feeding your pet right before can help you avoid a messy situation.

It’s also recommended to leave time after eating before exercising your pet.

6. Before attending, go to a professional grooming appointment.

Although you can definitely do the bulk grooming work at home for most breeds, having a professionally groomed pet can make a big difference when you’re up against dog show pros.

Read more about grooming your dog at home here.
7. Practise, practise, practise.

Regardless of the category, practise really does make perfect. Getting plenty of training hours in before a dog competition will make a big difference.

Guide for positive puppy training
8. Consider getting a professional dog trainer with dog show event experience.

Dog training pros who have experience working with dog show winners might give you the edge.

How to choose the right dog trainer
9. Make sure it’s fun for your pet!

Although it would be brilliant to win a dog show together, it is also about getting to spend quality time with your pet.

Other dog bucket list ideas
10. Be patient with your pooch.

Many dog show winners have invested years into it before they come away with a win.

Don’t get too disheartened if you don’t come away with a prize.

11. Make sure you’re prepared for weather changes.

Many dog shows actually take place outside. So, preparing for the inevitable fluctuations in the British weather can help your pet do better.

How to keep your dog safe in the sun
12. Bring a dog first aid kit.

Hopefully you won't ever need to use it. But working with animals can be as unpredictable as the weather.

It’s best to have everything you need to make sure your pet’s performance goes well.

Dog first aid tips
13. Take a moment before the main event to calm your pet.

Whether it’s offering them some pets or letting them play with a toy that calms them. It makes sure your pet is in the right mindset to perform.

14. Keep calm.

Your pet will be able to sense your anxiety which can cause them to become anxious about the event too.

Some pets can react aggressively when in an anxious situation. Displaying aggression is one of the biggest causes of disqualifications at dog competitions. 

15. Give your dog plenty of praise after the dog event.

Offering your pet some treats, praise and plenty of pets is a great way of rewarding their hard work!

What can dogs not eat?

Ready, set, dog show!

Remember, it’s your job as their owner to look out for their welfare. There’s no shame in needing to pull out of a dog event because your dog is not enjoying it and becoming stressed.

A good place to start is with a charity dog competition or show, they’re often much less stressful and you know it’s all for a good cause!


Feel free to check out our other dog guides for advice and tips!


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