Summer is almost here! And so are all the local summer fairs and fetes, along with their dog shows.
If you’re thinking about running a dog show, make sure that you’re considering the welfare of the dogs, not just the entertainment value of the owners and spectators.
First off, be prepared to be the responsible one and cancel the dog show if the temperatures are too high. You might get grumbles and moans, but you may save the life of a dog.
If it is very warm, try and make sure that owners aren’t leaving their pups in cars while they peruse the fair. Even with a window cracked open, it can get fatally hot, and also they’re at risk of dog thieves.
Make sure you have multiple bowls of fresh water around, so that dogs aren’t ‘competing’ for it.
For the show itself, make sure you have enough room. Dogs need space from each other or can get over excited and stressed. If need be, limit the number of entrants to each category, to ensure that the dogs are comfortable.
Don’t let children ‘show’ their dog without a parent or guardian alongside them. Even though they know their pet well, in these strange and often stressful circumstances dogs may react differently to normal – even if that’s just suddenly pulling hard to get away.
While announcing the show, remind spectators not to stroke or approach dogs without permission from owners. And in the case of children, they should ask their own parents to ask if they can approach the dog… we don’t want to be advocating talking to strangers…
Don’t be tempted to have categories that are about fancy dress. It might be hilarious for spectators, but it can be very stressful for dogs to have weird costumes put on them with bits hanging off and making noises. Costumes also hide their body language, making it harder for other dogs to read their signals.
Avoid categories that involve food, like treat catching. Even after you’ve allowed space around each dog, the addition of food could lead to squabbles, especially if a dog misses a catch and multiple dogs go after the stray morsel.
Have a dog trainer, or other dog expert, involved in the planning, and on the day. As you can see from above there are a lot of things that YOU might think are cute or fun, but could actually be detrimental to the dog’s welfare. Make it a fun day for EVERYONE involved.