Beginner’s Dog Show Etiquette
If you are a visitor, there are some guidelines you should follow when attending the shows to ensure competing exhibitors can do their very best, and to make sure you enjoy your time at the shows as much as possible.
- Always ask before petting any dog. Whether the dog is competing or not, the owner or handler (person showing a dog) put a lot of time, energy and work into grooming the dog for the shows. Never go up and start petting a dog; always ask permission.
- Wait until handlers have completely finished showing before asking questions. Before an event, the handler or owner is focused on making sure his dog is prepared and groomed to compete before entering the ring. If the competitor wins a class, oftentimes he may have to go back in the ring to compete again. Waiting until after breed judging has closed is polite and will give the person more time to answer your questions.
- Turn off your cell phones, or put them on vibrate or silent mode. Loud ringtones and songs can be distracting, not only to any animal that can hear it, but also to a dog’s handler or owner who is extremely focused on doing well in the event in which he is competing.
- Stay away from ring entrances. During competitions, there is a steady flow of people and dogs in and out of the event ring, so be careful not to block any entrance to the ring or the flow of traffic in the aisle while waiting to ask a question, or watching the event.
- For your comfort, we also suggest you wear comfortable, low-heeled, rubber-soled shoes.
Glossary of Dog Show Terms
- Angulation — angles created by bones meeting at their given joints
- Baiting — the use of a treat to get the dog’s attention and have it look alert
- Bitch — term for a female dog
- Class — one of six categories in which dogs may be entered:
- Puppy — dog aged six to 12 months
- 12 to 18 Months — dog aged 12 to 18 months
- Novice — has never won first place in any other class, or has won fewer than three ribbons in novice
- Bred by Exhibitor — the exhibitor is also the dog’s breeder
- American Bred — shows for dogs born in America with parents mated in the U.S.
- Open — any dog breed may compete
- Dog — term for male dogs
- Exhibitor — anyone involved in bringing a dog to a show and entering it to compete in an AKC event
- Soundness — refers to a dog’s mental and physical well-being
- Stacking — the process of posing the dog’s legs and body to create a pleasing profile during conformation judging