Could your dog have its day? How to get into dog showing
Returning to the Birmingham NEC from today, Crufts is the world’s best celebration of dogs.
Now in its 129th year and annually drawing around 165,000 visitors and 27,000 dogs, the show includes a variety of canine activities and disciplines.
The four day event is crowned by the prestigious Best in Show final, announcing the ultimate champion selected from winners from seven dog groups.
Popular among dog owners as well general public, Crufts celebrates healthy and happy dogs which take spectators’ breath away with their skills, obedience and shiny coats.
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And although sharing the limelight with your canine companion can sound like a distant dream, Crufts is for all dogs and owners, from agility stars to Best in Show champions.
If you’ve ever wondered how your dog could have its day at Crufts, read the below advice from the organisers of Crufts, the Kennel Club, on how you and your tail-wagging friend can make it to the top:
Learning the basics
Crufts celebrates dogs of all shapes, sizes and nationalities, and a huge variety of dogs and their owners compete.
From traditional showing, which showcases the best of all 222 breeds, to exciting competitions like flyball and agility, anybody can take part with their dog.
Each of these disciplines have different entry requirements and the first thing to think about is what your dog might excel at and enjoy – are they quick and athletic, super obedient, or a perfect example of their breed?
If you want to show your dog the first step is to try a local ringcraft class to get a feel of the discipline and learn the basics.
It’s also a good idea to go to an open show and watch how your breed is shown, as each are shown differently.
Ultimately, judges want to see the very best example of that breed – healthy, showing the ideal characteristics, and happy in the ring – this is what makes a true champion canine.
You can find your local class via the Kennel Club website.
Health is of paramount importance, so before taking part in any canine activity, make sure your dog is fit and healthy – from nose to tail.
Prepare your pooch
The preparation for the big day at Crufts begins long before show day.
Training is absolutely key to success in all canine disciplines and so is trust between the dog and the handler.
Another important part is dog’s appearance, which needs to show that the dog is healthy.
Exercise and a healthy diet contributes to overall dog health, ensuring the dog is fit and in a good shape. Coat is also important sign of a dog’s health. Judges will focus on the quality of your dog’s coat and a grooming session is an important part of the preparation routine, especially for dogs with long coats such as an Afghan Hound or a Bearded Collie.
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Crufts competitor Anna Webb shares more top tips...
Anna Webb has been showing her miniature bull terrier, Prudence, at Crufts for years. Anna is a columnist for a wide-range of health and dog magazines, and also co- hosts BBC London’s Barking Hour, a radio show dedicated to dogs.
Anna commented on what Crufts means for anyone involved in dog showing: “Crufts is the season’s finale in dog showing. It is incredibly fun and rewarding day both for your dog, no matter the result.
“I would say that if you want to compete at Crufts, one of the most important things to do is to make sure you’ve got your dog used to busy environments.
"At Crufts there are lots of people, lots of dogs, smells and noises, so good preparation is to regularly go to a busy train station, for example, and navigate different environments with your dog.
“If at any moment your dog gets distracted when showing, use a focus tool to bring their attention back to you.
"This can be a favourite to or a tasty treat, something that you know your dog adores.
"Having a strong and loving bond is of course the key to a great Crufts.
“Last but not least, I say enjoy your time at Crufts and your dog will too.
"It is a fantastic socialisation which deepens that bond between you and your Crufts companion and superstar.”
If you are interested in dog showing or other canine activities, this year’s Crufts is the place to be.
You can witness the joy of dogs and handlers competing together across the disciplines and talk to experts to find out more about how you can get involved.
Crufts runs at Birmingham NEC until Sunday.
For more information and to buy tickets, click here.
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