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I WANT TO GO TO A DOG SHOW!
THE USER'S GUIDE TO DOG SHOWS
"HI my name is Joshua and I need some info on how to get my dogs in
The first thing you need if you would like to show your dog, whether in Obedience, Conformation, Hunting, Agility, Herding, or any of the many other American Kennel Club events, is an AKC registered dog. If you gave the subject proper thought when you bought your puppy, you will have purchased him from a reputable breeder, and your puppy will have come with AKC registration papers. Hopefully he will have grown up to be the quality of dog you and the breeder anticipated that he would. Or, you may have purchased your puppy from a Pet store or through a newspaper ad from a back yard breeder. He may have been sold as an "AKC dog" or an AKC registered dog, and you may not have received the registration papers with the puppy. The puppies in pet stores often come from puppy mills, which do not (ever!) breed show quality dogs. If you have not obtained the registration papers for the dog, by the time you decide you'd like to show him in obedience or agility (which he can do even though he may not be quite up to snuff for conformation) you may find the pet store has gone out of business. Or, perhaps the pet store can't locate or get the papers from the 'breeder'. So first of all, whether you get a puppy from a serious breeder, a back yard breeder, a breed rescue organization, or a pet store, if you would like to be able to do something 'official' with him later, make sure you get the papers. (see What Is A Breeder )
Wonderful Show Quality Puppies Come From Serious Breeders
If you have purchased your puppy from a pet store or a backyard breeder, and for whatever reason didn't get registration papers, if the dog appears to be a purebred representative of an AKC registerable breed you may be able to show your dog in performance events anyway. The AKC grants an "Indefinite Listing Privilege" to such dogs, which must first be 6 months old and neutered. This ILP number will allow you to show your dog in AKC obedience, hunting, herding, agility and earth dog events. You may not show an ILP dog in conformation ('breed') classes.
If your dog is a mixed breed, you may find local fun matches that are put on by a dog training facility or group. It is in the best interests of all dogs and dog owners to teach them to do anything of which they are capable. It is not, however, the business of the American Kennel Club to sanction such events for mixed breeds, since the AKC's main responsiblity is the maintenance of the Stud Book, and the promotion of purebred dogs.
If you do have a good quality puppy and would like to be able to show in conformation classes later on, DON'T NEUTER the dog. If you would like to show and breed the dog, you should deal with a serious, reputable breeder and contract for a show and breeding quality puppy. This puppy must be on a full registration, if you hope to be able to breed later on, not on a limited registration. Breeders are likely to be very particular about which puppies they sell on full registration, and which people they will sell these individuals to. This is a good thing; only the best animals should be bred, and only owners serious about learning about the breed, about genetics and soundness, about training, and about the effort involved should take on the responsibility of breeding dogs. YOU DON'T BREED PUPPIES TO GET RICH. More often, you go well into a financial hole breeding dogs.
If you don't wish to breed the dog, a dog on a limited registration and/or a neutered dog will still be permitted to compete in performance events. Bitches that aren't going to be bred should be spayed, generally before 6 months of age. If a bitch puppy is spayed before her first heat, her chances of developing mammary tumors, the most common cancer in dogs, will be substantially reduced.
Do The Dogs Enjoy Themselves?
If you hope to show your puppy in conformation classes, DON'T TEACH IT TO SIT! You can ask him to stand, to wait, to 'hold on' or to 'settle down!', but hold off on teaching to sit. Sitting is submissive behavior and some puppies will do this in unfamiliar circumstances even if they haven't been taught to do it. If he is used to praise for sitting, he is likely to do it in any unfamiliar situation, and it can be very difficult to train this behavior out of him for the purpose of the breed ring.
Whether you hope to show your puppy in conformation, obedience, or agility, it is helpful to socialize him to being with strange people and dogs. Once his puppy shots are complete - about 4 months of age, you can find him a puppy kindergarten class, puppy obedience class, or conformation handling class. Your local kennel club or obedience club will often hold these classes. If they don't, they should be a good source of information about who in the area does give classes. Check on the AKC web site for the names of member clubs, and their contact person, to find one near you.
After you have found your local kennel club, and have trained your dog, you need to find out when and where the dog shows are and how to enter. Look on the AKC pages, and you will find sections for different kinds of events - conformation, obedience, etc. - and for different months of the year. Start at least a month or more away, as closing dates for taking entries for shows are usually 3 weeks before the show date. When you see some shows you are interested in, check on who the Show Superintendent is. Usually most shows in a given geographical area will be put on by the same superintendent organization. Examples of Superintendents are listed below. Write or call the specific show superintendent and ask for a Premium List for the show you wish to enter. Ask also to be put on their mailing list to receive premium lists of future shows in the area this superintendent covers. When the premium list arrives you will find it to contain information about where the show is to be held, the judges who will be judging each breed or other event (obedience, agility), the officers of the club and the show chairman, closing date (deadline for receipt of completed entries), entry fee (usually 18 to 20 dollars), and the instructions for filling in the form. You will usually find that the superintendent will accept faxed entries accompanied by a credit card authorization. Instructions will be included for faxing your entry.
The AKC home page and the Moss Bow page both include results of some levels of competition for recently completed shows. It takes a couple of days for these to be posted to the net. By examining these it may be possible for you to determine whether or not there are enough 'class' dogs being shown in your area to make 'points'. Beware of looking at only one or two weekends, there may be a larger or a smaller entry depending on how well the exhibitors in your area like certain judges!
The week before the show, you will receive a 'judging program' in the mail. This will give directions to the show, any parking information (paid parking for instance), your ring number, judge's name, and approximate time of showing. A time will be given with several breeds below it (for conformation). This means that the breeds will start at the given time or later if the ring is running slow, but not before that time. You can judge roughly how long after that time you might appear by adding up the number of entries in the breeds listed before your own at that time, and multiplying by 3 minutes a dog. But remember! This is just an approximation. Much better to get there on time and wait rather than to miss your show time after driving 3 hours. You never know if all the dogs entered show up; in the case of bad weather often a large number of the dogs entered don't make it to the show.
Finally prepare your dog; train him, bathe and groom him, find the appropriate lead (show or obedience, not 'street' collar and leash), load your car with 'crate' (cage), water, 'bait' (food), grooming tools, grooming table, folding chair, and soda pop, and go to your first dog show. Allow plenty of time for grooming, setting up your gear, and going to the john. Allow more time for getting lost or driving around trying to figure out the directions to the show.
When you get there, drive around the building or outdoor show site and look at the lay of the land; see where the rings are situated, find the doors to the building that the exhibitors are using, the loading areas, and so on. Once you find the appropriate place, unload, set up, and you're on your own. GOOD LUCK!
Annually Licensed Superintendents
Show By Show Superintendents
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