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Ten Tips To Prepare A Show Puppy For Show

written & submitted by Faye Strauss, Sherluck, USA

  1. First leash experiences should be totally non-pressurized, happy and gentle. Never pull or jerk the lead. You go where the puppy goes. When the puppy is leash aware you can gently begin direction and recall exercises, ‘This way’ and ‘Puppy here’.
  2. Starting at six weeks play tug and retrieve individually with each puppy. Use a new, soft, stuffed animal that will only be used for retrieving. Begin in a confined area like a hallway where you will sit, with legs spread apart, a few yard from end of the hall. In this way the pup is controlled. Get the pup’s attention by letting him tug at the toy. Throw the toy a few feet ahead of you. Encourage the pup to retrieve by saying ‘Get it’ and ‘Bring it’.
  3. When the pup does something wrong you go to the puppy. Never make the puppy come to you.
  4. Use the puppy’s name only with the recall command. Be happy, positive, excited and loving. Never use the pup’s name in anger. Reward the pup every time he comes. At first call him only when he is approaching you. Or call him by asking, ‘Who wants a cookie?’ then call ‘Puppy…here’.
  5. Play a run away game where you turn away from the pup and call him. When he follows, drop to the floor, cuddle and praise him, ‘You are so smart’.
  6. Socialize to the max. Invite family and friends and lots of children for supervised visits. Note the pups’ reactions and encourage the bad actors. Remember every puppy is a winner. Carry the timid one and maintain a one-on-one relationship until the pup gains confidence. It is amazing how a day away from litter mates and with people strengthens character.
  7. At six weeks start playing show dog. Use a non slip and stable surface for stacking, like a table. Lift the puppy and gently place it on the surface while holding the chest and rear, so that he stands in a stacked position. Then pet pup while placing the feet in the correct position. This should be a happy, nurturing and loving experience. The pup should come away wanting to be put on the show surface again. Treats like raw hamburger or cheese are used to encourage the pup to lean forward and, by manipulating a collar, to arch his neck.
  8. Expose the litter to a variety of environmental challenges from lawn mowers to trucks, vacuum cleaners to washing machines, TVs to music and children at play. Monitor responses. Drop metal dishes, blow whistles, clap hands and introduce outdoor experiences. Have platforms for the pup to walk on, tunnels to walk through, large corrugated boxes to play in, cans with marbles in them and with balls with bells to roll.
  9. Now for the introduction to the nail grinder. First, turn on the grinder but don’t actually use it, all the while petting the pup. When he grows accustomed to the sound, rub the  machine, not the grinder, over the toes and the head so he gets used to the vibration. On the third visit to the grinder, try doing a nail. Hold the pup in your arms, petting him  constantly.
  10. Pups need lots of exercise and areas to explore both in a group and individually. They need plenty of fresh water. They need a quiet sleep environment. Puppies only grow when they sleep.