How the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ George Johnson Spends His Time Off


When you think of a defensive lineman for the NFL, are dog shows the first thing that springs to mind? No, of course they don’t.

But that’s exactly what George Johnson does in his off time: Dog shows.

He Got Started Early

Not with dog shows, but being around lots of dogs. Johnson told that his uncle had a lot of dogs when he was growing up so he became attuned with them and enjoyed being around them.

So, in his last year of college he started getting into showing dogs thanks to his uncle’s encouragement. And he thought dog shows would be fun and a great way to form a bond with his own dogs.

Show Prep

Like football, Johnson watches films. Tons of reels on dog shows. And, like football footage, Johnson manages to pick up some valuable tips that will help in the show ring.

A Day in the Life

On show day, Johnson says he keeps a regular schedule. If the show isn’t far away, he makes sure to feed his dogs prior to heading out. For a long drive, he waits to feed them at the show.

After arriving at the show, he gets them registered, takes them for bathroom breaks and sets up his area for grooming.

Once in the ring, the fun starts. While walking around may look simple to an observer, it can be really complex for a handler. Walking must be done a certain way and the dog must stay in a prescribed position.

Training to keep them at attention at just the right time must start from puppyhood.

Predictably Unpredictable

The toughest thing about showing dogs, says Johnson, is that you never know how they will react in the ring on any given day. Like humans, they may be having an off day. Even pros have bad days and that can happen to your dog too.


The Best Time Ever

Johnson says that his best experience at a dog show was when his female American Bully won her first show and they were set up in the best of breed ring. While she lost that competition, Johnson was pleasantly surprised by how well she did.

American bullies are like pit bulls but generally stockier. He currently has one dog on the show circuit, a female named Pepper and a dog show hopeful named Mambo.


As with any athlete, dogs on the dog show circuit needs to train. Johnson spends time every day working with them on commands, routines and other types of training including some of the tips he has learned from watching dog show footage.

 Which One?

When asked which activity spawned more anxiety, an NFL game or a dog show, Johnson’s answer was no contest: A dog show. Why? He knows what to anticipate in a football game.

Although he’s relatively new to the dog show circuit, he’s getting the hang of it and hopes Mambo will be a huge success in the ring.



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