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The Competitive Edge – Don’t Leave Home Without It

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118 – September, 2020

By William Given

Competition comes in many forms and on different levels, and while not everyone is looking to compete at the highest level, I believe it is important to find some level of competition in conformation–or in the companion or performance events–for everyone that wishes to participate in the sport of purebred dogs. Competition on any level is healthy; it gives our training purpose and structure, and leads to positive results.

Aside from your basic feeding and conditioning routine, grooming skills and handling abilities required to master the art of handling, what’s going to set you apart from the competition may be mental toughness. Having a competitive advantage is not a permanent thing. If you are to maintain your competitive edge, you must continue to adapt, adjust, learn new skills and refine old techniques. You must position yourself to respond to the changes occurring within yourself, changes in breeding trends and judges’ preferences, and challenges from competitors.

Challenges Brought By Competitors

It is the challenges brought by competitors that you will most likely experience first and most often. You must understand, your competitors want to win also, and some of them will have been working hard to find ways to make that happen. They will practice daily with their dog and they will learn to get the very best out their ring partner.

Some will finally admit that they will never get the performance they have been working hard to achieve and will choose to purchase a much better dog. This time, instead of buying a dog that the breeder promised was finishable, they purchased a young, show quality dog whose sire, dam, and grandparents all have great pedigrees, as well as being properly constructed, nice moving with soundness, and all having winning records in the show ring.

There are those competitors out there who have never excelled because they got too nervous in the ring. They always believed that if they did just one thing wrong, they would fail their dog and he would lose, and (the self-fulfilling prophecy being what it is) that is exactly what happened. Possibly, practice yielded a vast improvement in their handling skills, and this has given them an immeasurable boost in their confidence. That can make a competitor feel unbeatable, and they will be hard to beat.

No competitive advantage is safe for long, you have to be prepared for that. Concentrate your efforts on what you do best, focus on highlighting your dog’s strengths and do it better than any of your competitors. Your competitors may have made strategic errors and tactical blunders over the years, but they get refocused and they want to win. Everyone taking a dog into the conformation ring today needs to take time to discover what it is that makes them and their dog unique, and sets them apart from their competitors. Use that knowledge to your advantage.

Changes In Judges’ Preferences

Click here to read the complete article
118 – September, 2020

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