If Winning Is The Target

13 May 2013

Whilst most of us enjoy the social aspects of showing, ultimately we go to a show to see how worthy our dog is of the various awards on offer. The competitive streak is within us all to some degree and reflects in how much work we are willing to put in to the preparation and exhibition of our dogs.

I know that there are many things we need to do to get that dog to perfection - the 100 little things as I refer to them, that add up to the whole. The fine tuning and tweaking of the dog to present the best silhouette, performence and presentation to the ultimate standard according to your written standard.

If you have a good dog then that's a good start and if you have a great dog, then that's a good start too. I have seen a few great dogs never achieve potential as the owner did not do the 100 little things to show the world how great that dog really was. Some people can just consign a dog to oblivion and others can turn a pedestrian dog into greatness. What is the secret?

If you watch any Olympic gold medal winner, it is clear that he has had lots of time put into him and trained to hone the performence to stand out from the crowd. None of this comes without effort and hard work. Each and every aspect of his quest is fine tuned to gain just that little bit more over his competitors. The same is true for you and your dog if you wish to maximise your scores on the board and not live in hope that the dog just might look good and work well on the day and the opposition won't.

So, for some absolutes, know this dog will be the product of not just good breeding, but from many months prior, of attention to food, training, attitude, socialisation, condition and of course coat. This dog will be the outcome of much hard work on your part. What you did in the months before, will be what everyone sees and what the judge will measure your success by on the day. That's tough but it is true.

Now we have more than done our fair share of winning but I know it is because we have done the 100 little things most are not prepared to do. If I can but share some of the things that will guide you, it is up to you to do them. It is blood, sweat and tears and pushing through the barriers when you are tired to get everything done but ultimately, knowing you have worked hard to get there by your own efforts with the dog, it is magical when it all comes together in that much coveted win.

My husband always says the secret to success is Preparation, Preparation and Preparation and he is dead right. You can never prepare too much. It not only ensures everything is done to maximum best but it calms you and gives you confidence knowing you have done all you could. If the judge couldn't find your dog on the day, then there was likely a better dog or the judge liked a different style of that breed. Keep a list - I give judges an entry and if they don't find my dog, then I don't show that dog again to him. Simple.

Let me say that coats are not grown overnight - would that they could! Correct texture is paramount also. So, if I can impart even just one bit of wisdom, it is to ensure your dogs coat is constantly regenerating. The best way is to bath and blow dry every week, even when not showing. No amount of brushing, however judiciously, will get all the dead hair out to allow the new hair to grow. If you are showing short coated breeds, then you can stop the moth eaten holes that seem to appear when the dog sheds. Presenting a double coated breed with all the challenges of undercoat shedding, will be greatly enhanced by weekly bathing and blow drying allowing the coat to "roll" by just fluffing out rather than a big dump. Long coated breeds will benefit also from this same routine ensuring glossy, unmatted coats.

We bath all our dogs every week, showing them or not. If a big show is coming up, then twice weekly baths and blow drys is on the agenda. All of this is enabled by the use of Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil. This is the single most important item in your grooming room. It is Calendula Oil and Evening Primrose Oil and no cheap mundane carrier oils added. Just pure goodness that allows you to bath and blow dry every week without dehydrating the coat. Double coated, harsh coated and short coated breeds can have this as their show bath routine too. What would we do without Seabreeze Oil?

Please don't spray it on. Yes I know it has a spray nozzle but that is for the expediency of spraying onto long pee feathers for some breeds requiring urine stain protection. ALWAYS dilute otherwise. This ensures even dispersion and good penetration through to the skin over ALL the coat and skin. A good rule of thumb for dilution is 1 teaspoon per 1 litre. Then saturate the dog using a sponge and use all the mix. LEAVE IT ON and DO NOT RINSE. Do this immediately after shampooing and rinsing.

This is the basic core of your routine with the coats. It is the single most important part. The coats will be even and not scraggly, the skin will be good, the coats will retain texture as the Seabreeze Oil does not soften but protects and adds lustre and hydration thus retaining moisture.

The Herding Dogs, the Terriers and Arctic Breeds, especially need to retain texture and a conditioner is not an option as they simply cosmetically soften and flatten. Seabreeze Oil will compensate, and some, as a final rinse instead of conditioner and retain all the texture you need.

Yes it is a discipline to do this each and every week but it works. IT WORKS!!! I would not waste my time nor the time of others who work with me if it didn't. We have been doing this for years and the success of our coats is there for all to see. No matter how tired, how short of time or how cold it is etc, we still bath/oil/blow dry each dog every week.

Everything else is to tweak the coat to the individualism you want for each of your dogs. Six dogs of the same breed and they can all need something different! Tell me about it! LOL!

For the Terriers or Herding dogs where the owner worries that bathing them weekly will soften the coats, there are greater benefits to the skin and coat by doing it weekly than the worry of losing texture as we simply ensure that the shampoo is diluted to almost no bubbles thus minimising static in the coat and that with the oil not softening, you simply add Powder Puff Terrier very lightly once the coat is dry and you have an instantly harsh coated dog once more but he has the advantange of a better coat and a clean coat which in todays world is far nicer. We have good things to make coats perfect nowadays whereas once we didn't. People didn't get to wear underarm deodorant back then either but mostly they do now - thankfully! I count artifical additives to a coat as trying to cheat such as colouring the dog. I do not count it as incorrect to maintain a texture that has merely altered due to washing and needs to be restored to its natural feel.

The shorter coated Guard dogs and Gundogs need a modicum of texture too and not a soft fluffy coat. They too can benefit from a super light touch of Powder Puff Terrier if needed. However mostly Seabreeze Oil leaves a wonderful finish on its own. Just adore the feel of a Labrador coat after using Seabreeze Oil. All the sheen and feel of that as seen on duck feathers - perfect. Glamorous on a Doberman and the Mastiff breeds and gorgeous on Bostons and Frenchies etc and everything else.

Arctic Breeds truly need Seabreeze Oil. How else can you keep that waterproof finish, maintain texture and also the lift in the coat without Seabreeze Oil and still bath and blow dry weekly? Germans Shepherds, Belgians, German Spitz, Chows and the list goes on. They all need it to attain perfection in the conformation ring against the many hairdo breeds that can be sculpted and scissored.

Treat the coat too between shows. Slather on Plush Puppy Coat Rescue. A brilliant blend of everything known to man to be good, this is best when diluted to a slurry with water and slathered onto the coat ends and the topline. Leave for days if you can. Adds protein and wheatgerm and everything else that you need to "polyfiller" the shattered ends or mid lengths of the coat. Add some Seabreeze Oil at the same time - why not? We do!

Selecting the right shampoo for the right coat and then tweaking that again by using a separate shampoo for different parts of the coat. For example the Sheltie coat needs to be lifted and full in the front but flatter in the rear. Use Plush Puppy Body Building Shampoo in the front and the Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoo for the topline and rear as that doesn't bodify but gives great shine. Then use Plush Puppy Whitening Shampoo on the white areas.

For one famous dog we had, we used 5 different shampoos to attend to 5 areas on him. We cannot trim a Siberian so we created the silhouette by flattening and lifting the areas we wanted to. I use this same multiple shampoo process for all of my dogs. You see, the opportunities apply also to your own breed. If Body Building Shampoo lifts, All Purpose Shampoo gives shine and doesn't lift, Whitening Shampoo tones and brightens whites plus minimises unwanted warm tones, Conditioning Shampoo flattens and helps disentangle for a draping coat and Deep Cleansing Shampoo removes build up of products or discolouration, then you are now empowered to tweak your dog. For Terriers, use Plush Puppy Az Iz Shampoo which is low foaming and just what is needed to not lose texture.

Yes it takes 100 little things to get the dog right and a pain in the proverbial to have to use more than one shampoo on a dog instead of a quick, one fits all scenario and then to bath, oil and blow dry every week. We know it reaps results. We know it works. We know it shapes the dog and gives texture where a pair of scissors is not allowed or the dog has less coat than you wish or is out of coat or whatever reason. Address each and every dog every week on a fresh eyes evaluation process. Change constantly as the coat improves or the coat sheds due to litters or whatever.

Take a picture of your dog on a side stack. Now fit the silhouette of the ideal standard dog or one that you know is the dream of your heart and see if your dog fits that. If not, then you have some work to do by tweaking the outline.

There are many "Styling" products we have to achieve this tweaking once the hard core basics of bath/oil/blow dry have been done regularly and it is now show week. Go to www.plushpuppy.com.au and hit the button on the left hand lower side, BREED GROOMING ARTICLES, and scroll down to your breed. There is just about everything you will ever need to know about how to get the best from your dog. If you have a dog that is causing you some grief with an awkward coat issue, please feel free to email me for free "one on one" advice.

There are very few dogs out there not needing that extra assistance especially now with all the wonderful gear and gadgets that the hair do dogs have available and they too need to grow a coat well in advance too. You have to up the ante somewhat to ensure your dog is well groomed and not looking as if in from a field trial where masters of the past just fluffed over with a wet towel and that was it. Times have changed. We have all got better, generally the dogs have got better which is the purpose of breeding after all, and nothing stays the same forever. We all have to change and today is the day!

I could write books on how to get the best from everything you do for your dog. I don't have time with all that I do but I am willing to share knowledge and try to write advice that is of benefit to all. Just needs for you to action it.

CHERYL LECOURT