Conformation Shows

Do you think your dog has what it takes to be a show dog? 


Teach your puppy from a young age to 'stack' - stand squarely and still. The Labrador Retriever can be free stacked or hand stacked depending on which the handler trains the dog to do. Free stacking is where the dog stands by themselves with the handler in front holding bait (treats). While hand stacking is where the handler moves the dogs front and back legs so that they are placed in the stack position, which is head up, back level (straight), front legs staright and back legs bent so that the stifle bends and the hocks are perpendicular to the ground, standing back from the set of the tail.

Try this after your puppy has been fed so he is relaxed. Get puppy to stand for a short amount of time and then praise and reward. Each time you do this do it for a little longer.

In the show ring the judge will 'go over' or examine your dog, while the dog is in a stack position. The judge will examine the dog's teeth, head, body, coat, tail and check testicles are decended in male dogs. So to get your puppy ready, practice having other people go over your dog by checking their teeth and body. Always praise your dog with treats or a favourite toy after it has does something right.

You can also take your puppy to the local show handler training classes held at some dog club's. This will help train you and your puppy for the show ring. Although this is not necessary, it is highly recommended. e.g.Southern Districts Kennel & Obedience Dog Club Inc. hold show handler training classes on Tuesday evenings 7.15pm-8.00pm , phone (08) 8325 1119.
Next we come to lead work. All lead work is carried out with the dog on your left side, the idea is to get your puppy to gait - a trot, alongside you so the judge can see the dogs movement and structure while on the move. You can practice with your puppy in the backyard or local park. 


There are three maneuvores, that can be asked for in the ring by the judge.
The first is going around the ring, in a circle shape in an anticlockwise direction.
The second is the triangle. You leave the judge heading towards the right hand corner, then you turn left and head straight to the next corner, then you turn left again and head back to the judge, standing your dog squarely in front of the judge. The triangle is done so the judge can see the back, side and front profile of your dog on the move.
The third is the out and back. You leave the judge and go straight across the ring to the other side then turn completly around and head back to the judge. Free standing your dog again in front of the judge.

The dog must also stand for examination when the judge will go over you dog.

Always remember to praise your puppy when he has done what you have asked, keep training times short and play afterwards so puppy associates training with fun times.


You will need a show slip collar and short lead. The slip collar should not have small fine links as it will catch in his coat and not slip freely, nor should it be large and heavy as that looks clumsy. If using a soft collar make sure they are not too thin as it will bite into your dogs neck. You will also need a large toothed comb, brush and a damp cloth for the finishing touches before entering the ring.

If he is a dog that responds to bribes you should take his favourite treat or toy to reward him for his good work.

For yourself and your dog you will need a shelter of some kind to keep out of the sun, wind or rain. A gazebo is a popular choice. A dog crate is also a good idea to keep your dog secure and rested during the day at the show. Cool, clean water needs to be available at all times.

You will need running shoes and neat clothing that contrasts in colour to your dog's colour. You will also need a label clip to display your exhibitor ticket to go into the ring to compete.


All exhibitors are required to be members of the South Australian Canine Association, known as DogsSA -  phone number 08 8349 4797. Your dog's pedigree must also be on their full register.

As a member you will receive a monthly journal that includes schedules for shows for you to enter. Your dog can be entered in shows once your puppy is fully vaccinated at about 3 months of age.

Also joining the Labrador Retriever Club of S.A. will enable you to participate in our special Labrador only events that happen through out the year, and new members are always welcome.

Page updated January 2012