facing obstacles and enjoying community in the dog show world

Beyond the Ribbon: Facing Obstacles & Fostering Community at Dog Shows

Diving into dog shows has been an amazing journey. I’ve found an incredible group of people who’ve really made me feel at home, sharing their expertise and friendship. Engaging in mentor programs like Show Dog Prep School and Dog Show Mentor has been enlightening, connecting me with fellow dog lovers who are all about supporting each other’s success and being there for the struggles.

Now, for the flip side of Dog Shows

It’s not always picture-perfect, and there are some tough lessons I’ve learned along the way, especially in my journey with my breed, Biewer Terriers, although I’m pretty confident these experiences run across a lot of breeds:

  • The majority of folks involved in dog shows turn out to be more acquaintances than close friends.
  • Often, you’re valued only for what you can contribute rather than who you are as a person.
  • Trust your instincts when it comes to people, don’t ignore warning signs, and maintain your boundaries while still showing great sportsmanship.
  • Avoid getting involved with individuals who prioritize winning over integrity, resorting to manipulation and underhanded tactics.
  • Seek out those who stay positive and avoid getting too close to anyone who’s always talking down about others.
  • When you’ve been wronged, walk away. Don’t play into drama and be thankful for the revelation
  • Don’t lose heart if you hear people in your breed speaking negatively about you. Be grateful you found out. Please don’t ask for details because they don’t matter. They are not your people
  • Participate in Dog Shows because you love your dogs, you want to better your breed, become a better owner-handler, and bless others with help and advice.
  • Separate yourself from the negative and embrace all the positivity that is around you.

Focus on Community With Your Dog Show Peers

Adding to this spirit of community, nurturing newcomers to the dog show scene is incredibly rewarding, and it’s something that goes far beyond personal gain or accumulating points. There’s a unique joy in witnessing someone new fall in love with your breed, embracing all its quirks and qualities, and gradually finding their own path to success. It’s about fostering a supportive environment where everyone feels valued and encouraged to grow, not just as competitors but as caretakers of the breed’s legacy. Sharing knowledge, experiences, and even the occasional setback helps to build a foundation not just for individual success but for the continued health and vitality of the breed itself. I want to give a shoutout to my dear friend and someone who embraced me in the dog show community, Sondra Dankberg, a professional handler (https://www.facebook.com/sddoghandling). This beautiful soul truly made me feel welcome when I didn’t know anyone, introducing me to a tribe of fellow dog enthusiasts. I want to be like Sondra.

Dog show communityBuilding a real sense of community at dog shows is key. This means more than just showing up for your own events; it’s about being there for your fellow handlers and breed enthusiasts, too. Bringing snacks for your group can turn a long day into a delightful gathering. Cheering for each other in the ring, capturing those precious moments on video, and snapping photos can mean the world to someone who’s poured their heart and soul into preparing for the day. These small acts of kindness and support weave a tighter, more connected community where everyone feels they belong and that their successes, no matter how small, are celebrated by all. This is what truly enriches the dog show experience, transforming it from a competition into a shared journey of passion and camaraderie.

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