A short article on training your Bolognese for the show ring
by Chris Thatcher
OK, so you have decided you would like to show a Bolognese. The first requirement is, of course, a Bolognese puppy. I would suggest if you are looking to show your puppy that you acquire a puppy that has ‘show potential’. This means going to a reputable breeder and saying that you would like to have a go at showing your new family member. There are, of course, different levels of dog shows.
Kinds of Dog Shows
You have the Companion Show usually held alongside a local fete and is usually used to raise money for charity. There are also Open and Limit shows. These shows are generally at a weekend and are held all over the country so you are not normally too far away from one. The next level is Championship shows. These shows are more national but at least one during the course of a year will be within reasonable travelling distance from where you live. Bolognese as a breed are usually fairly easy to train.
You now have your puppy, if you have acquired it from a reputable breeder it will be inoculated and soon ready for the outside world. The first thing required is to get the puppy socialised and lead trained. Once you have the puppy lead trained you can attend ring craft training classes. Most areas have a training class close at hand. The first evening do not even try to do any training. Take your puppy in to the class and sit on the side lines, the puppy can be put on the floor where it will take in its surroundings. You do not want to frighten the puppy especially if there are a lot of large dogs in the class. The puppy will gradually acclimatise to the noise and hopefully by the time you go home will be more confident. Also, if this is the first time at training classes it gives you a chance to chat with people and also gain your own confidence.
The following week, try some show training.
What Happens at Training
Most classes will cater for novice handlers and will explain what to do as normally they are run by show people. Basically, you will need to put your puppy on the table for examination. Always hold the dog (just in case it decides to jump off). Someone will come along and examine your dog, this means looking in its mouth (you can do this at home prior to training classes) feeling its body, they may look at the pads and nails and if it is a male they will feel the back end to ensure it is entire. Once this has taken place they will ask you to move the dog. Depending on the size of hall and number of people attending, it may be a triangle, or it may be an up and down.
Moving Your Dog
Your dog should be shown on your left-hand side, so if asked to do a triangle do this by moving towards the right hand corner so that your dog is on your left hand side and in view of the trainer. Your dog should move at walking pace, but your trainer should be able to gauge what is the best pace for your particular dog. You will need to keep up the training whilst still a puppy as puppies can soon forget so weekly training is ideal. If you have a reasonable size garden you can refresh the puppy’s memory by putting it on a lead and doing the occasional triangle.
Once you have mastered this and the puppy is quite happy moving around and being handled on the table you are ready for your first show. We have all had puppies that no matter how much training they have had will still let you down and make a complete fool of you, but this, of course, is half the fun of showing.
When you attend your first show especially if it is an ‘Open’ or ‘Championship’ show there will more than likely be other Bolognese exhibitors from whom you can learn tips and hints from. If you have purchased your Bolognese from a show exhibitor or reputable breeder use them as your mentor, you can learn a lot from them that will stand you in good stead for your show career.