Maya Driver

Today is the first day of the Crufts dog show, which takes place at the NEC in Birmingham. You can buy tickets to see the show online or by telephone. It's a great show to take in with lots of competitions and also pet-related shopping.

There are four days of the show separated into different types of breed, so today hounds and terrier type dogs will be competing, tomorrow will be toy dogs and utility dogs (such as Golden Retrievers), Saturday will be gundogs and Sunday will be working and pastoral dogs such as Border Collies. The different competitions show how obedient the dogs are and with almost 28,000 dogs competing at the Crufts show, so you can see how important it is for the dogs to be well trained - otherwise there'd be chaos! It's always amazing to watch and if you're a dog owner then you'll be well aware of how difficult it can be to train your dog! Many people find they have to resort to obedience schools for their dogs because they are just too boisterous.

Since Britain is a nation of dog lovers, we all want to treat our dogs and make sure they have the best food and toys. At Crufts there are loads of stalls for exhibitors from the pet industry where you can pick up all sorts of goodies to pamper your pooch. You can find healthy, natural foods that cater for different kinds of dogs. There are chew toys, balls to fetch and toys for tug-of-war. Grooming equipment can also be found because dogs always find a way to get dirty. But if you don't want to scrub your dog yourself, or if you want a really professional job done, there are lots of pet grooming services who will leave your pet clean, shiny and even smelling sweet!

The aim of Crufts is to celebrate happy, healthy dogs and of course there will be many vets in attendance at the show to ensure the dogs are in the best of health. No dog likes to have a checkup, mine would wet herself whenever we took her to the V-E-T, but it is a necessary evil. It is also an expensive necessity and that's why it's a good idea to invest in pet insurance. You'll find lots of insurance stalls at the show, including Crufts' own pet insurance company.

As well as caring for your own dog, you may feel you want to do something for neglected and abused dogs. At Crufts you will also find animal charities exhibiting. There are plenty of dog and pet charities that could really use your support. You can make donations or sponsor a dog (which can be a great alternative to owning one, if that's not possible) and also support assistance dogs like guide dogs that make a huge difference to disabled people's lives.

After seeing all the dogs at Crufts (if you go) you might be overwhelmed by an urge to buy a dog for yourself. If you can definitely look after a new addition to your family, check out AOL Classifieds to find your new pet. You can search for puppies and older dogs of different breeds. You'll see from Crufts that there are a lot of different breeds to choose from and the breed of the dog should be factored in when deciding what to buy. Bigger dogs such as Labradors, Alsatians (also known as German Shepherds) and Bulldogs will require lots of exercise. Make sure you can keep up with them! Some dogs are supposed to be better for those with allergies such as Poodles, Bichon Frises and Schnauzers. Smaller breeds make lovely lap dogs such as Chihuahuas and Daschunds (sausage dogs) but don't forget these little guys need exercise too.

What's you favourite breed of dog? If you have a dog would you consider showing it at Crufts, or maybe you do show your dog? Leave a comment and tell us all about it.

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