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The wet towel
If you have ever seen me at a dog show you may have noticed that before each dog I show enters the ring that it is standing on a wet towel.
And of course if you have never seen me at a dog show I cam going to tell you that before each dog I show enters the ring it does indeed stand on a wet towel.
And here are the reasons why.
First, there are the physical reasons. Dog show footing surfaces are often slippery. Having the pads of your dog’s feet wet acts the same why it does when you lick your fingers and count your money. You have better traction. Even of you are showing outdoors the grass can get stamped down from previous dogs being shown and then it gets slippery as well. I like the wet towel better than a product like “tacky paw” or similar as when you put something sticky on your dogs feet they tend to pick up all the dirt, dust and hair from the show and then the product no longer works. Also we are putting product on our dogs’ feet that could block some of the “sweating” ability of the dogs pads. I don’t like dogs to lick this off of their feet and being allergic or having it upset their stomach. An added bonus is that wet towels are free and the vendors never run out of them.
The second reason for using a wet towel is the mental component. As our dog’s handler we know when we are in the ring. We have watches, schedules and we know what class is in the ring before us. Our dogs do not have any of those abilities. It is vital to your dog’s performance that they can also mentally prepare themselves to enter the ring. The wet towel provides the cue for them to get ready.
If about 10 minutes before each time you enter the ring you have your dog on the wet towel you will provide your dog with nice wet, cool feet and a better than average chance of not slipping in the ring. In addition you will also provide your dog with a mental cue that they are about to go into the ring. This is as important for your dog as it is for you.
You should tell yourself that once your dog is on the wet towel that this is the time to focus on your dog and what you are going to do. In my experience the wet towel also acts as a “marker” for the people around you. They tend to not step or stand on the towel. This in turn gives your dog a little more personal space before they have to enter the ring. I like to call it my “doggy green room”.
Next time you are at a show take an extra towel, get it wet, wring it out and give this method a try! If you would like more information on this method or any others take a look at my “The Ultimate Guide to Handling Your Dog“.