Shows and trials are an exciting way to challenge both yourself and your animal, while meeting new people in an atmosphere of friendly competition.
Perhaps the most popular canine events are conformation all breed shows, with Crufts being the most prestigious example. In these shows, dogs are judged on how well they conform to the ideal standard of their breed. There are three main subsections of conformation or breed shows:
All-breed shows are open to all breeds.
Specialty shows are restricted to dogs of a specific breed or to varieties of one breed. For example, The Irish Great Dane Club Breed Championship Show is for Great Danes only.
Group shows are limited to dogs belonging to specific groupings. The groupings of dog found at group shows are as follows: hounds, gundogs, working, terrier, toy, and pastoral.
Obedience events exhibit how well a dog, through training and condition, can behave at home, in public and in the presence of other dogs. They test a dog’s ability to respond to commands and complete predefined obedience exercises and often include exercises such as performing a ‘figure 8’, ‘scent discrimination’ and ‘directed jumping’.
Working Trials are based on the training that police dogs are given. They are physically demanding and as such require a fit dog and handler. The trials include:
‘Search and track’ exercises, in which the dog follows tracks and finds objects using scent alone.
Agility tests, i.e. clearing hurdles and obstacles
Control exercises, including heelwork and general ‘response to command’ tasks.
Agility trials involve handlers directing their dog through an obstacle course as quickly and accurately as possible. The course includes obstacles such as jumps, tunnels and ‘dogwalks’. Handlers have to direct the dog around the course without touching either the obstacles or the dog. Agility competitions are split into three groupings: small dog, medium dog and large dog. To compete, your dog needs to be officially measured by nominated Irish Kennel Club Measuring staff.
Training for and competing in canine competitions can provide much needed mental stimulation and physical activity for a dog, and provide a rewarding and challenging hobby for the dog’s owner.