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Showing Dogs. What to do at your first Show.

By Charles Hopkins Published 07/7/2007 | Pets and Animals

You have arrived safely at your first Show, found the correct car park, and have time to spare. Well done your day is off to a good start! It is a good idea now to get your dog straight out of the car, see if it wants a drink and then take it for a walk to relieve itself and to stretch those legs. Ensure you have the means to clear up any mess and dispose of it in an appropriate place.

Once this has been done collect your bag and do not forget the paper work for getting in (and out) of the Show and make your way into the event.

If it is a benched Show you should find the correct benching area for your breed. On your paper work you will have an entry number and there will be a bench allocated for you with your number on it. You will need one copy of this number to wear in the Ring to identify your dog. This can be fastened with a clip, rubber band or with a special number holder/clip that you have bought. Now is the time to let your dog experience the others of the breed around it. A few little sniffs are normally OK but do respect other owners and their dogs and ensure they are happy with the contact. As a 'newbie' you will find that other exhibitors are only to willing to offer help and advice, so do not be afraid to ask.

Depending on your breed, you may need to do a little or a great deal of final grooming so busy yourself with this, ensuring that you do not add anything to the coat that would remain in the Ring and infringe the Rules of the Club/Show/Association. Again experienced Exhibitors will help you with this. Use this first Show very much as a learning experience for you and the dog.

Do not leave your dog alone chained to the bench, this is all new and seeing you disappear may cause distress, it is really useful to have a friend/family member with you to cover for things like toilet and refreshment breaks.

Before your Class is called, try to find time to give your dog another walk around to calm the nerves of both of you. It is a good idea to purchase a catalogue for the day; this tells you the order of judging in the Ring and gives you some idea of when your class is to be judged. Finally make sure you are neat and tidy, fit your Showing lead and await your class. Normally the youngest, less experienced dogs are judged first.

When you enter the Ring, try to keep calm, your dog will sense any unease through the lead, and enjoy the moment with your dog. No one is really looking at you; all eyes are on the dogs. You will find most Judges to be helpful and considerate to you, especially if it is a Puppy Class where all the dogs are new to the Ring. Do not be afraid of asking the Judge to clarify exactly what is wanted of you; even explain that this is your first Show.

You will have seen what is expected at the previous Shows you visited and by watching the Ring on the day. You will stand in line with all the other dogs, the Judge will go over your dog and ask you to move it around the Ring and then it is back to the line and wait for each dog to be looked at. Finally, all the dogs will be lined up while the Judge makes a final look, your heart will be pumping now but try to keep yourself and the dog calm. Stand the dog in the correct way for your breed and hope that on the day you have caught the Judges eye. The Judge will then pick out the class winner and the other placed dogs. If you are placed you will stand in a line and be given a card and/or rosette. If you are unplaced you will now leave the Ring. If you are first or second then the Judge will probably want you to remain standing while the Judge makes notes about the two dogs, which will be published in the Dog Press.

If you win your class you will go back in the Ring at the end with all the unbeaten dogs to find the Best Puppy, Best Dog/Bitch and Best of Breed, so listen for the Ring Steward to call you for these 'challenges'.

Whatever the result, enjoy the day, talk to others, seek advice and make new friends this is the start of a new world...Dog Showing!