Showmanship Guidelines

General Guidelines
Dress Code for Rolling Bones members- All members are required to wear a white shirt with a 4-H patch over the left breast. The patches can be found online or in the 4-H Source book. Girls are to wear a green skirt (knee length or longer) Boys, green, Dark or Khaki pants with tie.

Dog Showmanship is based on teamwork between you and your dog.
Always have your dog under control and keep your composure. This means do not get frustrated with your dog. Every member and their dog will have good days and bad days. You dog one day will be very cooperative and other days will be wild and crazy. This has happened to EVERYONE!!! When you start to get frustrated stop, take a deep breath and give your dog a pat on the head and try again. For first time members and parents, it might be necessary to stand back or behind spectators so the dog won't get distracted. This does not work for all dogs. Make sue you have your dogs COMPLETE attention before starting any of the gaiting exercises. To get the best results practice & praise, Practice & Praise and PRACTICE & PRAISE!!! Praise a lazy dog with excitement. Praise an excitable dog calmly. But always praise!!! Never allow your leash to drag on the ground. DO NOT wrap your leash around you hand. Gather it into your closed fist. Always keep the dog between you and the judge. Always leave 2 dog lengths between you and the dog in front of you when gaiting. When stacking your dog, leave 1 dog’s length between you and the dog in front of you. In showmanship you may use bait (treats) for your dog. If you choose to use bait do not wave your arm around. Keep it still and be subtle.

To stack a dog or "hand stack" means to pose it according to the AKC breed standards. If you are showing a mixed breed dog you should choose the breed that your dog most resembles and pose it to that breeds standards. With most breeds to stack your dog you imagine a straight line from the dogs shoulder down to their front pastern. With the rear legs a straight line should be from the dogs hock to the rear patterns. The dog should be standing with the legs squarely under them and so that they are standing naturally and comfortably. To "free stack" means to let the dog pose itself. When stacking your dog they should be facing forward while the judge is doing the examination.

In Fitting & Show, you will be judged on the cleanliness of your dog. Your dog should be clean and its coat free from mats and loose hair. The coat should be trimmed in breed specifications. Ears should be cleaned with ear cleaner that you can get from your vet NOT WATER. They should be free from excess wax. Toenails should be trimmed and clean. Teeth should not have excess tarter build-up. MEMBER SHOULD BE DOING ALL THE GROOMING & CLEANING!!

Showmanship Procedures
When entering the ring you will be directed in the counter-clockwise directions. ALWAYS keep your dog between you and the judge no matter what direction you move in. When moving around the ring, hold the folded lead in your closed fist. Your hand should be held so that the leash forms a right angle with the collar. The dog's head should be held above the shoulder height. Don't allow the dog to sniff the ground ring ropes or anything else. When asked to bring the dog in front of the judge, stack it according to the breed standard. Small breed will be shown on a table to enable the judge to examine the dog more easily. When directed to the judge, show the bite and cleanliness of the teeth by placing your hand over the muzzle, just behind the nose, with the thumb and fingers over the canine teeth and gently pull back and up. Allow the judge to look at the dogs teeth before releasing its mouth. The judge will walk around the dog and run his or her hand over the dog checking for grooming and condition (if dog is correct weight). The dog should stand still and be relaxed with no reaction. If the dog moves, correct it gently. If necessary, correct its stack when the judge has finished his or her examination.


After the judge has examined the dog he or she will ask you to gait the dog. The judge can ask for a triangle, "L" or "T" pattern.
When moving in any of the showmanship patterns, always make sure the dog stays between you and the judge, switching hands at corners as necessary.

What to learn

Origin: Learn when and from where the breed you will show was bred and introduced in the USA. What was the original purpose of the breed?
Anatomy: Study the parts of the dog. Be able to point and name as many parts of a dog as possible.
Confirmation: Know what the breed you are showing should look like. Learn & know the general description and breed characteristics, including: coal, color height and other varieties (sizes/coat type).
Health & Disease: Learn common diseases, parasites and health problems in dogs. Learn normal temperature, heart rate, respiration, gestation period, estrus cycle, etc. Learn vaccination abbreviations and suggested schedule for vaccines. Know something about basic first aid.
Terminology: Know basic dog terminology and terminology specific to the dog & dog breed you will be showing.