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Unhappy show dog

4297 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Foxhunter
Hello friends!

I have a question:
James is my only purebred Labrador, so I like to run shows with him!
While other Labradors are always happy, waggling their tale, James looks a bit sad. He never waggles his tale or looks happy. He's only a bit happy when he get his snack! I am crazy enthusiast when I show him, sing songs to him, compliment him, but nothing helps!

Anyone has some tips/advice?

I would love to know what you think about my little man!



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Maybe he's bored? Can you teach him some tricks to do before he goes into the ring? It may liven him up a bit?

He's very cute... is his tail shorter than 'normal'? (Honest question, I don't know the breed standard)
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Does he show signs of stress? Whale eye, lip licking, yawning, scratching etc?
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Some dogs just might not like showing. Maybe he is more of an agility, obedience ect kind of dog. Just because a child is good at soccer doesn't mean he should have to play if he doesn't want to. I think the same logic applies to canines.
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Is he showing signs of stress or is he just less than fully engaged?

I would try teaching him tricks to keep him entertained, like someone else said, for him to do while you're waiting for your chance to be judged. Fun things like paw, high five, sit pretty, maybe even things like spin and speak. They'll be good if he's less than engaged or stressed- just little fun things to keep his focus on you and allow you to stuff him full of treats. I would imagine that in a Lab ring there's a lot of waiting around for judging because shows are so saturated with labs.

I was interested to see a lot of the handlers I saw at breed rings in westminster doing that- one female Boston Terrier in particular was clearly bored waiting to be judged and her handler had her sit pretty for treats to keep her entertained. Very cute, and it's fun for the people watching!
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Thank you everyone for your replies!
It's greatly appreciated!!

He doesn't show any signs of stress, so I guess it might be boredom:D!
Next time, I'll def. try some tricks before I go in the ring!


If he likes doing the tricks, and seems more animated and happy when he has specific tasks to do, I'd second the suggestion that you try something new with him too. Doesn't mean you can't keep showing in confirmation, but consider looking into obedience or rally or agility or even therapy, all of which can lead to AKC titles. Or dock diving or frisbee or any of the hundreds of things at which labs seem to excel (I say seem to because I've never owned one myself, so I'm just going by what I've seen other people do with them in person or on TV). A lot of people around here hunt with them too, though I'm not into hunting myself. The search and rescue team here has several labs on it as well.
A dog has to love the showing job and have the personality to be saying 'Hey, look at me, aren't I handsome?'

If they haven't got the enthusiasm then find another job for him, do you have field trials ?
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