To properly show you must remember you are presenting your dog to be judged by its standard. Thus, you should wear proper attire. The better you look, the better your dog looks. Generally speaking jeans and T-shirts are out.

Make sure your dog is washed and groomed prior to the show and you have a choker and lead available. (Prong collars, wide leather collars are not acceptable) Make sure you are at the show site early and have registered for all shows you want. Your armband is placed on your left arm, and must be visible for ring stewards and judges, to view at all times.

When your breed is called, stay ready at ringside. When asked to enter, listen carefully and follow the stewards instructions as to where to stand and place your dog.

Stacking and Showing your dog

Depending on the breed standard, some things may vary, but generally there are many basic similarities.

To “stack”, square the front legs up straight under the shoulders, make sure the paws are as straight as possible neither turned inwards or outwards. Back legs are placed far enough back to achieve proper angulation of the stifles as required by your standard. Put the lead behind the dogs ears at the top of the neck, this will allow you better control of your dog.

The judge will give you instructions, follow them carefully but relax, as your dog will feel your stress through the lead. Remember this is supposed to be fun! Chewing gum will help to keep the smell of fear in your breath hidden from your dog. You should keep your dog on the left at all times. When the judge asks to see the bite, they would like to view the teeth, front first, then both sides. They will touch the dog and ensure proper muscle and bone development to the standard. When the judge moves on to the next dog try to keep your dog “stacked” as he/she may glance over to compare.

Movement Around the Ring

You will be sent in different patterns inside the ring, and the judge will tell you how they would like the dog to move (slower at a walk or faster at a trot). Some of things the judge can ask for you to do is “a triangle”, “a diagonal” or “all the way around” and they are really quite straight forward. For a triangle you will go straight up, than across and than back down to the judge on the diagonal, where you will stop when the judge tells you and you try to present your dog to the judge with as good of an appearance as possible. You may not have time to stack your dog at this time. The diagonal means you go down and back on the diagonal and again stop when the judge tells you to and present your dog to the judge as best you can. All the way around means just that you go all the way around the ring and stop when and where the judge tells you to.  The dogs will be placed according to the judges opinion and ribbons awarded.

Figure 1:
This movement is considered down and back.
Figure 2:
This movement is considered to the corner and back.
Figure 3:
This movement is considered a triangle.
Figure 4:
This movement is considered an ‘L’.
Figure 5:
This movement is considered a ‘T’.
Figure 6:
This movement is considered a circle.

Show Handling Tips

Conditioning Your Dog From Day One: The purpose of dogs was not meant to be pranced around a confirmation show ring, this is not to say it can not be done but you have to train the dog to feel comfortable with the routine. It also helps when you have a temperament that is more conducive to showing, (there are some great dogs that just do not show well).  You need to get your pup used to traveling, (start with short trips) and being in a crate, (never leave your dog unsupervised in a crate at a show). Handling your dog all over should be a part of your care and preparation so having a dog who is compostable with being touched all over as a judge will examine the whole dog, if it’s a male some judges unfortunately feel the need to feel the testicles to make sure there are two.

Showing The Dogs Bite: One important factor is showing the dogs bite, time & time again a good dog will loose due to a refusal of showing the bite and teeth. Start as soon as you get your pup every day go over the pup’s body, gently open the pup’s mouth in the front and say the word “teeth” when you open the mouth, then move from side to side opening the jowls top & bottom, never force the pup make these sessions as relaxed and positive as possible, after time they won’t care if there is trust.
At a show there are judges who will ask if they can touch the dog or open the dogs mouth, some exhibitors prefer to show the dogs bite themselves due to the limiting the spread of germs. However some judges could get offended if you prefer to do it yourself. As a new handler take the judges lead.

Breed Handling Class and Socialization: If your planning on showing your dog breed handling classes are critical. It is recommended that you get your pup into class as soon as you feel the puppy has had enough vaccines to protect them. You will also need to practice every day or every other day. Most dogs require socialization, the show dog requires even more, so get the dog out in public as much as possible.

Dress Code: It can not be expressed enough the importance of proper attire to exhibitors, yes your there to have your dog judged but the judge has to get passed you first before he gets to your dog. Next time your showing or at a show take note when the judge approaches you or the person showing is he or she looking at the dog or you first. Dressing properly is showing the judge respect. There are advantages and disadvantages to wearing the right cloths for showing. Here are some of the do’s & don’ts. Do’s: Wear solid colors that compliment your dogs color, example; grey dog, wear dark colors, black dog wear medium to light colors. The man who wears the shirt and tie will usually have the advantage, like it or not. It helps to wear a clean shoe or sneaker with good traction to prevent a spill. Don’ts: It is recommended that you not wear loud colors or clothing. It’s recommended that you not wear a piece of clothing that is to busy with a pattern it will detract the judges eye from your dog to you. Do not wear a linear horizontal print your giving the judge a gauge to go by. You should never wear jeans, tee shirts, sweat shirts, shorts, work boots, cloths that are stained or ripped.

Collars & Leads: You should only use a lead that is no longer then 36 inches. It is recommend for neck sizes 26″ and smaller the Hexagon collars, you will have more control and it looks better on the dogs neck, they are strong. Always use leads and collars with secure clasps or connections. Never use a prong collar. You should never use a leather collar.

One of the keys to success is to be prepared a head of time, if your not rushed you’ll be less nervous. Remember your arm is the telephone line to your emotion, your dog will pick up on what your feeling so try and relax and remember win or not you love your dog.

Now let’s run you through some basic’s on what to expect in the ring. Remember every judge has there own way of doing things. * Always be a polite exhibitor*

  • Always be standing close enough to the ring so that when your arm band number is called out you are ready to enter the ring. Tardiness is quietly frowned upon by the judge & other exhibitors it’s a sign of disrespect. Do not block the entrance of the ring allow exhibitors to enter and exit without any interference.
  • Always have a drool towel to keep your dogs mouth dry & clean. Judges do not appreciate your dogs drool all over their hands so wipe your dogs mouth when the judge wants to inspect the dogs bite.
  • You will enter the ring and be expected to stack (refer to terminology) your dog in a straight line. Always keep one eye on the judge and one eye on the dog so to speak Always pay attention to what the judge wants and what is going on around you in the ring.
  • Some judges might approach you to examine the dog or some might prefer for you to go around the ring once.
  • When the judge comes to examine your dog they usually will look at the dog, then ask you to show the bite.
  • There are basic movements in the ring, but learn all the movements that the judges might ask you to do (refer to Basic’s In The Ring). You will be asked to go around the ring, this means move your dog around the ring. If you are first in line and are asked to go around the ring in a circle, you should ask the person behind you “are you ready”, if so move out. If someone is ahead of you make sure you leave them and yourself enough room so that you don’t run them over, but never leave a big gap between you and the next person. If you are moving around the ring in a group and you find your dog is moving to slow move in a little for other exhibitors to pass you, if your moving fast try and slow your dog down or pass on the out side. If you can always pay attention to your dogs movement you will be asked to most likely to do a triangle (refer to Movement Around the Ring) and you could be asked to go down and back which means go away from the judge in a straight line turn around and come back.
  • After every one has gone around and finished their routine the judge has a good feel of who is going to place in which position. Pay attention your most likely standing with your dog stacked one last time for the last glance.
  • Now the judge is picking out the dogs for placement. No matter what happens good or bad it is good sportsmanship to congratulate the winners or be gracious if you win. Always thank the judge before leaving the ring.

Don’t Ever Get Discouraged! Remember One Day, One Show, One Judge & One Opinion!


  • Judge: The person who is judging the dog.
  • Steward: The person in the ring aiding the judge.
  • Exhibitor or Handler: The person handling the dog in the ring.
  • Professional Handler: A person who usually gets paid to show a dog.
  • Bait: Usually this is a treat, some times toys are used to get the dogs attention. Never throw your bait and then not pick it up off the floor.
  • Stacking The Dog: This is a standing position where the judge can fully examine your dog

*NOTE TO ALL DOG OWNERS: It is important to remember whether you’re in the show ring or walking around the show grounds with your dog to keep him or her on a short leash. Never allow direct eye contact or close body contact with another dog. Mishaps are occurring at shows due to a owners inexperience or it may be just a case of just plain irresponsibility. Injury to you and your dog can be avoided, just pay attention to your dog at all times!

Dogs Vic has a released a fantastic handbook for new exhibitors that covers all the above information – New Exhibitor Manual