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How To Prepare a German Shepherd Puppy for a Conformation Show

Updated on August 11, 2010

Does your dog have what it takes to excel in the show ring?

german shepherd, show dog, phila67, morguefile.com
german shepherd, show dog, phila67, morguefile.com

If you own a show-quality German Shepherd puppy that looks promising for a future in the ring, start training as soon as possible. To compete in conformation shows, dogs must not only adhere to the breed standard but must also move in certain ways and demonstrate being comfortable when attentively examined by the judge. Early training is a must since German Shepherd puppies can already participate in their first show when they are between six and nine months of age.


As the owner of a potential show dog, the first place to start is to learn as much as you can about the breed. That means read books, go to dog shows, frequent the professionals of the trade. Study the breed standards of the German Shepherd in depth and learn to recognize the flaws. Hopefully, you will have already done all of this before adopting the puppy!

How to Train Your Puppy for the Ring

  • Socialize your puppy as much as you can. You want your puppy to get used to being around many people and crowds from a young age. The most crucial times for socializing puppies is between four weeks and four and a half months. Take advantage of this brief window of opportunity to make sure your puppy is well used to seeing people and being in new environments.
  • Practice having strangers run their fingers through the coat and check the puppy's teeth. This will mimic what the judge will do in the puppy's future. Praise lavishly and reward your puppy after each encounter!
  • Enroll your vaccinated puppy in puppy classes. This will help your puppy feel comfortable being around other dogs and strangers and will teach some basics commands that may result important in the future in the show ring. Your puppy will learn to pay attention to you in distracting environments and see you as its leader.
  • A future of getting groomed await your potential show dog. Treat and praise for every little accomplishment as your puppy gets used to being groomed. This involves brushing, bathing, clipping nails and trimming fur, as well as getting accustomed to the noise of the blow dryer.
  • Ensure your puppy gets used to wearing a flat collar. Once the puppy is comfortable wearing it, you can gradually start getting your puppy used to the lead and being walked around. Choose a show leash and enroll in handling classes if you want to learn all the basics of showing in the conformation ring. These classes will ensure both you and your puppy develop the skills required to excel.
  • Learn how to properly stack your puppy. German Shepherds are stacked differently from other breeds. For the dog to stack well, one rear leg must be under the body while the other one is extended.

Remember to make training sessions for puppies brief. They are not able to focus for much time yet. Always use positive reinforcement training methods based on rewards with food and toys. Never physically punish your puppy. This may cause insecurity and lack of confidence which can be deleterious for a future in the show ring. Be persistent, consistent and make training fun and your puppy may be likely to have a great career in the show ring!

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    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 

      8 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      I used to show German Shepherds and Shetland Sheepdogs years ago. Great advice and your hub brought back some great memories.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      8 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      A "dog-gone" good hub. Thanks for sharing!

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