How to Organise a Dog Show

Organising a dog show is fun, even if it is just for a small group of people. You can do agility with dog shows as well! It is also a good way to raise money for a charity.


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    Do you have insurance? Do you have a license? Good, now lets continue.
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    Volunteers. To run a successful fun dog show you’ll need lots of reliable people to help you. Assign everyone a job and make sure everyone knows their role.
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    Begin by organizing the place you are going to do the show. Make sure that you are allowed to hold a public event here. Also decide what to do if it rains. Is it indoors? Will it get muddy? Is there somewhere to do agility if you are holding that event? Make sure that once you have your venue, book it with plenty of time to organize everything else.
    • Village/school halls with access to a playing field are good choices. Marquees are another option but expensive. You will also most likely need good parking facilities for spectators and competitors. Also make sure you toilet facilities.
    • If you have a second ring for Agility/ Obstacle course or Obedience, then a notice of that ring’s purpose should be displayed on a prominent notice board.
    • The ring should be large enough for the contestants to stand along 2 sides and maybe partway down the third side. For a 6 class novelty type show, you should consider a ring of some 20 meters (65.6 ft) by 20 meters (65.6 ft). If the contestants are stood along 4 sides then the ring is too small for purpose - so make it bigger next year. Spectators should be able to sit along at least 2 sides of the ring, if not 3.
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    You need to decide how serious your show will be. More serious shows use qualified and experienced judges. Fun dog shows are just that and taken less seriously by all concerned. With either however you need to plan out a good show programme with the right number of classes etc.
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    Decide all of the classes you will have for the show. If you are stuck for ideas you can look up classes. Here are some ideas:
    • Suggested Pedigree Classes
    • Puppy - Any breed (6 - 12 months)
    • Yearling - Any breed (12 - 24 months)
    • Gun-dog - Any breed
    • Hound and Terrier - Any breed
    • Working or Pastoral - Any breed
    • Toy and Utility - Any breed
    • Any Variety - Open
    • Suggested Novelty Classes
    • Best Veteran - Any breed (7 years and over)
    • Best Crossbreed
    • Best Rescue Dog - Any dog that has come from an animal shelter.
    • Most Handsome Dog
    • Prettiest Bitch
    • Most Appealing Eyes
    • Waggiest Tail
    • Best Condition
    • Best Brace - 2 dogs alike
    • Best Irish Brace - 2 dogs of different types
    • Best 6 legs - Dog and Owner
    • Best Junior Handler
    • Dog The Judge Would Most Like To Take Home
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    Dog agility classes are often included at dog shows but usually as an interesting novelty. Owners are invited to let their dogs have a try-out at various challenges such as walking along planks, over hurdles or in and out of sticks etc. These competitions are usually just a bit of fun and an added attraction to your fundraising event.You may however like to consider inviting your local dog agility club. These clubs are often keen to demonstrate the skills of their pets and regularly feature in all sorts of summer fundraising events. A run through of their routines can make a great attraction at your event.
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    It is traditional to give rosettes to the winners of every class, with a larger and more colourful rosette to the Best In Show Winners. Some shows give rosettes to the first four places, whilst some shows have rosettes down to 6th place. You do not have to award six places in every class. You could also do certificates. Remember do order these early and in plentiful supply. Cups are also a good option.
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    Paperwork. Every show will have its own style of Entry form. Ideally, the form should be A4 size with the entrant keeping the top half - which has venue, class list, class fee, sponsors, etc. The volunteer booking in the entries should write the classes entered on to the kept section, or on to the back of the ring number cards as they are issued. The bottom half should be submitted at the entry point, and include:
    • Name, age and breed of dog
    • Owners contact details
    • Classes being entered
    • Total entry fee paid
    • Dog Club membership number (If a DC event)
    • You may also want to have forms for the judge to fill to say who came where. This is especially important if you are holding a best of show class.
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    You may want to advertise out space so local dog related companies can come and try show of their stuff. You can also hold little raffles, tombolas, etc.
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    Judges. Make sure have either professional judges, or volunteers willing to do it. Either way they should have experience with dogs.
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    Advertising. Make posters, put notices in newsagents’ windows or on council notice boards, use local newspapers and radio stations, and advertise on Facebook. Make noise and get the word out there. You will want to do this anywhere from a month before to a couple of weeks before, depending on how much publicity you want.
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    Set up. Depending on how early you are allowed at the venue, you may need to get a wiggle on. Lots of volunteers are useful. If you are running an agility course you will need to set up, plan and number a course.
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    Health and safety. Think about the venue and activities that you’ve chosen. Is there anything that could put a dog or owner at risk?
    • Vets — you should have a vet on hand should a dog need medical attention. You could ask a local vet to be a judge.
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    Don't panic on the day. Enjoy it!


  • Keep the dogs under control.
  • Litter bins or similar with black bins bags should be available for visitors to place wrapped dog waste in to. These bin should be clearly marked for accepting dog waste. The dog waste bin or bag should be clearly marked. Feel free to print and laminate this "Bag it and bin it" sign, and fix to the bin or adjacent post
  • Do leave space around the ring for the entrants to bring chairs, and parasols for hot sunny days. Allow for spectators to sit around three sides of the ring.


  • Keep the dogs well under control
  • Advertise it well, otherwise there is less chance of people going with dogs
  • Do not enter your dog in the show, if you are judging. You may want to go for him!
  • Remember 3rd party insurance ECT. As named above.

Things You'll Need

  • Insurance
  • Volunteers
  • A venue
  • Toilet facility's
  • An official's tent
  • Agility jumps etc. for agility
  • A judge/s
  • Netting or fencing for the arena
  • Prizes, rosettes, trophy's certificates ECT.
  • Paperwork

Article Info

Categories: Working with Dogs