Puppy Prep School: It’s never too early to teach your future show dog the vital lessons it needs to know.
Jeffrey G. Pepper
Q: I have a new young puppy that I plan to show. When should I start training it for the show ring, and what should I teach it?
A: You can immediately start training the basics and socializing the puppy to many different experiences to build its confidence. Both activities strengthen the bond between you and your new puppy.
Walk this way
Gaiting plays a vital role in a judge’s decision-making process. If you train your youngster to move properly on lead, you’ll have a real head start on its show career.
Begin with one of the most basic lessons: walking on a lead on your left side without pulling. Train your puppy to move with you, but don’t train it to sit when you stop moving. Sitting is an obedience-trial command that’s not desirable in the show ring. Instead, always teach your puppy to stand when you stop moving.
Learn the correct movement for your dog’s breed. A Bulldog puppy shouldn’t move the same way a Labrador Retriever puppy moves, and a Pekingese shouldn’t keep up with a Toy Poodle. Further, all dogs of the same breed don’t move at the same speed. Dogs with longer legs whose height approaches the top of the standard will need fewer strides to efficiently cover ground compared with dogs with shorter legs that measure at the bottom of the standard. Move your dog at the best speed for its height.
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