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Every party has a pooper, and dog shows are no exception. Read the tips below to avoid being grouped into one of these categories and hopefully you won't run into any at this year's AKC/Eukanuba National Championship Dec. 12-13.

The Handsy Bystander Never walk up to a dog and pet him without getting permission first. Handlers (the people showing the dogs) have spent hours carefully coiffing their pet’s coat to make it show-ready, and even one gentle pat can ruin all that work. Many times, after they’ve finished showing, the handlers will be more than happy to let you give a congratulatory petting to their four-legged champs. 

The Chatty Cathy What breed is that? How do you keep his coat so straight? How much exercise does he need? Seeing all these interesting breeds can have you brimming with questions, but try to hold off asking them until the handlers have finished showing. Before the show, they are focusing on their dog and getting ready for their turn in the ring. Instead, browse the breed profiles on using your smartphone or consider attending AKC Meet the Breeds this February, where you can ask as many questions as you’d like. 

The Crazy Kids (and their Parents) A dog show can be an excellent opportunity for children to learn about dogs and responsible breeding. But make sure you are watching them carefully. Don’t let them run up to dogs and stick their fingers and hands into crates or exercise pens. Also, it’s best to leave strollers in the car. Strollers can place a child’s face at the same level as unfamiliar dogs’ faces. Plus, a stroller can accidentally run over a dog’s tail.

The Roadblock Dog shows are fascinating to watch, especially when your favorite breed is in the ring. But when you stake out a spot to watch, make sure you’re not blocking the entrance or exit to the ring. Traffic jams delay the show and make it even longer before you can get up close and personal with the show’s stars. 

The Canine Crasher The thought of your dog getting to meet all sorts of exotic breeds at once can be really exciting, but dogs that aren’t competing or taking a Canine Good Citizen test are not allowed at dog shows. You will almost certainly be turned away at the door or asked if leave with no refund if you sneak your dog in. Don’t risk missing the show—leave Fido home, and tell him about it later. 


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Canine Good Citizen (CGC)

This program is recognized as the gold standard for dog behavior. In CGC, dogs who pass the 10 step CGC test can earn a certificate and/or the official AKC CGC title. Dogs with the CGC title have the suffix, "CGC" after their names.