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Show Ring Tips - Hot Weather

This summer has been amazingly hot and humid, and it has followed me to ever show I've entered. Here are some tips to help you and your dogs get through the hot weather and look great doing it.


A large part of showing is adapting to the particular conditions presented on show day. There so many variables out there that we should be practicing with our dogs every day and at all times of the day to get a handle on what might be encountered. You should practice physically in as many of the variables as possible to acclimate both you and your dog to what you will potentially encounter. You also need to practice so your mental aptitude for overcoming any problems is at its best given a particular set of circumstances. Of all the difficulties you can encounter, hot weather is probably the most devastating.

As a "delicate flower" I am very prone to heat related stress, and as such I am able to determine if taking the dog to the show is worth it or if staying home is a better option. If it is hot and you do decide to go to the show, being prepared is critical. Start by knowing your dog. If you dog does not do well in the heat, put the dog's welfare first and stay home where you can control the climate.

Some DOs and DON'T s

DO keep your dog in a consistent temperature environment. DON'T keep your dog in an air conditioned vehicle prior to being shown. The contrast in temperatures from air conditioning to outdoor hot and humid will wreak havoc on your pooch.

DO use a generator or pay for electric and run fans on the dogs instead. Dogs react more to temperature changes than people do, and you know how hard that can be for you. Think about heading into an air conditioned business out of the heat, feels great. Now recall what it feels like heading out of that controlled environment back into the heat and humidity. It's like a giant slap all over your body.

DO arrive early at an outdoor show and stake out your territory in the shade. You can enhance the shade by putting up a pop-up tent. Set yourself up so you are still shaded as the sun moves higher in the sky in the middle of the day. (You can buy pop-up tents with three sides for under $200 at many large discount stores. Some of the instant canopies I have had great success with are: EZ-UP and CARAVAN tents. Check their web sites to see all the varieties available.) If you don't have your own tent, the show may provide one. If so, set up opposite of where the sun will be highest and try to get near an edge to get any breeze that might pass by.

DO go and watch your judge's procedure. If the judge isn't taking dogs in catalog order, try to get to the front of the line so you can be judged first and then can get back into the shade of the tent or building while others are waiting to be judged. If the judge insists on keeping all the dogs in the sun, you do have options. You can put your dog in the shade or asked to be excused from the class and write off the show.

DO put yourself between the dog and the sun if at all possible while in the show ring. Your shadow will provide some shade for your dog.

DO spend less time grooming and putzing around with your dog when it is hot.

DON'T wrap a dog in an ice blanket, that only constricts the blood vessels on the surface of the skin and prevents heat from being carried out of the body.

DON'T allow the dog to eat ice. The cold ice into the hot dog may cause the dog to go into shock. The dog can lick the ice, but you are better off putting the ice on the throat, the belly, the pads of the feet and the rectum.

DON'T give the dog water just prior to going into the show ring. Your dog is better served by wiping the saliva out of the dog's mouth so the heat can move out of the body more efficiently.
If you want to cool your dog off quickly, you can use rubbing alcohol on the belly and the pads of the feet. Alcohol evaporates quickly, however nothing evaporates quickly in high humidity, and as the humidity rises so does the risk of heat stroke.

If you are in the show ring and you feel your dog losing his balance, open the mouth and look inside. If the gums are bright red and the eyes are red around the pupils, get the dog out of the ring immediately. Do not throw ice on the dog. If there is a veterinarian at the show call them immediately. You can use cool (not cold) water to lower the dog's body temperature until someone can get an air conditioned vehicle to take the dog to the closest veterinarian.

If you are in the show ring and your dog quits participating, let the dog quit. Do not force the dog to show, it is not worth risking the dog dying and at the very least you have ruined your dog for showing in the heat again.

If you are heading to the show ring and your dog throws up, do not go into the show ring, go directly home where your dog will be in a climate controlled environment.

Black dogs, and dogs with short noses like Pugs and Bulldogs are far more susceptible to the heat than other breeds. Don't keep these dogs in the sun on warm or hot days.



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