This past weekend we went to our first dog show of the year. Actually, we may not go to any others, but this is still the first.
A few years ago we bought a travel trailer so that we could take all the dogs to shows and stay at the show grounds without having to leave anyone behind or stay in hotels – which would require us to leave dogs behind anyway. A trailer or motorhome is not environmentally friendly by any means but since we don’t go anywhere in airplanes or go away in the winter like many other people do, this is our splurge.
The main problem with going to dog shows in the spring/summer is the heat. You can never prepare for that. The best you can do is have a source of power and air conditioning in your trailer. Unfortunately, when we bought our gas generator, we found out too late that it was not large enough to power the air conditioning. At this show, we also could not run it because we didn’t have enough amperage to do so. We made do with two fans.
At this show venue, the building didn’t seem to have air conditioning but it did. Because the building was so huge, it was difficult to tell that it was on. Luckily it wasn’t super hot outside so inside was tolerable. Most people bring fans to help keep their dogs cool in the building.
Food for humans is important when staying at the show site. It is tempting to eat at concessions and fast food places, just because it is convenient and fast. When you are tired from a day at the show, this seems like a good idea but it is not. Eating poorly for a whole weekend is a bad idea. I’m sure most of us have done it from time to time, but if you are a regular at dog shows or trials eating well is really the most important thing.
Obviously, it is important to bring your dog’s regular food with you. At shows dogs are always being fed rewards, in the conformation show ring or if someone is doing training before going in the obedience or rally ring. Often you can find pieces of treats on the floor of the building that have been dropped there accidentally by handlers. This is normal and is not avoidable. To make sure a dog does not have a tummy upset from eating too many different treats, I try to keep an eye out for things on the floor and ground. You just never know what it could be. So keeping your dog on his regular food is important.
Another thing that can cause problems when travelling with dogs is a change in water. We never seem to bring enough when we go away. Thankfully, at this show we didn’t have to find another source but we were very close to having to. Changing water sources causes “bowel issues” for most dogs, as does drinking a lot on hot days. If the weather is hot you will be using much more water than you think you will need. It seemed that the dogs were drinking constantly.
Even though our trailer is equipped with everything we need for daily life, there is always something we forget or realize that we don’t have and that we need. This time, our only frying pan decided to lose its handle. I had also been using plastic food bowls for the dogs that were unusual shapes and actually was giving some of them trouble eating out of them. I have decided to buy another set of metal bowls to use just for the trailer and camping. They will be easier to clean and easier to eat from.
Our dogs don’t have any problem adjusting to being in strange locations. The best way to prepare a dog for this is to take your dog to different places – as long as she is not fearful of things already. Early positive exposure to all kinds of things is really the best way to set your dog up for an enjoyable life travelling with you. If your dog seems worried about anything in particular, it is crucial that you contact a force free dog training professional to help remedy any problems. Using anything but positive reinforcement to help a fearful dog is not appropriate.
I think the dogs like the trailer especially when the weather is cooler. Tommy (in pic above), Miranda and Emmett all like to go under the camping bed at night to sleep, but only one dog fits under there at a time.
All in all the dog show trip was good. There were many interesting dogs there and although we did not compete this time, it was good exposure for the dogs that I am currently training for Rally and “Obedience”. When trying to prepare for a trip with dogs, it is good to remember that you will likely miss taking something that you will need, so don’t stress yourself out by “over preparing”. There are stores near most show sites where you can get what you need. As long as you are having fun, that’s really all that matters.