to show your AHT
By Kady Harrington
Proud of your new American Hairless Terrier? Have you bought
your first show dog or think your current AHT has what it takes to be
a winner but don't know where to start? Here's a primer on how to get
to - and through - your first show. The ideal way is to work with your
breeder who can either help you first hand or recommend someone who can.
Failing that finding a local mentor who has experience showing AHTs would
be the thing. But if you're going it alone, these tips can help get you
started. This is not meant to be a detailed training manual, just a "get
started" information article. Check out "how to show" links
for more training info. Hint: this is geared towards UKC shows. Many of
the basics are the same for AKC shows; however the rules and entry procedures
Read and study the
American Hairless Terrier breed standard
. Now, read it again.
Then look at your dog and compare it to what you read. First start
by making sure your dog does not exhibit any disqualifying faults.
While these faults don't mean your dog can't be a great pet it does
mean it will result in him being disqualified from the show ring.
Now - make sure your dog does not exhibit serious faults according
to the standard. No dog is perfect but a serious fault will probably
prevent it from winning. Don't feel he measures up? Don't worry
- he's still a wonderful and loving pet, so enjoy him. If you still
want to delve into showing, contact a reputable breeder and let
them know what you want so they can help you find a show potential
This Rat Terrier is definitely a winner!
This lovely Collie meets his standard also.
This cute AHT girl isn't quiet a show dog, but she's a loved
pet for her family.
- OK - you feel sure that your dog is a fitting example of the breed
standard and can take the competition. Next, is s/he UKC (That's United
Kennel Club) registered? The AHT shows primarily in UKC events
(however you may see some at National Canine Association or American
Rare Breed Association shows also). If you purchased your pup from
a reputable breeder you should have access to UKC registration. This
registration certifies your dog's purebred status (it does NOT guarantee
quality or show worthiness though!) And you'll need that registration
number to enter shows and earn titles. Not registerable? That's OK
- love (and neuter!) your naked kid and talk to reputable breeders
about acquiring a show potential puppy.
The registration and Easy
Entry card you will receive when your pup is UKC registered
Keep your vet and other records organized. You may need something
in a hurry and don't want to have to dig for it!
- Next - Is your dog temperamentally suited to show? They don't all
have to be whizz-bang showoffs, but they DO need to be stable, friendly
and accepting of strangers. The judge - a strange person in a strange
place - must be able to check teeth, physical condition, etc. by touching.
In addition you will be in a place with many other people and dogs
where your dog must be able to behave appropriately.
- Your dog is properly registered and a good example of the breed.
Now what? Well, you're excited and dying to know when a show is coming.
So check out the UKC
Events page for upcoming shows. They are organized by date and
by state. Most UKC shows allow you to enter the day of the show, so
be absolutely sure to note the entry times so you don't miss it! Or
you can download an entry form from the UKC website, fill it out and
send it along with the posted entry fee to the Show Secretary listed
for the show you want to go to. Make sure you give yourself some time
before your first show to get ready!
- Now - you need to begin some training for you AND Fido! Try looking
for a local dog "handling" class or puppy class...this will
be the best way to learn first hand how to do the show routine. Otherwise...first
s/he needs to be leash trained and able to trot next to your left
side in a straight line. And s/he has to do this without lunging,
dragging, fighting, jumping about or misbehaving. It sounds simple
but it does take practice. First get a good show lead appropriate
to your breed - usually a slip or "choke" collar or maybe
a martingale or terrier lead. Any pet supply catalog such as www.petedge.com
will have a selection of "show leads". Don't use your flashy
buckle collar with jingly tags! And don't be afraid to ask other AHT
exhibitor or owners what they use. It might help if you practice without
your dog first - draw a straight line and practice walking and trotting
on it neatly without looking down at the floor. If you can put a full
length mirror at the end that will help to. You don't want to be the
one weaving like you just got off a roller coaster! Now - work with
your dog until you can work as a team. Practice in a straight line
& going around in circles (to your left, or counterclockwise).
Don't encourage him to look up at you! This will throw off his movement
from the judge's perspective. Use lots of praise and positive reinforcement
and make it fun - you don't want to have a sad, reluctant dog in the
- Congratulations! You can walk! Sounds silly but by now you have
probably seen the difference in Fido dragging you down the street
or sniffing every hydrant and the walking required in the show ring!
The next thing you need to learn is to "stack". This means
setting your dog up in a standing position for the judge to be able
to see, touch and evaluate. Your dog will need to learn to allow you
to do this. First, on a secure surface, place your dog in a standing
position. Make sure you are on your dog's right side. Move the collar
high up his neck behind his ears and make sure it's snug (don't choke
him though). Firmly and gently run your hand over his shoulder and
down to his outside or left front elbow and move the leg to the proper
position (from the standard and reviewing photos or at shows you should
have an idea of how a stacked dog is positioned in your breed). Now
do the same to the inside or right front leg. Run your hand down his
back and to his outside (left) rear hock and position that leg and
again the same with the right rear leg. If needed hold his tail in
the proper position. Hmmm...this wasn't as easy as it sounded was
it? OK - catch your wiggly giggly puppy and start again. Be patient,
firm and gentle. Hint - don't move his legs by grabbing his feet.
Move them by placing your hand higher on his elbow or hock. Praise
each time he does something right and continue to provide positive
reinforcement for standing still and letting you do all this. DON'T
expect your dog to learn this all the first time! Use short training
sessions (with our young puppies we often only spend 5 minutes or
less each day on this) and persevere. When he all comes together and
one day you find your dog in the right position and you in the right
position all at once you'll feel great! Once he is comfortable with
this try practicing on a grooming table (an AHT is stacked on such
a table for the judge to examine), on the floor etc. A makeshift table
can be made by using something like a non slippery towel on a coffee
This AHT puppy is learning to stack on a table.
This young AHT puppy is stacking on a table for the first
time. His owner is making it fun and interesting for him.
This Rat Terrier puppy is more interested in playing than
showing. Use patience and praise to convince him its fun.
- Aha! Now you can both trot around gracefully and stack like you
were meant for the show ring. But there's some more. You need to arrange
to have friends, family, etc. touch your dog. While s/he is stacked
your friend needs to gently lift the lips and check the 'bite' (how
the teeth meet), run their hands down the shoulders, back, ribs and
rear. Make sure different people do this (not all at the same time
of course). Men, women - small, large. Try having them wear hats,
perfume, ties, large jewelry...anything you can think of that might
startle your dog. Now is the time to let him get used to it and be
able to praise his acceptance of odd things.
Make sure you introduce all
kinds of different things. You don't want THIS to be your
puppy's reaction in the show ring!
Teach your dog to 'grin and
bear it', or at least let you lift the lips and inspect the
Some dogs get used to anything! This Chinese Crested is taking
part in a film shoot. He is also a champion show dog.
- Ok, you're practicing, you're feeling pretty good about the upcoming
show. While you wait you need to familiarize yourself with the RULES.
Yep, every game has them and dog shows are no different. The
UKC Rules can be found online at their site. READ them. ASK questions
on their forum if you don't understand. The rules spell out not only
the do's and don'ts but also tell you exactly how to figure out which
class you must enter (for instance puppy, senior, adult, etc.) and
how points are won. While you probably can't memorize them, at least
be familiar with them. You might want to order a copy of the rulebook
in print to refer to if you have a question.
The UKC rule book is available online and in print.
This AHT dog is ready for her show time! You want to be sure
she's entered in the right class!
This cute AHT puppy has a ways to go before she's old enough
to show, but she certainly is ready for her close-up!
- They show day is arriving. You have the training down, the rules
don't seem so alien. Right before the show you'll want to groom your
dog. Fortunately in the AHT this is pretty simple. For the hairless
make sure their skin is clean, soft and healthy looking. Trim nails
(You should be doing this regularly anyway) and clean ears out. Voila!
One groomed dog! On the coated it's not much harder. A good bath and
brushing with a short bristle brush or a chamois cloth to shine the
coat, a nail trim and ear clean and you're done. Be sure your dog's
teeth are clean, he is parasite free (no fleas or ticks) and smells
clean as well.
First a bath....
Clean the ears out...
And finally a nail trim.
- Day of show! You'll want to pack everything the night before (and
you might want to make a checklist to be sure you don't forget anything!).
You'll need your show leash and collar, probably will want a crate
and bed for a nice, safe place for your dog to relax when not showing,
take some water from home and a bowl, some plastic bags to clean up
any doggy messes, a chair for you. Don't forget your dog's registration
info! UKC registration comes with an "Easy Entry" card you
can carry to the show that has all the pertinent information you will
need. You might want to carry proof of vaccines and rabies, especially
if going to another state. Check the show information - these might
be required. I'm a "better to have it and not need it" person
which means I take everything but the kitchen sink - my husband would
be content taking the dog and the leash. Make sure you have what you
will need and anything that will make it more comfortable for you.
Dress comfortably but nicely. Some people wear 'business casual' while
others wear jeans. Whatever works best for you, just make sure it
is clean and neat. Where safe comfortable footwear too - you'll be
running and moving and you don't want to slip or have aching feet.
Make sure you have good directions to the show site and leave with
plenty of time to make it without stressing yourself. Tell your dog
how great he his, tell yourself how much fun you'll have, make sure
everything's in the car and off you go!
An outfit like this - casual but nice and comfortable - is
perfect for the show ring.
This owner has several dogs. You can see her grooming and crating
supplies and other items.
A tote box with a handle makes a great container for all your
- Now you've arrived at the show. Good grief - look how busy it is!
How will you know where to go??? It's not all that bad. If you chose
a small multi breed show there are probably just one or two rings.
If you chose a large all breed show it may be busy. But the chaos
will sort itself out and UKC exhibitors are usually quiet friendly
and helpful. First let your dog have a quick break to potty (and be
sure to clean up after him!), especially if it's been a long ride.
Find a safe place for him to rest in his crate if possible (don't
leave him locked in the car, especially on a warm day!!). Now look
around - or ask someone nearby - and find the sign in table. This
is where you will enter your dog in the show. Make sure you carry
your Easy Entry card and the entry fee money! Don't be afraid to ask
for help in filling it out - the people taking entries should be glad
to help. Double check and make sure your dog is in the right age class,
all the needed info is filled in fully and your entry is signed. You
should receive an armband with your number. Don't lose it! This will
go around your upper left arm to identify you to the judge (s/he cannot
see your name or dog's name - only a number). Check or ask for a rubber
band to hold it on your arm. Now - you are safely entered. The show
starts in a little bit. Ask which ring your breed will be in or check
the signs posted next to the rings for a list. Now you know where
to go. Go back to your dog, have a sit down and relax a little. Do
any last minute prettying up (to you or your dog!) and make sure you
spend a few minutes letting your dog enjoy everything, giving him
encouragement and making this a happy experience. Remember - this
is all strange to him to and he's relying on you to let him know its
all OK and fun!
An exhibitor entering and getting her armband.
A chair, a bottle of water and a chance for dog & owner
to relax before entering the ring.
This AHT practices outside the ring.
- Time for the show to start. If you looked at the posted list of
breeds in your ring you will see how many are ahead of you. If there
isn't any, or just one or two you might want to get ready. If there
are several breeds, let your dog relax and take the opportunity to
watch the judging and see first hand how a show happens. Is all your
training starting to make a little sense? OK, your breed is coming
up! Don't be inattentive and miss your class (it can happen). Get
Fido out and let him stretch, potty and get himself together. Give
him a few minutes of encouragement or practice. Now - get near the
ring gate so you can hear the steward (that's the 2nd person in the
ring at the table that's calling each class to come in), just be sure
not to block the ring entrance! Don't be afraid to let the steward
know this if your first show. Most will be happy to try and help you
get to the right spot at the right time. But don't be lollygagging
around and not paying attention! You breed is up! Males will be judged
first, classes in order from puppy to adult. There might not be entries
in every class so don't assume you have a long time to wait. Females
will be judged second. Listen to the steward - s/he will call each
class and each number in the class. When you hear your number go in
An exhibitor has entered the ring and has stacked her AHT while
waiting for the judge.
The judge sends an exhibitor around the ring to gait her Beagle.
The exhibitor is moving counter clockwise with the judge in
This handler is keeping her AHT's head still while the judge
exams the dog.
- Oh boy! Now you're here and everything is moving so fast! Take a
deep breath, calm down and go for it. OK - go to the spot the steward
indicated along the side of the ring (if you're not sure, ask!). Stack
your dog on the floor. The judge is probably out in the middle of
the ring taking a first look over the entrants. At his signal you
will then gait (trot) your dog around the edge of the ring counterclockwise.
Don't run up on the exhibitor in front of you! When you get back around
the ring the first person in line will put their dog on the table
for examination (if that's you be sure to do it!). Make sure the dog
is between you and the judge, stack him like you did in practice and
wait. The judge will take a look, then approach. He will ask you to
show your dogs bite (his teeth), then will go over your dog. Make
sure you have control of your dog's head. If you practiced at home
he should be used to this. When the judge is done he will probably
tell you "down and back" (or another pattern he will explain).
Take your dog off the table, and trot him down the diagonal mat away
from the judge and then back. Stop a few feet away from the judge
and let your dog stand naturally - the judge is looking to see what
he looks like on his own. At the judge's signal trot your dog again
around the edge of the ring to the end of the line. Whew! That wasn't
so bad was it? When all the dogs are examined they will probably all
gait around the ring together again. The judge may rearrange you in
line before this so be paying attention. Going around the last time
listen to the judge and keep an eye on him - this is when he will
point to his 1st through 4th place winners. He didn't point to you?
That's ok - leave the ring politely and try again next time. Did he
point at you? Congratulations! You got a placement! Go to the side
of the ring next to the stewards table (there are probably some numbered
signs) and stand in order (if you won 1st you will be first in line).
Make sure the judge can see your armband so he can write it in his
book. Now he'll hand you a ribbon - thank him and you can leave the
ring. ALWAYS be polite - thank the judge, congratulate your competitors
and be gracious whether you win or lose. Even if you think you should
have done better always smile and congratulate the winners. Remember,
knowing how to lose graciously is the key to good sportsmanship.
An exhibitor gaits her Rat Terrier
The judge goes over this Golden Retriever while the exhibitor
keeps control of the dog's head.
This judge takes a few moments to help a new exhibitor. Most
judges are really quiet friendly. If you are polite they are
happy to help.
- But wait! Did you win 1st or 2nd place? Don't go away! All the first
place winners will go back in the ring (this is called Winners class).
When your number is called again you'll go back in the ring and do
it all over, though it might go quicker since the judge has seen all
the dogs once already. This time he will choose his "Winners"
male or female. Once the Winner is chosen he leaves the ring and the
dog that placed 2nd to him in the classes comes into the ring to compete
for Reserve Winners. Confused? It gets easier as you do it. Stay near
the ringside and don't be afraid to ask someone more experienced to
help you follow everything. If you won Winners you'll need to stick
around. Otherwise you can let your dog have a drink of water and go
back to his crate to rest. You might want to come back and watch the
- Now they will judge the Champions class, then the Grand Champions
class. Once the winners of those are chosen, the Best Male, Best Female,
best Champion and best Grand Champion will come back into the ring
and compete for Best of Breed. One of the two winners (of Best Male/Female)
will also be chosen as Best of Winners. Once Best of Breed is chosen,
judging is over for that breed until later. Later in the day the Best
of Breed winners will compete for Best in Group and Best in Show.
This AHT puppy has won a rosette for best puppy!! All the training
has paid off!
A Judge considers her Best in Show lineup. Everyone is working
hard to make their dog look best, waiting and hoping for that
signal that they won! That's the author in the middle of the
line with her Chinese Crested - he went on to win Reserve Best
in Multi Breed Show.
This is one happy owner!
- Well, your first show is over. It was probably a whirlwind but you're
excited and ready for your next one to start! If you're lucky you
have a ribbon or even a rosette to take home and show off, and maybe
a few championship points as well. Make sure your dog is comfortable
and pack up your stuff. Make absolutely sure to clean up any trash
you have and any mess your dog might have made. Then head home to
think about your first time. And when you get home take what you learned,
practice some more and ask questions. You might have met some people
at the show willing to help - stay in touch with them. You might have
made some new friends! And good luck at your next show!
This tired Chinese Crested puppy enjoys relaxing at home after
a day at the shows.
Another pooped puppy. It's hard work winning those rosettes!
- A special note about kids. UKC welcomes kids in the Junior Showman
class. This can be a fun hobby for a child and his or her pet, as
well as making the show weekend a family event. Even young children
can participate in the Peewee classes with a parent's help! Many of
today's top breeders or handlers started out in the Juniors ring.
Not every show offers a Juniors class, so be sure to check the show
A young showman proudly takes his dog around the ring with Mom's
Sometimes the dog is almost as big as his handler! But this
child seems to have it well in hand.
me back to the top!
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©2003 This article is reproduced here with the express permission of the