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How to Become a Show Dog Handler – 5 Great Tips

Dog Show Handler

Becoming a dog handler isn’t easy. You have to learn and be comfortable with many things to prove to others and yourself that you can do it correctly. But with a few tricks, you can see what others are doing to get ahead with canine training and what you can do to be successful in this endeavor.

That’s why we’ve made a list of five tips on how to become a show dog handler. Let’s get into it!

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The 5 Tips for Becoming a Show Dog Handler

1. Find a Mentor

One of the best ways to learn dog show handling fast is to get insight from an experienced professional. A trainer who knows the ropes can teach you behavioral cues and may allow you to participate in activities hands-on. You can ask them questions and find out what they did to become successful. After all, most mentors will be glad to help you handle dogs correctly because they don’t want you to make the same mistakes they did.

Irish terrier at dog show
Image Credit: LRuss, Pixabay

2. Research Each Breed

Whether you’re handling a Chihuahua or a Retriever, it’s important to know what makes each dog breed different. Some have natures that are more relaxed, whereas others are quite the opposite. Plus, physical traits can play a role in how you handle a dog, as dogs of different ages and sizes may go through different types of training.

If you only plan on dealing with one breed of dog, then you’ll cut out a lot of time. Then again, all dogs are different, even if they are the same breed.

different dog breeds in white background

Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

3. Learn the Cues

Dog shows require a lot of walking and stopping, so it’s essential to teach your dog how to remain patient. There are a lot of different commands that you’ll have to run through depending on which competitions you and your pup plan to participate in. Study these as much as you can before you take action so you know what to do when it comes to real practice. Get the right tone down, and you’ll be able to perform commands effortlessly.

dogs with owner at show
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

4. Practice Hands-On

Once you feel comfortable and have enough experience with handling dogs off-stage, it’s time to get into the fun part. At this point, repetition is key, but always be gentle and spend short amounts of time practicing to ensure your companion doesn’t become bored. After practicing the same cues over and over, you’ll eventually be able to tell a dog what actions to take without thinking much; it’ll be second nature.

When you’re starting, though, it’s always wise to have another person with you who knows about dog handling; that way, they can take over in the event that something goes wrong. In any case, stay calm and composed!

Australian Shepherd at a Dog Show
Image Credit: LRuss, Pixabay

5. Read Books on Dog Show Handling

Although trial and error are the truest forms of learning, it’s not a smart idea to go into dog handling blindly. Reading books and other articles on how to handle dogs is absolutely essential if you want to become a professional. Look for work done by people who have extensive experience so that you can learn from the mistakes they made as a beginner. Study every day, and you’ll know the basics in no time.

wirehair fox terrier at dog show
Image Credit: Pixabay



The process of training a dog to perform in shows successfully is no small achievement. Above all, your relationship with the pooch you teach will grow dramatically. The key takeaway is to not burn out the dog and put as much effort into practice as you both can. We hope these five tips helped you out so you and your pup can walk away with a win and a grin!

Featured Image Credit: monicore, Pixabay

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