Beginners Guide to Showing

This is a brief run down on dog showing containing some important points and information. Showing your dog can be very rewarding, fun, and a great day out for you, your dog and your family. The whole ordeal will give you a better understanding of your dog and the breed.

Attending your first dog show can be daunting, confusing, exciting and fun!

Arrive early so you can set up and have plenty of time to walk your dog and toilet them, groom them and settle down (you & the dog). For those arriving on the Saturday, there is a do it yourself hydrobath available to bath your dogs at Petbarn in Castle Hill. Please note: you must provide your own towels.

Things to take with you:

  • something to provide shade (a beach umbrella is ideal)

  • a water bowl for your dog, and some tasty treats.

  • your dog's collar, lead & grooming aids

  • if the weather is hot - consider a towel to wet and drape over your dog

  • something for your dog to lie on

  • if you have more than one dog and you're on your own, you'll need either a crate or tethers and stakes to restrain your other dogs, while you're in the ring. (Don't assume someone there will help, They probably will - just don't assume and be prepared)

  • appropriate clothing and footwear for yourself.

  • something for you to sit on

  • other things to make life more comfortable (sun block, insect repellent, hat etc.)

Preparing for the Show

Bath and groom your dog thoroughly. If possible bath him two days before the Show, so that his coat has a chance to regain its natural oils. When the coat is dry, groom thoroughly, from his head to his heels, and his tail. If you brush thoroughly prior to bathing, it will be easier afterwards. Collect all your gear together, brushes, collar lead water bowl, towel something for your dog to lay on (store it in a special bag, especially for Shows).

Day of the Show

Arrive at the advertised registration time to collect your Catalogue & Exhibit number. Check your entry in the catalogue. If any details about your dog (including the Class in which it is entered) are incorrect, inform the Show Secretary immediately. If your dog is entered in the wrong class and it's their error, they can correct it then and there. Don't be afraid to ask questions, you'll find most people will be only too willing to assist you. Take your dog for a walk to relieve himself, and clean up any mess he drops. Give your dog a final grooming and pin or clip your Exhibit number on the left side of your chest, or slip into a holder on your left upper arm. Keep an eye on the ring so you know when it is close to time to go to the ring for your judging.

 At the Ringside

Be at the ringside before the start of your Class, as you may be in very quickly. You never know how many dogs ahead of you will not turn up, or how fast the Judge will be in their judging. Look for the people wearing the numbers before yours, and be ready to move when they do. Watch the dogs being judged ahead of you, so that you will know the Judge's style of judging before you go into the ring. Watch what the Steward does with the dogs when she sends them into the ring, where they stand, where the Judge is placing them to be judged, where he is asking them to run, and where he sends them when he is finished examining them for the first time, etc. All the male dogs are judged before the bitches, and the younger dogs go in first. Make sure that you are in a position which enables you to hear the Assembly Steward call your number, and make sure that he knows that you are there. When he calls you, approach him, ready to go into the ring when he tells you. Try to see which dogs are first and last in your Class. If you are near the front of your class, you must be very alert, as the dogs in front may not arrive. If it is your first Show, tell the Assembly Steward or Ring Steward as you go in, and she will tell you exactly what to do. If there is a dog in front of you, basically you do what his handler does. Listen to what the Steward tells you, and then listen to what the judge tells you to do.

 In the Ring

Keep your dog on your left side at all times, and do not let your body get between the Judge and your dog. Usually, the dogs are run into the ring one behind the other. Run your dog at the pace instructed by the judge. - it is not meant to be a race - keeping at least six feet between your dog and the dogs in front and behind. You (or the handlers of the dogs up the front of the class) will be told by the Ring Steward where to stop, and sometimes you will be asked to go around twice. Gently pull up where requested, again keeping a good distance between dogs, and have your dog standing naturally or put your dog into a "Show Stance/Stack". The judge will usually then look down the line of dogs. Do what you can to make your dog look alert and bring his ears up, but always keep him under control. The judge will then examine every dog individually, often moving him away from the line of dogs to do so. You may relax your dog until your time approaches. The Judge usually starts by looking at the head and examining the teeth first, and working down the body to the rear. Hold your dog's head firmly between your hands while he examines his mouth. Continue to hold him firmly by his collar while the Judge is examining the rest of him, but try to let him have a good view of the dog at all times. The judge may ask you how old your dog is, so make sure you know your dogs’ age.

 Gaiting or Moving Your Dog

If you are asked to "Do a triangle" the Judge wants to see your dog (not you) running STRAIGHT away from him (rear view), then across (side view), then straight back to him (front view), pulling up gently (do not adjust your dog at this time) about six feet in front of the Judge. Line your dog, not yourself, up with the judge. Hold that natural stance until the Judge dismisses you. Usually he will say "Thank you" and may tell you to go to the end of the line, or "Take him around to the end" in which case he wants you to run your dog right around the ring to the end of the line (and he will watch you). If you are not sure what he said, or what he wants you to do, ask him again! Sometimes he may just turn away to the next dog, or wave his hand in a certain direction. Unless you are told anything different, run your dog gently around to the end of the line (don't cross immediately in front of the other dogs). Sometimes a judge will say something like "Straight out and back" or "Take him across" in which case he wants to see your dog running straight away from him, turning and running straight back, again pulling gently up into a natural stance about six feet from him. Remember that he is trying to see how your dog gaits (moves), and how balanced he is when he pulls up. If your dog breaks into a gallop he cannot assess him, and it is probably because you are running him too fast. It is very important for the Judge to be able to assess your dog's gait, so if necessary, take him back and start again. It is better to have a dog just loping along in a slow trot than galloping. Moving off slowly helps.


As the last dog steps up to be examined, you should start to get your dog in position for the Judge to have his last look, and make his decision. Make the best of your dog - stand him squarely, with his front legs and the hocks of his back legs parallel and try to make him look alert, but keep him under control and do not disturb the other competitors. Try to keep one eye on the Judge, and one eye on your dog, and another eye on the other exhibitors, at all times when you are in the ring. If he selects your dog, the judge will call you out and tell you your place. There are various ways of doing this - one judge will say "Thank you" and point to each dog in turn, another will just point, another will look at you and hold up one, two or three fingers, while others will be very specific and say "Thank you, Sir, I'll have your dog first".

 Leaving the Ring

If you have been chosen as 1st, 2nd or 3rd, gently praise your dog for being good, and move to a position in front of the appropriate marker, and wait until the Ring Steward writes down your number, and dismisses you. The judge may give you a ribbon, and shake your hand. Remember to keep a good control on your dog - it is too soon to relax yet. Try to remember to congratulate the other place getters. If you have not been chosen, praise your dog, and just move quietly out of the ring in your place behind the others when they go. Try to smile and be a good sport, no matter what, and don't get a swelled head if YOU won, because the roles may be reversed next time. You should also congratulate the winners, even if you don't agree with the Judge's decision.

Best Dog

If you have won your Class you will be required to go back into the ring again to compete for Best Dog or Bitch, so move into a position near the Assembly Steward, when this class is called and be ready when she calls you. If you have got second place, do the same, as you may be required also. The oldest dog leads into the ring with the youngest last. Again, do exactly as you are told by the Judge, who will probably do things differently, and faster, this time. After Best Dog (Challenge Winning Dog), is chosen, the second place winner in his Class enters the ring to compete for Reserve Dog. That is the end of the judging of the Males. All dogs should move away from the assembly area to give the bitches room, but the Best Dog, Reserve Dog, and all Class Winners should not go far as they will be required again. The bitches will then be judged in the same way, through to Best Bitch and Reserve Bitch.

Best of Breed

The Best Dog and Best Bitch then enter the ring, with the male leading, so the judge can select his Best of Breed (BOB), and Runner-Up to Best of Breed (RUBOB). If the dog is chosen as BOB, then the Reserve Dog enters the ring and competes with the Best Bitch for Runner-Up. If the bitch is BOB, the Reserve Bitch competes with the Best Dog for Runner-Up.