Code of Ethics for Registered Handlers


Applicants are required to sign a letter containing the following:

I agree to:

  • Ensure that the welfare of the dogs in my care is a priority, not only at dog shows but at home and on the road. Their well-being, security, and safety is to be placed above all other business considerations. The ultimate responsibility for the dogs cannot be transferred to assistants or others.
  • Conduct myself in a sportsmanlike manner at all times in my relationships with fellow handlers, assistants, exhibitors, judges and clients, which includes courteous verbal interchanges and a professional appearance.
  • Abide by all published AKC rules applying to registration and dog shows.
  • Conduct my business relationships with clients in a fair and honest manner, based on a published rate schedule and handler/client agreement.
  • Provide my clients with their ribbons, trophies and information about their dogs' placements at each show in a timely manner.
  • Provide my clients with itemized monthly billing statements.
  • Ensure that my clients thoroughly understand payment and release terms.
  • Confirm with any previous handler of a new or prospective client that a valid outstanding balance does not exist, and will not handle any dogs for a client with a valid outstanding balance with a previous professional handler.
  • Not solicit business from a current client of another professional handler.
  • Avail myself of educational opportunities as may be established by the AKC.
  • Inform the handlers department of any change in home or e-mail address, telephone number, kennel facilities or travel vehicles.
  • Never falsely represent a dog as a service animal when it is not, or as an able-bodied party, accompany a bona fide service dog to gain travel benefit due to the dog's status.

A Quick Guide to the Disciplinary Guidelines

The disciplinary guidelines approved by the AKC Board of Directors are modeled on the way true professional handlers already run their businesses -- think of these guidelines as a "breed standard for handlers." It is not anticipated that the handlers who qualify for the AKC Program will fail to follow the guidelines. But, if a complaint comes in, the handler involved will be contacted right away to review the allegations. No fines are "automatic" -- the facts will be thoroughly investigated before action, if any, is taken. The Handlers guidelines do not contain suspensions from AKC privileges -- suspensions fall into the area of Event Committee hearings, just as they always have, and all persons in the sport are subject to them.

To request an application, e-mail or call 919-816-3884.

You may also write to:
American Kennel Club
Attn: Handlers Department
8051 Arco Corporate Drive, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27617-3390