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Dog Show Etiquette

At the Detroit Kennel Club benched dog shows, you will have a unique opportunity to not only meet breeders, but to meet their dogs. To make sure that your time spent with 2000 dogs is safe as well as enjoyable, here are a few things you should know in order to avoid any misunderstandings between you, your children, breeders, handlers and of course, the dogs.

Always ask a dog's owner if you may pet the dog.
Not all dogs respond in the same manner toward all people. The owner will tell you how you should approach a particular dog.

Never pet a dog while it is being groomed.
Many show dogs spend many hours on the grooming table in preparation for being shown. Petting a dog that is in the process of being groomed may inadvertently spoil the dog's coat for the ring, necessitating the groomer to repeat the preparation.

Do not approach dogs in exercise pens.
At a benched show, dogs must "do their business" indoors, using exercise pens and dog runs. Talking to a dog in a pen diverts him from what he was put in there to do.

Always approach a dog from the front or the side.
Hold your hands low and speak softly. Do not surprise a dog from behind, scream at or otherwise startle him.

Never stare a dog in the eye.
Many breeds of dogs, especially those bred as guards, are protective, and perceive a stare as a challenge. This is particularly important with children, as they are often at eye level and are inclined to stare.

Never put your fingers in a dog's crate.
Dogs naturally defend their territories, and often consider the crate as their personal space. Sticking your hand inside a strange dog's pen may put him in a defensive situation and he may react accordingly.

Allow the dogs to eat in peace.
Do not approach a dog that is eating. Many dogs are defensive around their food dish.

Do not ask questions of handlers as they are entering the ring.
While showing a dog may look easy, it is often stressful on the handler. He or she is watching the ring for procedure, as well as sizing up the competition. Most breeders and handlers will be happy to talk to you once the judging for that breed is completed.

By respecting the dog and using a little common sense, you and your family will have a wonderful time meeting many breeds of dogs and their owners.