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Could Your Dog Compete in Competitions?

 by jaime on 09 Sep 2014 |
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Any dog owner that has spent time watching the Animal Planet network on television is familiar with the agility competitions and dog shows that pets can participate in. Dog shows are a difficult test of the mental relationship between dog and owner, while agility competitions test the ability of an owner and dog to connect emotionally and challenge the dog physically. As a dog owner, have you ever wondered if your beloved pet can handle either of these competitions? Below, you'll get a crash course in both of these competitions, providing information that could help you answer that question.
 
Dog shows

First and foremost, your dog may not even be allowed to participate in a dog show. All American Kennel Club dog shows require entrants to be AKC registered purebred dogs. If your dog is registered with the AKC, there are still a number of hurdles it must clear to enter a show. Dog's participating in a show must be at least 6 months old, be of a breed that has a class offered in the premium listing for the dog show, and cannot be spayed or neutered.
 
If your dog meets all of these standards, it is time to learn how you can begin showing your dog. A good place to start would be visiting various dog shows and inquiring at club tables or tents about breed handling. Many clubs offer classes to help owners train their pets for participation in dog shows. These classes teach beginner information that helps owners learn how the basics needed for handling their dog in a show.
 
Should you decide to begin showing your dog, it is advisable to begin with match shows. These shows are commonly used for practice, for both training a dog for the show, and giving novice owners practice handling their dog in a competitive environment. These shows do not provide points toward an AKC title, but do offer a great way to practice and prepare for AKC events.
 
Agility competitions

On the other end of the spectrum, agility competitions require both stellar obedience and the physical capability to succeed in a stressful environment. Younger dogs with active lifestyles are ideal for agility competitions, but physical ability is not enough to succeed. Owners must be able to exercise command over their dogs and need to be able to quickly navigate the course themselves as a guide for their pet.
 
Getting your dog into an agility competition requires practice, just like dog shows. There are agility camps and classes offered on a weekly basis around the country that prepare owners and dogs for the experience. Dogs get introduced to the concept of using their physical abilities in a focused manner, and teach owners how to use effective commands to guide their dog through each course.
 
There are agility camps offered by the American Kennel Club, United States Dog Agility Association, and the North American Dog Agility Council. It is advisable for any owner considering agility competitions to have a veterinarian verify that the dog is physically capable of competing. More importantly, it is a great idea to take the time to complete multiple camps to ensure both owner and dog can handle the demands of an agility competition.

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