There are a lot of people out there who wonder why in the world people parade their dogs around a ring or train them for rally or obedience or agility. They may think that its cruel to the dog or that it is done to build the ego of the owner or who knows what other thoughts may be out there.
Shows are so much more than that.
First of all, the simple act of training a dog to go into the show ring or through the agility course or obedience tasks does a lot to cement the bond between owner and dog. They have to become in tune with one another or they simply won’t do well. If the training is inappropriate, not only will the dog not do well, the dog may not *do* at all. Granted, some dogs are shown by handlers, but even those dogs are taught to interact with people and dogs and present themselves calmly and with good humor.
Training for the show ring, or for agility or obedience or even for draft work requires a great deal of POSITIVE reinforcement – which is how dogs should be trained, anyway. A dog that is terrified of making a mistake in the ring is not going to show well. A dog who has been taught that it is fun and rewarding and positive will have a good time and will show much better.
And yes, dog shows are for the people, too. People have a chance to see how their dogs measure up to others in that breed, they have a chance to meet breeders or owners who can refer them to responsible breeders, other owners who may be facing some of the same challenges, and there is a wonderful camaraderie among people who love the same or similar breeds of dogs.
I will be heading to a National Specialty Show in a few weeks and I’m excited about the people I will see, the dogs I will see, and all the things I will learn – about dogs, about people, and even about myself. We all work very hard to make this a wonderful national for everyone involved and that means hundreds of people all working toward a common goal, and all working on behalf of the dogs they love.
And that’s a very good thing.