How to enter your canine in a sanctioned event.
Friends, family, even strangers go out of their way to compliment the good looks and even better behavior of your purebred dog. You receive the kind words so often that you wonder: Should you enter your beautiful pet in a sanctioned dog show for registered purebred dogs?
Then you wonder: Where do I even begin?
A good way to learn how to participate in a dog show is to first attend a show. The American Kennel Club (AKC) sponsors sanctioned dog shows across the country, many of which are hosted and run by local dog clubs and organizations.
You can find a show in your area by visiting the AKC website (www.akc.org/events/). The website lists the local club that is sponsoring the event and often provides a link to the club’s website, where you can find more details about the show. The AKC website also provides a search feature to help you find a dog club in your area.
In fact, joining a local dog club is a great way to learn more about competing in dog shows. Through a local dog club, you will meet other dog lovers, and your dog will likely make friends, too. Many clubs offer training classes for the various types of competitions, and will teach you how to properly handle your dog at the event that interests you most.
When you’re just starting out, consider entering a “match show,” a fun event that gives both people and dogs a chance to practice the skills needed for a range of exhibiting opportunities. Match shows allow you to participate in and practice handling for many of these types of shows:
- Conformation: When you picture a traditional dog show in your mind, you most likely see a “conformation” show, in which a dog’s overall appearance and structure is judged against the standard for his particular breed.
- Obedience: These trials showcase dogs who have been trained to behave well at home and in public.
- AKC Rally: A companion to Obedience trials, AKC Rally puts a dog and his owner through a fun exercise course.
- Agility: These events feature a timed course that contains obstacles such as jumps, tunnels and weave poles.
- Tracking: This canine sport lets a dog show off his natural ability to recognize and follow a scent.
- Field Events: Originally developed to test the abilities of hunting dogs, these events typically are held for certain breeds and judged in the areas of pointing, flushing and retrieving, or scenting and trailing.
- 4-6 Month Beginner Puppy: As the name implies, these events are meant to introduce new owners and their puppies to the dog show environment in a relaxed manner.
- Coursing Ability Test: These non-competitive events introduce dogs and their owners to lure coursing.
- Earthdog: Another non-competitive event, an Earthdog event trains and tests small terriers and Dachshunds in underground seeking and hunting behaviors.
- Herding: Non-competitive herding tests measure a dog’s ability to move and control livestock by fetching or driving.
- Lure Coursing: Eligible sighthound breeds can compete in lure coursing events that measure their speed, endurance and agility in chasing a mechanized lure.
- Title Recognition: Dogs can earn titles in programs that include Barn Hunt, Canine Good Citizen, Dock Diving, Flyball, Parent Club and Working Dog, Search and Rescue, and Therapy Dogs.
Stacy N. Hackett is an award-winning writer with more than 25 years’ experience in the pet industry. She is the former editor of Pet Product News and a former staff editor with Cat Fancy, Cats USA, Critters USA and Ferrets USA. To learn more about her work, visit stacynhackett.vpweb.com.