Welcome (Back) to the Dog Show!

Jessica Freni

Photo of signage appearing at the setup of Professional Handler Kerry Boyd, used with permission

The world is returning to normal (or at least “new normal”), but in addition to being out of practice wearing suits rather than yoga pants, we seem to be rusty on dog show etiquette. A nice take away from the pandemic show scene are the in/out ring gates, less attractive is how we seem to have a hard time transitioning into real world social interactions.

Some do’s and don’ts back at the dog shows:

  • DO try to notify your fellow exhibitors if you’ll be absent. No reason is necessary, but if it will change point(s) a social media post is a small, appreciated gesture, particularly if you have a breed- centric show group.
  • DO be mindful of crowding the rings/ gate area and lingering, especially if the show committee is still requesting a “show and go” atmosphere
  • DO be kind and courteous. Thumper rule applies, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” Cameras are everywhere. Be aware of rules about live streaming and it’s a general courtesy to let your fellow exhibitors know if you are live on social media/ video recording.
  • DO respect a judge’s choice regarding masks in the ring, regardless of vaccination status. Having a mask still handy in your tack box or grooming bag is a good idea!
  • DON’T take pictures over the photographer’s shoulder. DON’T steal, crop, remove watermarks or otherwise share photography (win pics or candids) without permission first.
  • DON’T “friend” judges inappropriately- i.e. immediately before showing to them, tagging in pictures without asking, send them unsolicited pictures of your dog especially before assignments. Good rule is if you wouldn’t do it ringside in front of your peers, don’t do it behind the computer.

AKC is seemingly aware of the evolving complexities of dog shows in the age of instant social media and is at AKC speed, trying to adapt. New rules are in effect that all exhibitors should be aware of and take into consideration. These new rules include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Language providing clear direction that judges should not attend private functions with exhibitors who have exhibited or may exhibit to them on the same weekend, circuit or cluster.
  • Language to make clear judges should not promote or denigrate dogs they have or may judge, including commenting and/or posting photos of dogs judged in social media forums.
  • Addition of language concerning the requirement for breeds to be called into the ring in the order published, consistent with direction provided to all judges in a 2015 memorandum.
  • Addition of language to make clear the use of a second handler may impact eligibility in special attractions such as NOHS in addition to classes such as Bred by Exhibitor and Amateur-Owner Handler classes.
  • Revision of wording pertaining to the allowance of late arrivals for enhanced clarity.
  • Revision of the section pertaining to “Large Entries and Small Rings” to clarify administration of exhibitor protests.
  • Revision of the section pertaining to “Individual Examination of Dogs” to include the addition of reference to the new Chapter 14 Section 6A of the Rules Applying to Dog Shows which addresses conditions of class other than height, weight, color or markings.
  • Revised section pertaining to “Use of Ramps”, generalizing the language by removing the list of ramp mandatory breeds and inserting the URL address of the “Table-Ramp list” on the AKC website.
  • Revised guidance concerning “Double Entries” to provide greater clarity to the proper procedures associated with the managing of dogs entered in multiple classes and their eligibility to compete in subsequent classes.
  • Revised the section “Marking the Judge’s Book” by reorganizing a paragraph for enhanced understanding and the addition of special attraction winners as those which the armband number of the entry awarded is to be marked in the judge’s book.
  • Inserted awards for special attraction into the list of items to be double-checked before turning in judge’s book.
  • Modified language in section “Excusals and Disqualifications” to reflect applicable Chapters and Sections of the Rules associated with the judge’s authority concerning disqualifying or excusing entries.
  • Modified language for clarity in section “Verbal Protests” and inserts reference to new Chapter 14 Section 6A of the Rules as conditions protestable by competing exhibitors in a class.

( “Revisions to the Rules, Policies and Guidelines for Conformation Dog Show Judges, by Judging Operations”)

Judges have been made aware of these changes available for review in the rulebook.

One more dog show show DO…

DO SMILE , be kind, help when possible and HAVE FUN with your dog!