Tuesday, November 9, 2010


You’ve been preparing to show your newest little superstar before he was even born. You planned his breeding; you socialized him, trained him, and groomed him getting him ready for his first introduction into the show ring. You’ve made preparations to hire the best handler that money can afford. You “talked” him up to your friends and family. You even showed a picture or two of him on some of the show dog lists. You did a real good job of selling him to the show dog public. People now are starting to talk about him and anticipating seeing a real “head turner” when he walks into the ring.

The big day arrives. In trots your much “hyped” up superstar. You see people starting to whisper and you accept this as an acceptance of his star power. You smile to yourself knowing they haven’t seen anything yet. Just wait until they see your guy move around that ring. Off he goes and he’s charging around the ring. You’re beaming with pride about his great showmanship and attitude. People are whispering even more now. The judge calls his handler out to the center of the ring for a loose lead temperament test. Your dog is bucking and jumping pulling the handler in the opposite direction. Finally the handler gets him to the center of the ring. The dog blows his mind when the judge tries to examine him. Oh he doesn’t try to bite the judge; he’s too scared for that. So the judge sends him to the back of the line and that is where he stays as the winners are handed their ribbons and you’re handed back your dog.

Now the whispers grow louder and you can’t help but overhear some of the snide remarks made as you and your dog walk by. “Even if he didn’t blow his mind, he’s not that much better than a pet dog” someone says a little too loudly. “That’s not movement. He was running because he was afraid of his handler” another voice says.

Showing dogs is not just about getting a dog ready and prepared for the show ring. You better learn to be pretty tough skinned when you are showing dogs. Naturally the above scenario is in the extreme. But sometimes even the best of dogs can have an off day and they may be a little unruly in the show ring. People will talk if a dog looks at them the wrong way. Some people can be down right cruel when it comes to showing dogs. It is a competition and some are out to win no matter which way they can do it. Step aside if you are faint of heart because you may get run over.

There is a whole psychology in the showing of dogs. No one likes to lose, but if you don’t learn how to lose well, then you’re going to carry it from show to show. And an angry competitor is not a very nice person to be around. The dog picks up on it. Ring side picks up on it and the other exhibitors pick up on it. All and all it doesn’t make for a very enjoyable show experience. Showing should be fun. If it isn’t, then what are you doing it for? I can think of a lot of other ways to spend one’s time than doing something that turns your insides upside down.

If you don’t psychologically prepare yourself to show dogs then you may be in for a big shock. All the preparation in the world of getting your dog ready to be shown will not take the sting out of losing with this dog that you have placed so much hope in. If you have a good dog, common sense will tell you that sooner or later, he will be rewarded as being such. To lose control of yourself because one or two judges don’t agree with you is silly. Even the best of dogs will lose throughout their show careers. It’s to be expected in any sport. It’s the nature of the beast if you will. You win some and you lose some. Everybody likes to win. No one likes to lose. But lose you will and if you don’t know how to lose, you can make yourself sick about it!

Oh sure there will be some times that you lose and your dog lost to a better dog that day. Come on admit it now…….the other dog was better on this day. And then there will be those days that you lose to an inferior dog and you want to scream! Go ahead and do it if you have to, but try to do it away from the ring so the judge doesn’t feel like you’re going to jump the rope and strangle her! Probably the worst loss would be when you feel like you walked into a set up situation. You know the ones that I mean. The winning dog/bitch was determined before he even set foot in the ring! And before you die hard “believe that all judges are honest” fans shout that never happens…………..OH YES IT DOES! In this case, if you feel like jumping the rope to strangle the judge, ask your friends to hold you back so you don’t lose your AKC privileges and you can still show your dog under honest judges in the future!

Let me tell you, if you are reading this and have never shown a dog before it can be very nerve wracking. Headaches are throbbing temples, tempers are at their most unattractive stage, stomachs are doing cartwheels, intestines are in knots and exhibitors are fighting for the next free bathroom seat in the nearest restroom! I kid you not. I know I’ve been there before.

Talk about catty people……my goodness gracious just walk around ringside and eaves drop if you must and listen and watch the tongues……….they’re wagging faster than your dog’s tail. This is where people come to observe, to compare, to learn and yes to gossip. It’s alright I guess if you are one that is partaking of the sometimes unsavory conversations, but what about if you’re on the opposite side of this equation and you’re the one that they are gossiping about? It can be pretty painful stuff………if you let it get to you. If you go to the show knowing that sometimes your feelings will get hurt because people may not like your dog and are talking negatively about him, then you may be better prepared to deal with it. If on the other hand you go to the show and EXPECT that everyone will love your dog, you may be in for a rude awakening.

Showing dogs can be some of the most thrilling times of your life and some of the most positive as well. You must bring along with you the right attitude. If you do, your losses will not overcome you. You’re smart enough to know it just comes with the territory. Tomorrow is another day and another judge!

Go to the show knowing you love your dog and hope that others will as well. If they don’t, don’t take it personally. Remember you are competition the moment you step foot on the show ground. Not everyone will like your dog and so what. Take him home and love him anyway. Have fun and don’t let the psychological warfare of showing dogs get to you. If it does, then maybe this is not the sport that you should be in. If you’re not having fun, then do something else with your dog where you are having fun! The German Shepherd is one of the most intelligent of breeds. If you’re not enjoying yourself and are tense and upset, he knows and feels it. You can’t expect him to perform his best if you are not willing to accept the consequences of his performance on that day!

From the DVD: "CAUTION: SHOW DOGS!"......Behind all the glamour and excitement lies the never-ending hard work, enormous amounts of love and an all-consuming dedication that is difficult to imagine. Get to know four top breeders, and their dogs, while sharing the years of knowledge and experience required to produce consistent champions. In fact, the full-length movie CAUTION: SHOW DOGS! puts you behind-the-scenes so you can share the excitement and exhilaration of the world of SHOW DOGS!

My rating: showing dogs: (3 -4)