Friday, January 4, 2013

6 Tips for a Successful Farm Show Outing with Your Puppy in Training

Who’s excited for the Pennsylvania Farm Show? The largest indoor agricultural event in the United States officially opens tomorrow, and many of us in Central PA wait all year for a taste of that Farm Show food!

Many of our puppy raisers will be taking their dogs in training to the Farm Show. In fact, it’s an optional puppy outing for our dogs. (Make sure you send Becky a write-up so you get credit. Bonus points for photos!) The Farm Show might be one of the most difficult outings for our dogs, no matter what age they are. There are tons of people, all kinds of animals that the dogs may never have seen or smelled before, tight spaces to maneuver, and plenty of food and other things on the floor that dogs find tasty. 

However, it doesn’t have to be a terrible experience. The Farm Show is a fantastic training opportunity and wonderful experience for our dogs. You can make sure your dog has a successful outing if you take the time to plan ahead.

6 Tips for a Successful Farm Show Outing with Your Puppy in Training

Go with a Plan
Fifteen minutes of careful planning can mean the difference between a successful outing and a nightmare. The Farm Show is a challenge, so don’t expect to be able to tour the entire show with your puppy. Instead, focus on having a short, successful outing. If you’ve never been to the Farm Show before, it may be helpful to look at the map so you know which halls might offer your dog the highest chance of success.

Once you get to the Farm Show, don’t be afraid to take things slowly. Last year, SSD Hale and her puppy raiser Donna found a quiet corner in the bovine hall so that Hale could get acclimated to the sudden onslaught of smells and new animals. After Hale had refocused, they stuck to the perimeter of the hall until they passed the cows, and then Hale had no problem with the goats and sheep. Taking a few moments to help your dog focus can make the outing successful.

Power Treats, Power Treats, and More Power Treats!
If ever an outing called for power treats, the Farm Show is it! This is the time to pull out those special treats that keep your dog focused on you, no matter what else is going on around them. Spray cheese, small pieces of chicken, beef, salmon, liver, peanut butter – whatever works for your dog. Make sure you have more than you think you’ll need. And since your dog will probably be getting lots of treats, you may want to cut back on their breakfast or dinner.

Watch Your Dog’s Body Language
Keep an eye on your dog’s body language. Recognizing the signs of stress early on could mean the difference between simply moving on to a different hall and leaving the show entirely. If they’re getting stressed or too excited, it may be time to find a quiet corner to refocus or even leave the show. Knowing your dog’s body language can also help you manage your dog’s behavior.

Stay Calm
Your reactions at the other end of the leash are just as important as your dog’s. Dogs pick up on our emotions and if you stay calm, even in a stressful situation, your dog is more likely to stay calm.

Be Respectful of Other Animals
You may be having a successful outing with your dog handling everything like a pro, but please be mindful of the other animals. While your dog might be perfectly calm around the chickens, the chickens may not be happy being around your dog. If the other animals seem stressed by your dog’s presence, please be respectful and leave the area.

Be Prepared for Lots of Attention
As some of our puppy raisers have learned, there can be lots of different animals around, but people will still want to pet your dog. In fact, some kids pay more attention to the dog than to the farm animals! Be prepared to get lots of attention, especially if you have a young puppy. Don’t be afraid to tell people to ignore your dog if you think your dog will have trouble doing a calm greeting. Remember, your dog is in training, and although it’s important for them to learn how to do calm greetings, it’s also important for them to learn that they can’t get attention from everyone they meet. Tell people “No” when you need to.

We hope you and your dog have a fun, successful outing at the Farm Show! If you have other tips, please share them in the comments.

We can’t wait to hear about all of our puppies’ Farm Show experiences!


  1. oh I wish I could go to the Farm Show just to see the SSD puppies!! I'm home sick with the flu...blah. no fun. Happy Tails :)

  2. All excellent points to remember!