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How To Prepare For Your First Dog Show

You have purchased a purpose-bred and reliable purebred dog and plan to show it. Welcome to our community, we are glad you are here!

Remember the only difference between a show dog and a pet dog is show dogs have a job on the weekends, running in circles. So don’t be afraid to let your show dog run and play and act like any other dog you have owned before. 


ed and pancho at dog show

Attend A Handling Class

Find a local handling class to attend while your dog is young and still learning.  Usually these classes are taught by an experienced dog breeder or professional dog handler. They will work with you on how to stack your dog, gait your dog and any other basics that you will need to know before your first show.

Sign Up For Your First Show

So you have been attending your handling class and you're ready to enter your first dog show. There are several different websites that will list dog shows in your area. You can use or the site I often use is - go to the events page, use the drop down bar to find your breed and on the right hand side of your page you will see an area to add your State. 

You’ve now found a show you want to attend. Now you have to enter your dog. If you use the canine chronicle page to find your show it will also show you the superintendent. Click on their name and this will take you to their web site. This is where you will enter your dog in the show. Keep in mind most dog shows close their entries 2.5 weeks prior to the dog show. 

You will choose between the following classes 6-9, 9-12, 12-18, American Bred and Open age class. At this point it would be helpful to have a copy of your dog's AKC registration certificate because you will have to input all of their information to finalize your entry. Since this is your first show and your puppy's first show, just pick the age appropriate class. Once your entry is finished you will receive an email back from the superintendent saying your entry has been processed. 

Usually within a week of the show, you will receive a judging program in the mail. Find your breed and it will tell you the total entered in your breed, the ring you will be showing in and the time you show. The entry break down will look something like this 2-2-3-0. What this means is 2 class dogs, 2 class females, 3 Champion males will be competing. For this case let’s say you have a class puppy male. 


The big questions I get often is what do I wear to show my dog in? Guys, we wear suits with a tie. Ladies, business casual is just fine. Just make sure you are comfortable and can move around in your attire.

In The Ring

Plan to arrive at least an hour before your scheduled ring time. I always recommend bringing your crate and finding a quiet spot to sit near your crate and just watch. You will be competing against the other class male. If you win your class that you entered in you will receive a blue ribbon. Don’t move far away from the ring, because you will have to go back in for winners class. If you are lucky enough to make it through winners class you will compete against the Champions for best of breed. 

samoyed puppy at dog show PC: @sterling.the.ak.sammy

You have made it through your first dog show. Hopefully you have made some friends along the way. I hope to see you down the road!!

- Written by Ed T.