It’s no secret that the exhibitor is the backbone of the fancy. I’ve been to many dog shows and apart from watching the beautiful dogs, I also tend to watch the exhibitors. I have often joked that the people at a dog show can be more entertaining than the dogs (hence the success of the movie “Best in Show”).
I’ve seen thousands of people show thousands of dogs and have noticed some traits that successful exhibitors tend to have. I’m not a professional handler or judge, but here are, in my opinion, signs of a good exhibitor.
A good exhibitor arrives at the show ready to work hard with their dog and tries their best to win.
A good exhibitor does not enter a show saying “I don’t know why I entered. I haven’t got a chance under this judge”. If an exhibitor truly believes that he or she does not have a chance at being put up under a particular judge, they do not enter that show on that day.
The good exhibitor wins graciously and loses with dignity, always offering a kind word of congratulations to whomever is the winner.
A good exhibitor waits to see how other judges place their dog, before deciding whether or not they were robbed of a ribbon. They know that accusations reflect more on them than they do the judge, and that it is unkind to spoil another exhibitor’s happiness by casting such a shadow.
Even if the exhibitor’s dog does not take breed, a good exhibitor usually stays and watches group judging and Best in Show. A good exhibitor knows that watching other handlers win is an excellent way to learn and improve their skills.
A good exhibitor knows their dogs are the first priority at a show- they are always comfortable, fed, have water, exercised and are able to rest peacefully between ring times.
A good exhibitor tries not to delay judging, and is ringside when they should be, with their dog ready to go.
A good exhibitor does not whisper remarks about past wins in an attempt to pressure the judge. A good exhibitor knows the judge won’t be impressed by this, and that the judge is there to evaluate the dogs there in front of them on that day.
A good exhibitor is aware that judges have enormous responsibilities at shows, and understands that inside the ring is not a time to act as though they and the judge are great friends.
A good exhibitor is always willing to answer questions the public has regarding the dogs and dog shows. By being friendly, a good exhibitor knows they can encourage newcomers to the sport and to the wonderful world of purebred dogs!
A good exhibitor listens carefully to the judge’s instructions and follows them to the best of their ability.
Although accidents happen, a good exhibitor makes sure their dog has been exercised before entering the ring to avoid the dog relieving themselves in the ring.
A good exhibitor does not leave bait they have thrown in the ring. The good exhibitor knows that failing to pick up the bait will distract other dogs from showing to their full potential. They also know that leaving bait in the ring risks another exhibitor slipping on it. The good exhibitor knows that leaving bait in the ring can attract bees and wasps at outdoor shows which could result in a dog or exhibitor getting stung.*
A good exhibitor is an excellent guest at hotels and motels. They always make the fancy look good by cleaning up after their dogs. They keep them on leashes in public areas and make sure they do not disturb other guests by barking excessively.
A good exhibitor knows that showing dogs is not for the faint of heart. The good exhibitor is the one who continues to improve, and does not give up. They are the lasting exhibitor, the one who understands that there are ups and downs in every hobby. They enjoy the thrill of the competition and are proud to present purebred dogs show after show, year after year.
Have you noticed any other traits or habits that a good exhibitors has? If so, leave them in the comments below!
See you next weekend!
*In my opinion, throwing a toy will safely get the same desired result.
All photos by Clint Ellery