English setters are a wonderful dog breed that will treat their owners to a wealth of exercise and happiness for a lifetime. If you choose to show an English setter, the fun and bonding will be enhanced tenfold. This dog breed is especially happy when it is pleasing its master and obeying commands, the show ring provides the perfect world for both. After finding a reputable breeder and setting a contract for an AKC show dog, you will be off to a great start for showing your English setter.
Preparing an English Setter Puppy for the Show Ring
Find a reputable veterinarian who works with show dogs, one who is up to date with current AKC breed standards and how your pet is relating to them.2
Hire a professional handler/trainer while your English setter is still a puppy. This person does not have to work with the dog throughout its life, though some dog owners opt for this, but can teach you how to train and handle the dog. A professional will assess the puppy and advise you which shows it would likely do best in.3
Socialize the English setter puppy around other dogs, especially other breeds. The dog should be so desensitized that it doesnt bother to look and see what other dogs are doing in the ring. It should play happily with other dogs while not on command, but be able to come to attention when called.4
Train the English setter for showing in the class that best suits the dogs strengths. If you plan to enter the dog for confirmation judging, do not have it spayed or neutered. Other AKC dog show classes include: obedience, hunting, herding, agility and earth dog events. Each class has its own specifications, so working with a professional is helpful.
Taking an English Setter to the Dog Show
Do the appropriate paperwork in advance. Most of the entry forms can easily be found on the Internet, so download and send them back well before the deadline. Have every detail covered so you and your English setter can have a fun, low-stress day together.6
Put the dog show paperwork in a safe place, pre-packed for the big day. The week before the show you will receive paperwork including: ring number, judges name, approximate show time, and any other pertinent information.7
Pack up everything needed and head to the dog show early enough to allow for getting lost or parking problems. Making a packing list will help in remembering everything you need. Do not feed the English Setter on the morning of the dog show, to avoid an upset stomach during the car ride or excitement of the day. Remember to take extra command treats with you, there is no excuse for running out of rewards.8
Find out where your assigned area is for the day and set up the grooming supplies. Check off the packing list as you unload so if anything was forgotten there is time to get it.9
Groom the English setter on the day of the show. This should be a complete habit to the dog at this stage of training. Do not over excite the dog prior to showing, stay calm and relaxed throughout the process for an enjoyable experience. If this is a confirmation show, every breed standard should be adhered to.10
Listen carefully for your call to the ring. Put a proper show lead on the dog, grab the bag of rewards and head to the show ring. The judge will instruct you on what to do from there, so listen carefully.11
Make some great memories with your pet. This is the most important part of the entire process.