- Know Your Limits – Can you show every weekend or just once a month? Let your friends know which shows you plan to attend and stick to your schedule.
- Set Realistic Goals – What does your friend want to achieve for her dog? A championship? Grand Championship? Group Placements? Make sure you’re both on the same page.
- Establish a Budget – Know how much money you’ll need on show weekends, but remember that showing dogs for a fee will jeopardize your amateur status. Your friend can thank you by treating you to lunch.
- Stick to a Routine – Repetition equals reputation. Practice good training habits so that you and the dogs you’re showing are in top condition and ready to compete.
- Keep Your Word – Honoring your commitment to show a friend’s dog will maintain your reputation for reliability. Make promises and keep them.
- Have a Contingency Plan – Ring conflicts occur at every show. Let your friend know if it is her dog or yours that is the priority.
- Be Prepared – Emergencies can and do happen. Be sure your cell phone is charged and programmed with the numbers of your hotel, emergency vets, and roadside assistance.
- Take Time Out – The pressures to win can be great, but the welfare of the dogs must always come first. Be sure to take time out each day for a game of fetch or a little cuddling.
- Reevaluate Priorities – If a single loss pushes you over the edge, showing dogs may not be for you. Consider other ways that you can participate such as volunteering your time to a local dog club.
- Have Fun –Amateurs have the advantage of showing dogs because it’s fun, not because the mortgage is due. Keeping things fun is up to you. So, remember to smile—win or lose.
A version of this list first appeared in the September 2016 Dogs in Review magazine.