Crufts Dog Show; why we enjoy it and how we help our dogs

Crufts Dog Show is described as ‘The World’s Greatest Dog Show’!! That’s a lot of pressure on 4 days but as it’s been running since 1891 I guess there’s not many others that come close!

Crufts, by The Kennel Club, runs around the second weekend of March each year at the NEC in Birmingham and this year, 2024, it’s from 7th to 10th March (sorry Mum, Mother’s Day has been moved so clashes!)

There is a huge divide about Crufts with people who love going, taking part or aspire to visit compared to people who dislike the idea of breed showing, breeds (instead of rescue) in general, the Kennel Club and more. Today I wanted to give some insight on why we are going to be at Crufts as usual, how we look after our dogs while there and prepare them for it!

So yes, we will be at Crufts as usual this year; 

We help on the Norwich Terrier breed stand in the Discover Dogs area, giving people a chance to see a vulnerable native breed and also see if a terrier type is right for them. Discover Dogs is part of Crufts as well as having it’s own show in London in Autumn too and there’s a separate stand for every recognised breed in U.K. People with a specific breed can visit their stand to say hi, catch up, ask for advice etc and people thinking about getting a dog can ask real owners what the breed is like including grooming needs, size, availability etc and get to see the dogs up close to see what they really look like, check out fur type…

The Norwich Terrier Breed Stand is Hall 3, Stand T20 and this year we are here Saturday 12.30-4pm x

Joe, Merlin & Ripley on the Norwich Terrier Breed Stand at Crufts

Our own dogs, Merlin and Ripley, love the attention but if they do get tired they have their own space to nap in any time. It’s a busy environment with people rocking up ready to stroke a dog – sometimes any and every dog, sometimes specifically that breed – and all that stroking can help dogs start dosing off lol. It’s also noisy with people taking around your stand, dogs barking and chatting, tannoy systems, clapping from the show rings etc so not all dogs will cope with this. We take our crate, which our dogs not only like to use but actively enjoy being in (positive training for the win!!) which means we can rotate dogs too.

This year we will have our rescue Havanese dog, Pepper Potts, with us and she’s never been to a dog show! She does love her crate, will get plenty of breaks outside, and I’ll be taking plenty of resources with us in case she becomes over excited, worried, overwhelmed etc: Being on the breed stand means we have our own space to work in.

Joe with new Romanian Rescue, Pepper Potts

I’ve shown at Crufts several times and although yes there are valid points being made that dogs are shown with heads pulled up, or left in crates etc, it’s like everything and each owner has the option to do things better for their own dogs. Here’s how I do things to benefit my own dogs;

I’ve never shown my terriers with their head pulled up – in fact I’ve previously been scolded for having a loose lead lmao! I play games when waiting for our turn to be judged in the ring, practise tricks and Heelwork to music moves, give treats and use toys and I 100% can see how happy my dogs are being there and showing off! In the ring we have our own area to stand in and if you do feel hemmed in you can move when first getting settled! Actually as we are a vulnerable breed we have even more space!

We do have show leads which are different to regular collar and leads; generally they are all in one (slip collar and lead) and are lightweight and designed to help your dog show their profile and body shape better than a clunky lead, harness etc. My favourite lead I had made specifically and it’s very short so that I can loop the handle over one finger to hold as I can’t easily grip with my hands hurting most of the time. It’s the same colour as my dogs’ fur to blend in and a soft leather to not damage the fur. When Merlin puts his show lead on he literally stands in a pose ready to be admired – much like a guide dog knows they are working when their harness is put on them or a tracking dog knows what their harness is for! There are many ways to teach our dogs for all sports and activities and I choose reward based, positive, fun training and all my Norwich Terriers love strutting their stuff!

Merlin and Ripley at Crufts 2019

They are groomed for Crufts (actually I need to up my game!) but I groom them year round too so it’s not a sudden burst of 2 hours sessions. Removing any knots for comfort, trimming paws to prevent slipping, stripping out dead fur to prevent itching etc is something I do regularly anyway and when we have a dog show, photos etc I do more than comfort and add in more hand stripping and ensure they don’t have ridiculous eyebrows (Ripley!!!). I know that for Crufts and other dog shows some owners go further with using sprays to set the coat, fluffing up the coat for more body etc, which is down to the owner making those choices and not something I am able to truly comment on as I’ve never done them!!

Merlin and I have been part of Heelwork To Music displays a few times, showing how fun positive training can be and also that small dogs / terriers can do fantastic things!! He is such a show off lol! We’ve really enjoyed taking part in demos and displays, not just at Crufts but also shows like Edition Dog, All About Dogs and Classic Festivals and Events and demos include exercises and games the dogs enjoy, they have practise during the year to ensure they are not stressed and it’s something we get to do together!

Joe and Merlin doing HTM at Crufts

While there is a lot I like about the dog show, something I dislike is that so many people do not expect to see dogs while they walk around so I’m constantly watching for feet, bags etc to not catch my dogs. In fairness dogs entered in the show aren’t supposed to be wondering round for hours on end but they do need to go to toilet areas, maybe taken to a stand to be measured for a jacket, harness etc or to sample a new food. There is a lot of walking involved even when doing the breed stand so getting dogs outside for natural toiletting can take some planning to reach the access doors although there are plenty of indoor toilet areas for dogs. Getting to your stand, show ring, activity ring etc means entering through Hall 1 or 5 and then navigating crowds, dog show trolleys, other dogs etc to find your destination and that includes long ramps and steps from one hall to another!!

If you are part of the breed stands you cannot leave before 4pm so that is worth noting if you feel your dog may be tired after the morning stint and need to go home.. If you did the morning session and finished 12.30 you won’t be permitted to leave until 4pm as you and your dogs a considered part of the show! However you do see queues of people with their dogs in show trollies from about 3.30pm waiting to leave so the dogs aren’t really doing anything for people to watch and surely they have done their duty now so are due for heir leave? I’ve never agreed with the not allowed to leave before 4pm as a breed stand contributor, as once off the stand or out of the show ring etc dogs have done their bit for the show and let’s face there are hundreds more dogs to see still on the breed stands, in the show rings and display areas! We always do the afternoon slots so are on the stand until 4pm anyway but it’s a consideration if people think about taking part. Interestingly, you can arrive anytime to start your afternoon slot!

But the shopping!!! Omg!! There’s something for everyone – rare breeds, cross breeds, rescue dogs, rehomed dogs, dogs with disabilities… you’ll find things you never knew existed but instantly know you’ll need them lol!! I don’t enjoy shopping most of the year and literally never go into a town, retail park etc aside from visiting a pet store, animal feed store for our poultry etc or the weekly supermarket visit. Anything I need is done online and to be honest, if you’ve met me you’ll see I’m hardly up to date with fashion lol! However at Crufts it’s like I’m doing Supermarket Sweep and can look at dog stuff for hours! This year our saved up spending money is for an equafleece for Pepper Potts as she is much longer in the body than Merlin and Ripley so their spares look like a tank top on her! Plus her own collar and lead set as she is using one of Cassie’s, a visit some of our favourite stands like Feelwells, Eden Pet Foods, Little Dog Laughed, Touchango (canine fitness equipment), Camddwr Canine (more canine fitness equipment!), Tuff-E-Nuff Toys and as many treat stands as possible!!

Merlin & Ripley shopping for Collars and Leads Crufts 2023

Another reason I do my year’s worth of dog shopping there is there are many show discounts and offers! Some stalls have a freebie when you buy something. Some will have offers with price reductions or 3 for 2 etc. There swill be prizes draws or instant win for visiting a stand. Many also have sample bags so look for goodie bags etc while browsing!!

Shopping does really zap my energy so two days in a row of shopping, crowds etc and it’s more than enough but remember its 4 days if you can handle it!!

This year I’m also helping Debby on the Kids Around Dogs stand so will be there to talk to people about the importance of safety for children and dogs around each other plus how we can help children and adults who have a fear of dogs. I’ll be there with my dogs on the Sunday between 1-3pm so do come and see us, have a photo with my dogs, show us what you’ve bought lol

Kids Around Dogs stand is Hall 4 Stand 54.

Debby & Ripley on the Kids Around Dogs Stand at Crufts

Do be aware that only dogs who are entered for showing or part of the show like the breed stands are permitted into crufts; something I’m in full agreement with! It’s an extremely busy and unnatural environment and a large percentage of pet dogs would be utterly overwhelmed there. Dogs entered or part of the show are allocated areas to have their own space and a rest if wanted but this wouldn’t be available for hundreds of spectator dogs. While browsing trade stands and watching displays etc it’s hard to keep an eye on our dogs too so they end up plodding along with their owners, move along, stop, move along, stop. It’s harder for owners to watch showing etc while ensuring our dogs aren’t peeing up merchandise on a stall! It’s also very warm, noisy, and very odd for a lot of dogs! They are also on lead the whole time which can be confusing for dogs who are used to being off lead.

Dogs who are part of the show are sent dog and handler tickets and without these you cannot take a dog in or out of the show. Don’t loose your tickets!! You’ll need to show them to get in with your dog, one pass for each dog. If you want to take your dog outside you’ll need your ticket to get your dog out and back in, and when you leave you will need it to remove your dog. This is to help prevent dogs being stolen or dogs/puppies being sold at the show.

I love the parts of Crufts that I am involved in, and always advocate for my own dogs so they are comfortable, happy and enjoying the experiences, but I do prepare my dogs for being out at shows etc to help them!! There’s no ‘turn up and hope for the best’ but lots of Preparation on visiting places, ensuring my dog bag has everything my dogs will need for a months trekking (lol) and planning our days for our dogs’ needs.

I’ll be updating our Crufts journey while we are there via our Facebook page and Instagram. If you’ll be there let us know!

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Tug-e-Nuff (affiliate link with cheeky discount code for you!) –

Feelwells –

Eden –

Little Dog Laughed –

Touchango –

Equafleece –

Camddwr Canine –

Kids Around Dogs –

Sent from my iPhone