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How To Win Purina's Dog Show USA Contest - Tips from Top Judges
Exclusive Report By Diane West

Ever wonder how you can increase your dog's chances of winning a contest where you send in a picture or video of him or her? New York Tails asked David Frei, well-known host of the famous and prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, actor John O'Hurley (Dancing With the Stars, Seinfeld, Family Feud) and legendary BMX bike star and NBC host Kenan Harkin just what it takes to win Dog Show USA, sponsored by Purina. Visit for complete entry information and to check out the competition.

If you haven't yet entered Purina's big Dog Show USA you'd better hurry--all entries submitted online through the Dog Show USA website MUST be received by January 3rd, 2007 at 3 pm EST; if you're mailing in a photo or video, it has to be postmarked by December 29th and received no later than January 3rd, 2007, also by 3 pm EST.

How To Win - Straight from the Judges' Mouths
We just came right out and asked them during a conference call earlier this month--how do you guys judge the entries, and how do you and your dog increase your chances of winning? We found out a number of interesting things.

Votes Don't Count!
Did you know the judges (at least in Dog Show USA) are NOT influenced by the number of votes a dog receives from the online audience? Nope. At least not in the first round

"We're not influenced by the number of votes that come in," said Mr. Frei. "The choice is made by the judges only."

What does happen is this: on January 4th, the day after the first stage of the contest closes, online ratings are "captured" and then presented to a "Blue Ribbon Panel" of dog experts for consideration as they select 10 finalists from each of the following competition "Categories": the Hound Group, the Herding Group, the Non-Sporting Group, the Terrier Group, the Toy Group, the Sporting Group, the Working Group, the Mixed/Other Group, Owner Look-Alike, Best Trick, and Cutest Face, from eligible entries received (total of 110 dogs).

So, yes, you can keep clicking, and have all your friends, family, and coworkers do the same every singe day for as many times as you can get away with (you know who you are) but keep in mind that, at least for this round, it ain't worth a pile of...beans. The number of votes are merely "considered" by the judges, who will make up their own minds, anyway. (More on how they do that later.)

However, your votes will carry much more weight come January 15th. The polls open to the public and you can vote for the winner from each of the breed categories (total of 8), which will then advance to the Best In Show round. In addition, you are invited to vote for the final 3 dogs in each one of the humorous categories (total of 9) Pools for the first round of voting will close on Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 3:00 p.m. E.S.T.

How to Win -- Motion and Personality
Ah, YouTube. You're already causing a social schism between the videos and the video-nots. Even at DogShow USA.

Sure, you can still send in pictures of your dog--to DogShow USA and most other contests--but videos are the "it" thing now.

"You will definitely increase your chances of wining if you send in a video," sports star Mr. Harkin told New York Tails. "We like to see dogs in motion."

There are a number of ways to get your video to Dog Show USA. You can send a copy by surface mail (but, again, at this late date, better to upload it if you can.) There are very specific instructions and file formats if you go this route--surface mail or Internet delivery--please visit the Frequently Asked Questions site of the DogShow USA website to save yourself a lot of time and grief.

Your video should be short and sweet--30-60 seconds, tops. There's other important information, too: you also should not have pictures of children, pictures of "pictures" or copywrited material in your spot, among other things (See? I told you there's a lot of good info there!) Definitely visit the Frequently Asked Questions page.

"Pooch" sonlaity
Whether video or still shots--the judges unanimously agree the best chance you have of winning is by capturing the unique personality of your dog and not try to impress the judges with a lengthy program of, to quote a late-night comedienne, "stupid dog tricks."

"I remember I disqualified an entry because the owner had the dog going through an unending litany of tricks," Mr. Frei said. "I hate to see dogs forced to do that or look like they're in a 'reality TV' episode. Just let the dog be a dog."

Mr. O'Hurley, a recent Dancing With the Stars contestant, agrees. "Just let your dog's unique personality come through."

Good luck! Let New York Tails know if there are any New York/New Jersey/Connecticut area finalists out there!

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Most recent update: 12/28/06
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