If you've ever thought about taking Fido into the dog show ring, this step-by-step tutorial in ring procedures will put you on the fast track to winning. Learn how to follow the judge's instructions and see what it takes to get to Best in Show.
The Dog Show Bug
Have you been bitten by the dog show bug? Maybe you've seen the Westminster Dog Show on television. Perhaps you even attended a dog show in your home town? No matter what called your attention to this sport, one thing is certain; showing dogs is addictive.
There's nothing quite like the thrill you feel when you walk into the ring and take your place amongst the other handlers and their dogs. That excitement literally travels down the lead to your dog as the two of you become a team.
Does this sound like your idea of fun? Then read on to learn how to show dogs in the ring. We'll teach you the basics you need to know to get you started. After that, the rest is up to you!
How to Show Dogs in the Ring
Let's break down ring procedure step by step.
Step One: Line Up
You've picked up your arm band from the ring steward and your class has just been called.
The first thing you'll do is walk into the ring with the other exhibitors and line up in a row along one side of the ring. Where should you stand? Sometimes a judge will require everyone to line up in catalog order, according to their arm band number. Other times you're left to sort it out for yourself.
In most cases, it's best to start out somewhere in the middle. This gives you time to primp and pose your dog while others are examined individually ahead of you as well as time to make sure your dog is looking perfect again before the last dog is judged.
Once the ring steward has marked the numbers present, the judge will ask everyone to take their dog around. You will move counterclockwise with your dog on your left side at a pace that shows off your dog's movement to the best advantage. Everyone will make a complete circuit around the ring and stop where they began.
Step Two: Individual Examination
The judge will conduct an individual examination of each dog, starting at the head of the line. When it's your turn, you will pose or "stack" your dog so it is standing correctly. You'll do this on the floor for a large dog, or on a grooming table provided for smaller breeds. The judge will thoroughly go over your dog with her hands to feel the bone structure/conformation and coat texture, comparing it to the breed standard. Your dog's mouth will be opened and the teeth will be inspected.
Next, the judge will ask you to move your dog in one or more ways.
These might include:
- Down and back: You'll walk your dog away from and back to the judge to show how well the front and back legs move.
- Make an L: Here, you'll move your dog down the runner away from the judge, turn left at the corner and proceed to the next corner in order to give the judge a side view of your dog's movement. At that corner, switch your dog to your right side so it's between you and the judge, then walk it back in the same manner to where you began. Stack your dog in place on the floor.
- Make a triangle: This involves making an L, except rather than retracing your steps back to the judge, you'll return to the judge down the center diagonal runner.
Once you complete whichever pattern the judge asks for, you'll be asked to move your dog around the ring and back to your place.
Step Three: Placements
Once every dog has been examined, the judge will usually begin to line up her favorites near the head of the line. She will pull several dogs out and show the handlers where she wants them to stand. If you have a good specimen and your dog is showing well, you might be lucky enough to move into one of the first four spots. Typically, the judge will ask everyone to move their dogs around the ring together one more time, and then she'll point to her choices, assigning them one, two, three or four. If you are chosen, move to the corresponding sign near the steward's table, show your arm band for recording purposes and accept your ribbon from the judge.
These basic procedures are repeated for every class you participate in.
Competing for Winners
If your dog took first place in your class, you'll compete again in a few minutes for the Winners class. If you win the Winners class, your dog will return to the ring in a few moments for Best of Breed competition.
If you took second place, hang around. If the dog that took first place in your class happens to take Winners class, you'll be asked to return to the ring, where your dog will be compared to the others in consideration for Reserve Winners. This is an important ribbon because if the Winner's Dog is later disqualified for any reason, your dog will be awarded the points toward its championship.
Best of Breed
If your dog took the Winners class in its sex, it will go on to compete for Best of Breed along with the winner from the opposite sex's class, as well as any Champions of record that are entered to compete. If your dog is judged to be the best, you'll be awarded the coveted BOB ribbon.
From there, you'll move on to Group competition, and should your dog take first place there, it's on to Best in Show!
Like anything, practice makes perfect. Watch the pros for hints on how to make your dog look good in the ring.