Grooming Your Dog for a Show

Successfully grooming your dog for a show requires planning well in advance of the show so you don't run into any surprises the day of the show. The following sections help you prepare for the big day.

The night before the big event

On the night before you show your dog, you probably don't want to wait up just to hear David Letterman's Top Ten, so in its place, here are the top ten steps you need to follow the night before the big show:

1. Brush out your dog's coat.

2. Do any prebath clipping as required.

3. Trim toenails.

4. Clean ears.

5. Express anal sacs if needed.

6. Bathe your dog.

7. Blow-dry your dog.

8. Brush out your dog's coat.

9. Do any postbath clipping.

10. Keep your dog clean. (That means crating him when it's bedtime and walking him on a leash when outside.)

The morning of the show

The day of the big show has arrived, and you need to put your dog through a normal routine so the both of you are ready for the show ring. Here are the steps you need to take the morning of the show:

1. Keep your dog clean by using a snood or other ear/hair covering, and always walk your dog on a leash.

2. Brush out your dog's coat and check for areas that may need touch-up clipping.

3. Use leave-in coat conditioners if your breed and/or dog requires them (for example, your dog may need coat dressings, bodifiers, and texturizers to help make the coat look and feel the way it's supposed to).

4. Prepare your dog's crate and get your equipment ready for the show. Here are some items you need to have:

• Bait pouch

• Battery-operated portable fans (for summertime or warmer environs)

• Bed and blankets for the dog in wintertime

• Combs and brushes

• Coverings like snoods to keep hair from dragging

• Crate for your dog

• Cut-up liver, meats, cheeses, or compressed meat rolls in tiny portions

• Dog food

• Electric clippers

• Folding grooming table

• Grooming apron

• Leave-in coat conditioners and bodifiers

• Mat (for shows on dirt)

• No-rinse shampoo (blue groomer's soap)

• Paper towels

• Pet bowls (for food and water)

• Plastic bags for trash and wrapping up dirty towels

• Plastic basin (for keeping chalk off floors or for using no-rinse shampoo)

• Poop cleanup bags or scoops

• Rugged tack box (for all the stuff you're hauling around)

• Show slip-collar and leash (preferably close to your dog's color) or show martingale (standard show collars and leads that are available online and through catalog supply retailers).

• Spray bottles with water and other coat products

• Toenail trimmers or grinders

• Traveling dryer

• Water jugs (with water), as most show sites don't have a good and easy access to water

• Washcloths and towels

• X-pens or exercise pens

Without a doubt, you'll think of other things to add to this list as you gain more show experience. The main thing to remember is that you want to keep your dog looking good and feeling healthy and comfortable — cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Depending on how far you travel to shows, you want to have enough gear to handle any grooming that you need to do while on the road.

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