| January 28, 2012 | 0 Comments
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A Curly-Coated Retriever getting prepped for the ring.-

A Curly-Coated Retriever getting prepped for the ring at the 2011 AKC/Eukanuba National Championships.

Dr Zeus
Dr Zeus

Dr. Zeus is known as Am GCH Can CH Gingerbred Celestial Thunder JH, CGC by the AKC and just plain old Zeus to his friends. He has traveled far and wide in his five years. All across the US and Canada where he learned many things about being a great dog. His show career brought him to the elite of the sport and he hopes his new passion of hunting will also bring him great success. In all of his travels Zeus has met many dogs of all breeds. His insight and knowledge is how he achieved his honorary doctorate in “How to be a dog”. If you have a question for him, Zeus would happy to give you a dog’s perspective, so please send them to

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Ask Dr. Zeus

Dear Dr. Zeus: How do you prepare for competition? – “JR” a Curly-Coated Retriever from Savannah, GA

Dear JR:  Let me share with you my preparation for competition in the show ring.  Please feel free to email me if you want tips on other events like hunting, obedience, agility, etc.; if I can’t help you out, I have friends that would love to.  Before I begin, I must say that preparation differs for everyone and you have to pick what works for you.  A lot of folks go through the same routine to make sure their head is in the game – that’s what has worked best for me.  The following is my show day prep.  I usually spend time in my crate before the show; I use this time to “visualize”.  I think to myself “enter the ring, stand, go around the ring, stand for inspection (yikes, cold hands!), go down and back, stand and smile, go around the ring…”.  I repeat this visualization over and over.  After going through it so many times in my head, when I’m in the ring I move around flawlessly with confidence.  I highly recommend this technique.  Having said that, practice makes perfect.  Whoever is handling you should know what they’re doing – their job is to be invisible and let you shine. You should make sure they get some training and it helps if you go along so you can figure out how to work as a team.  Many training facilities have conformation classes and/or drop-in sessions; so find a training site near you in practice practice practice.

My sister is pawing at me while I’m writing this as she wants to share a different pawspective. Allow me to introduce you to an impromptu guest columnist, Prada (aka MBOSS GCH CH Ghoststone’s The Devil Wears Prada).

Thanks, Zeus. You look great, by the way – that hunt training is really sculpting your body well. I didn’t know you can see yellow dogs blush?! Well, ladies, male dogs can be so clinical in their approach so I wanted to relate at a different level to all you beautiful girls out there. My show prep TIP is easy to remember as us ladies always have so many things going on in our heads (unlike dogs!) – just remember T-I-P.

  • T stands for Trim. I can’t stress enough to be prepared for the ring. Trim those nails, Trim that coat (if appropriate for your breed), Trim that waistline (get that body in top shape). Trim, Trim, Trim. Think Trim!
  • I stands for “Eye“. Keep your eyes on the prize. The judge holds that prize so make sure their eyes are on you – take your time to show them your stuff, don’t hurry or look anxious. Make eye contact with them – take your eyes off that treat for a few seconds and flash those “baby browns”. They won’t be able to resist.
  • P stands for Poise. Head up (like you’re balancing a book), chest out (don’t be shy!), tuck in that tummy and show off that topline, wag that tail. Ladies, we all know our strengths so accentuate them and show them your best angles!

Tell your handler to abide by these TIPs as well (okay, maybe not the topline and tail part). Hopefully you can use my TIPs during your next show. Have fun and good luck!

Category : Ask Dr. Zeus


About the Author ()

Lorraine has owned Labradors for over 20 years and has bred them about half that time. A good day for Lorraine is experiencing the unbridled joy of her labs greeting her (in the morning, after work, or even after a short trip to the store), witnessing the pure happiness of her labs in the field retrieving or exploring on a hike, and snuggling with (or under) them on the couch at night. A great day is a good day (just described) plus having a litter of puppies around!

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