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How to Get Started in Showing Dogs

by Denise Vavla, UKC Dog Events Department

New to dog shows? Welcome! UKC Conformation events are a great experience for the new owner of a purebred dog, with an emphasis on amateur handling, friendly competition, and a family-oriented atmosphere. If you’re new to dog shows, you have a lot of fun to look forward to. Sometimes, though, just knowing where to start can be confusing. We hope this brief introduction will point you in the right direction!

All dogs, as well as owners, benefit from some sort of conformation and/or obedience training class. Those instructing these classes generally will provide you with the basic foundations for obedience and socialization. Be sure when you are looking for a place to take your dog that they offer the type of class that would suit your needs.

Many dog clubs that offer classes leave their information at the local veterinarian’s office or pet food/supply store, which is a good place to check when looking for a place to train your dog. Many clubs have websites; you may find training classes through a general web search. Your local UKC dog event clubs may offer classes, or may be able to recommend a club/trainer who does. Another source to find local training clubs would be your local newspapers or telephone directory.

Once you find a suitable club or training class/instructor, you will want to sign up and take your dog to class. The training will expose your dog to other dogs and a variety of situations you may come across in your daily travels with your dog. If you are signed up for conformation classes, the instructors can help show you how to stack and gait your dog for the show ring.

If you plan on participating in UKC events, you will want to get a rulebook for the type of activity that you will be entering so you can familiarize yourself with the specific aspects of that activity. You will also want to let your instructor know, so that they may help guide your training to the type of activity in which you will be participating.

Once your dog is trained, you can start looking for shows. However, before you can enter and show your dog in a UKC licensed event, your dog must be registered with UKC. Registration forms can be downloaded from our site; if you’re not sure which form you need, just give the UKC Registration office a call or email. They’ll be happy to help guide you through the process.

If your dog is eligible for single registration or is UKC litter registered, but you do not have enough time to apply for and receive the registration number back from UKC before an upcoming event, you can apply for a Temporary Listing Number (for a $20 fee, which does not apply to the cost of your permanent registration). You will have to get your dog permanently registered afterward, so that your dog’s wins can be recorded on your dog’s permanent record.

If you are interested in joining a club or training facility, check out our Dog Events Clubs page. You can see a listing of UKC clubs organized by state or event, along with a contact person for each club.

Before you start looking for UKC events, be sure to read our glossary to aid you in deciphering our event listing page. Here is the link to our upcoming events. From that page, you can look at all upcoming UKC Events sorted by either state or by month. Once you find an event of interest, just click on the date before the event and the event listing will open up.

Show entry deadlines depend upon the club. If it is published as Pre-Entry only, then entering on the day of the show (DOS) would not be accepted. Otherwise, the entry times will be published within the club’s Upcoming Event information that can be found in BLOODLINES as well as on our website. To enter, you may download an entry form.

Fill out the entry form with all of the required information. If you decide to pre-enter the event and save some money, you will want to send it to the Event Secretary listed for that club’s event. Make the check payable to the Club unless otherwise stated, before the advanced deadline date. If you do not make the pre-entry deadline date, you will need to pay the Day of Show entry fees and enter at the show during the entry times.

You will find UKC very casual in dress attire in the ring. Most men wear dress pants, dress shirt and jacket (sometimes with and sometimes without a tie). Women wear dress slacks and tops or skirts/dresses. Whatever you decide to wear, it should be clean and comfortable and allow you to exhibit the dog in a manner that neither attracts nor distracts attention to yourself.

UKC offers a Junior Program for young people that helps gear them towards the day when the younger generation will look up to them for guidance. By participating in the Junior Program, the children have an opportunity to learn all about dogs, training in Conformation, Obedience, Agility, Rally Obedience and many other activities. They also learn good sportsmanship and, most of all, have a life long sport they can participate in as adults. Those who wish to participate in the UKC Total Junior Program must apply for a Junior Membership number. There is no charge to become a Junior Member.

Good Luck and get showing!