436 – 10 Tips to Ease Your Journey in the Dog Show World

Back to School (2)

Laura on Etiquette – 10 Tips to Ease Your Journey in the Dog Show World

Alright crew, we’re here in October, Back to School Month at Pure Dog Talk, and we’re going to touch on ten different areas that are common questions from listeners. Many of these are topics that have been addressed, either in passing or at some level, but now we’re going to drill down on some of them to the nitty gritty details.

One of our earliest episodes, available in the archives at  4 – How to Master the Dog Show Ring, covered these and a variety of other topics. If you haven’t, for sure take a listen to that episode for more on these areas.

Bitches in Season

  • Vicks/vanilla for dogs
  • Pants other cleanliness for bitches
  • Courtesy check


  • Was it Intentional or Otherwise
  • Bait and Squeakies
  • Watch Me covers a multitude of sins
  • Just like our other rights, you do you, right up until it hurts somebody else

Spacing in the ring

  •             Special COVID note
  •             Normally 3’ between dogs, especially on the move, now 6’ and it’s even better!
  •             Judge’s perspective
  •             Handler’s perspective

CLEAN dogs

  •             I’m STILL hearing judges talk about dirty dogs. CLEARLY those are NONE of my listeners!
  •             Revisit episodes 4, 73 and 107 if you have questions or want a refresher course on getting your dog CLEAN.
  • Share the information with friends and newer exhibitors who might not have it.

Multiple entries

In many low entry or rare breeds, toy and specialist breeds, 4-8 dogs isn’t an uncommon entry for one owner or handler to bring to the ring. Handlers generally have assistants and a proven system for getting the dogs smoothly and easily into the ring. Here are some of the methods they use to succeed.

  • Plan ahead
    • Find a friend – junior handlers, friends in other breeds, friends or competitors in your own breed. Whoever it is, plan for the ring AHEAD of time, not as you’re all rushing to the ring with two dogs in each hand. And yes, trust me, I’ve done this. Owner handlers have a decided advantage in this area by having only their own animals and ring time to worry about.
  • Be organized
    • Bring crates, have leashes for each dog, put armbands in order on YOUR arm if you will show them all in their respective classes, armband stays with the dog if someone is holding.
  • Don’t enter 6 dogs and try to do it all by yourself. Chihuahuas flying everywhere, crates stacked above eye level, frustrated judge, exasperated ring steward, frantic owner, NONE of this is a recipe for success.
  • Remember, the judge has been scheduled for 2 minutes per dog, if they are lucky. Every second you waste juggling dogs is time the judge isn’t evaluating your entry.

Showing in the Group

With the advent of Owner Handled groups, I see this less often. But I still hear from owner handlers that say “why should I waste my whole day waiting around for groups when I’m just going to lose”…… I wish I could say that I’m kidding. OK, so there’s a whole lot to break down there.

  • Wasted days – don’t waste your time! Spend it wisely. Watch professional handlers showing breeds like yours. Watch owner handlers showing other breeds. Learn by watching. Look up from your phone long enough to actually see what’s happening in the ring. Watch a talented professional or amateur trim their dogs. Ask a respected professional to evaluate your dog, your trim or your handling. Watch a judge go through an entire ring of different breeds. What stands out? Learn to SEE not just look. Watch where the judge puts their hands on the dogs. Use your smart phone for something useful and pull up the breed standards of the breeds being judged and follow along.
  • Negative attitude – One absolutely guaran-damn-teed way NOT to win is not to show up. The second easiest way to not win is to have that type of negative attitude. Dog shows are a stage. You are *presenting* your dog… when was the last time you saw Tom Cruise or Demi Moore or Pink up on stage lacking confidence? They rise because of that, not the other way around. What you give off is what you get back.
  • Missed opportunities – what other chance are judges, other exhibitors and, someday again, spectators going to have to see your breed. Judges pay attention. They sit outside the group ring and watch and chat amongst themselves. You aren’t just showing to the judge in the ring, you are showing to tomorrow’s breed judge and the group judge the day after that….

Win photos

  • Revisit episodes 121, 30
  • Train for the photo
  • Know the image you want to make
  • RELAX!

Judge Changes/moveups/juniors with dog change etc

  • Judge change – can receive refund, why you need to arrive at the show early, pay attention to online alerts etc. May mean schedule change, etc. If you can’t/choose not to arrive at the show by 30 minutes before judging begins for the day (not your ring, for the day) you don’t get to bitch when your 10 am ring is re-scheduled for 2 p.m. … Piss Poor Planning …. Leads to Poor Performance…. on Your Part Does Not Create an Emergency on Mine… both are true
  • Finished champion, move up to BOB
    • Do it the day before… easier on everyone
  • Juniors can change dogs when bitch in season, original dog not available etc…


Congratulations and thank you are not poisonous substances that will strike you dead on the spot. In COVID times, you don’t even have to worry about shaking hands. Understand that as much as you are SURE your dog is 1000x better than the dog that won, that owner loves their dog also. Don’t be a joy thief.

COVID Considerations

Mostly covered in Monday’s ep w/ Mr. Bill…

  • In and Out
  • Armbands
  • Spacing
  • Ribbons


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