Exhibitor Mentoring Program

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m new to the sport of dogs, how can I get started?

Even the top winning participants in dog showing were new once. To a novice it can be overwhelming to learn the ins and outs of dog showing from finding the right puppy, to entering your first show to actually competing. AKC has developed a program to match the experienced breeders and fanciers to newcomers. It is our hope that it will make the transition into this exciting sport welcoming and less intimidating. Please click here to sign up.

Why would I want a mentor?

Dog showing has a rich tradition of mentoring. Traditionally, experienced breeders and breed fanciers have served as mentors for individuals interested in the sport of showing dogs. In many cases, these mentors not only provided the dog, but also extensive one-on-one training, advice and assistance to interested new owners in everything from grooming, to health care, to showing, and even the eventual breeding of the dog. Many mentor-mentee relationships develop into lifelong friendships.

Learning the ropes in any sport can be difficult. A mentor provides invaluable one-on-one guidance through the sometimes complex rules and traditions of dog shows. A mentor can help you practice, assess your individual requirements, and prepare you for success in the show ring.

AKC mentors are experienced breeders and fanciers who care deeply about their breed and the show events in which their dogs participate. They are volunteers who give back to the dog-show community by sharing their extensive and valuable knowledge with newcomers.

I thought all good breeders mentored their puppy buyers. Why is the AKC getting involved in this?

Many good breeders do mentor their puppy buyers, especially when they sell a new exhibitor a show prospect. Traditionally, this is how many people learned the ropes in the sport of showing dogs.

However, today's breeders have many demands on their time. Many are also judges and may spend a lot of time travelling. Others have full-time jobs or other responsibilities, and others may live a long distance from the puppy buyer. We honor and strongly encourage a close relationship between breeder and owner, but we recognize that this isn't always possible. And this is where The American Kennel Club's New Exhibitor Mentoring Program can help.

Isn't it the responsibility of clubs to help mentor new exhibitors?

Many clubs do help mentor new exhibitors. As a club of clubs, the AKC encourages all dog clubs and their members to welcome and assist newcomers whether their interests are conformation (traditional dog showing), competitive obedience, traditional performance events, or simply training a dog to be a good companion and good citizen. All-breed clubs may not have members with the breed or competitive experience (or available time) to help new exhibitors in their endeavors. Wherever clubs do have such resources, we encourage them to foster such relationships within their club.

Also, many breed or parent clubs require that new members have several years of experience in their breed before they apply for membership. By the time new members are accepted into the club, they will have already had a need for mentoring. The American Kennel Club's New Exhibitor Mentoring Program does not require new exhibitors to have extensive breed knowledge or any previous dog show experience.

How do we match mentors and mentees?

We provide new exhibitors who are interested in being mentored a list of individuals who have expressed an interest in helping out new exhibitors in their area. Both parties are participating because they have expressed an interest in participating in this program. Mentors are expert volunteers.

We encourage the new exhibitor to make contact based on location, breed (or breed type such as terrier, hound, etc.) or event interest. Most of our expert mentors will be able to assist you in getting started regardless of the breed. If a mentor is not available in your immediate area you may contact someone farther out and arrange to meet at a show, trial or club event within driving distance for both of you. We make periodic updates to our mentor lists. If you are unable to find an appropriate match, you are welcome to reapply.

How can I become a mentor?

Mentors must be members in good standing of an AKC affiliated club. They must have extensive knowledge about showing and their breed(s). You can learn more or sign up for The American Kennel Club's New Exhibitor Mentoring Program online.

Why would I want to mentor?

Mentoring is part of a rich tradition unique to our sport. By participating in this program, you are not only helping new exhibitors in your community, but also helping to create an important legacy for the future of our sport and purebred dogs.

How can I learn more or sign up for a mentor?

You can learn more or sign up for The American Kennel Club's New Exhibitor Mentoring Program online.

I'm interested in your other events (companion and performance) in addition to dog shows. Can you help me?

Yes, in addition to dog shows many of our mentors are qualified to help you get started in our companion events (such as agility, obedience and rally) and performance events (such as field trials, tracking or lure coursing). They have listed their areas of interests to help assist you in finding the right mentor.

I've signed up to be mentored. Now what do I do?

The AKC public education department will supply you with a list of available mentors in your area within a few days of receiving your application.

I've signed up to be a mentor. Now what do I do?

Your contact information will be added to our Mentor Directory. New Exhibitors will be provided with this list as they apply for the program and will contact you on their own time. While you are waiting for a new exhibitor to contact you we encourage you to read the available resources at: http://www.akc.org/public_education/mentor.cfm. These resources will be updated with new materials from time to time.