AKC Gazette
Lhasa Apso Column
June 2023

The odds were millions to one, yet dreams of paying bills, helping family, travel, a new car fueled your imagination. But when you checked your lottery ticket, your bubble burst: Sorry, Not A Winner!

You entered your dog in a dog show. Dreams of class wins, championship points, maybe even best of breed, group wins, and above all – Best in Show – filled your imagination. The odds were not as daunting as the lottery, and you thought you had a shot. But the message was the same. Sorry, Not A Winner!

Winning the lottery is random luck. You can improve your odds in a miniscule way by buying more tickets. With dog shows, there is an element of luck, but you pay for a subjective opinion, not a random draw. So beyond having a good dog, there are some things you can do to make that opinion more favorable.
Let’s assume you have sought a knowledgeable and objective evaluation of your dog and it has been deemed ring worthy. Short of hiring a professional, what can you do to improve your odds?

Conditioning: A good dog must be in top physical condition. Good muscle tone, clean teeth, trimmed nails, and a coat that is clean, well-groomed and in peak condition for its age and breed. Be equally certain that you look like a person who is proud of your dog and serious about winning. Dress appropriately. Clothing doesn’t have to be expensive but should be clean and pressed. Wear clean shoes, jacket and tie for men and professional-looking attire for women. Your attire should frame your dog, and make you look like a team, not create a distraction. Choosing a color that highlights your dog is a plus.

Training: Both you and your dog should know ring procedure, and you both should move at a speed that demonstrates good movement and attitude. Your gait should match your dog’s. A dog with a smooth effortless gait looks awkward if its handler is taking short, choppy steps. Use the right lead for your dog, and make sure it is the right length for you. Take training classes for both of you from a qualified professional to sharpen your presentation.

Timing: Nothing screams amateur in the wrong sense of the word than someone who doesn’t allot the time needed to do things right. Arriving late to the show, then rushing from the parking lot to the ring in a panic, upsets your dog and sends a bad message to everyone who sees you. Some delays are unavoidable, but factor in time for the unexpected.

AKC requires that judges maintain a schedule, with limited time to evaluate each dog. If you delay judging by being called multiple times for your class or fail to make advance arrangements for extra help when you show more than one dog, you are upsetting the judge’s schedule and risk annoying the judge and fellow exhibitors.

Observation: Before you are ready to show, watch the judge. Familiarize yourself with their ring procedure, especially if it involves something out of the ordinary. Mentally go through stacking and moving your dog according to the judge’s procedure so there is no last-minute confusion that might unsettle you, your dog, or the judge. Your body language should signal confidence in what you are doing which translates into confidence in your dog.

Sportsmanship: Be gracious and courteous. No one likes a sore loser, but arrogant winners are equally unappreciated.

Questions: Not all judges will oblige, but don’t hesitate to politely ask the judge if there was a deciding factor in your win or loss. The knowledge you gain will help in the future. Improving your odds in many small ways can move you along to being what you desire – a winner.

Cassandra de la Rosa, The American Lhasa Apso Club, Email – dlrcas@msn.com