Beginner’s Guide to Ring Stewarding

August 8, 2012

Competition Events

I love stewarding in the show ring! It is fun to see everything from the judge’s view, and I often have a great time chatting with them. They are so knowledgeable, and ALL of them have hilarious and horrific dog show stories. Most clubs will work around your dog’s ring time, and give you plenty of time to show your own dog as well as steward.

Stewarding is much like being a personal assistant and a secretary to the judge. You should be organized, and good at customer service. It can be especially rewarding, and you will learn something new each time. I highly recommend it. Here’s an outline of the job basics, and some hints on making it look easy.


The B.S. – (Before Show)

  1. Get your supplies from the Show Chairman, or the Chief Ring Steward. Usually there will be a box of toiletries (chap-stick, tissues, mints, band aids, etc.), a show catalog, a walkie-talkie, a bundle or two of ribbons, a bundle of armbands, a bag of rubber bands, as well as the steward’s book and judge’s book.
  2. Make sure your walkie-talkie works. Someone should have checked this beforehand, but do it anyway.
  3. Go to your ring, and get everything set up. Organize the ribbons, armbands, and your steward’s book. DO NOT mess with the judge’s book. In fact, don’t even open it. Many judges have their own system, don’t mess it up.
  4. Make sure there is an exam table in the ring if the judge is doing small breeds.
  5. Scope out the ring. If you are outside, check for gopher holes, uneven areas, trash and other objects. Try to take care of anything that could cause problems with exhibitors or their dogs.  Make sure to alert the judge to anything you find.
  6. Next, do some studying. Check out with breeds will be in your ring, and at what times.

Judge Arrives!

  1. Introduce yourself to your judge.
  2. Ask where the judge would like the exhibitors to line up inside the ring.
  3. Ask where the judge wants the table set-up, if necessary.
  4. Will hander changes be allowed? Until what point?  Often times, the rule is that handler changes are perfectly acceptable until the judge has individually gone over the dog. Past this point, many judges do not allow the swap. If a handler does come late, try not to disrupt the judge or the other competitors with the switch.
  5. Ask when the judge would prefer to do photographs, and call the photographer about 5-10 minutes before that time. Usually, the judge will opt to do pictures after each ring time’s breeds are finished. If a ring is running late, pictures will often wait until before/after lunch, or after all judging is finished.
  6. Find out if the judge wants dogs in catalog order- some don’t care, some do. Many will want catalog order until the BOB ring. The preference then is usually for male specials first, then females.
  7. Start handing out armbands, and make sure to MARK OFF who has picked up their armbands in the stewards book.
  8. After the National Anthem, the show begins.


  1. All dogs going to show in the first class should have picked up their armbands, so call out any remaining armbands- “Anyone need to pick up Labrador #5?  Six-to-Nine month puppy dog number Five?” After a minute or so, declare the dog absent.
  2. Call out the name of the class, followed by the armband numbers. “Six to Nine Month Puppy Dog, numbers 5 and 7”  Note any absences to the judge- “puppy dog #5 has not picked up his armband”
  3. Make sure the exhibitors line up where the judge wants them, and then continue checking people in (giving them armbands).
  4. During the class, lay out the ribbons that the judge will need to award to the class.
  5. When the judge has completed the class, mark the steward’s book.
  6. Call in the Next Class. Repeat.
  7. Make sure you know the order of classes. Try to keep track of the 2nd place dogs from the classes, in case they need to be called back into the ring for Reserve. Never forget Reserve! It happens a lot more often than it should.
  8. Try to anticipate the judge’s needs. Water is usually appreciated, etc.
  9. Call for clean-up/ photographers/hospitality as often as needed.
  10. Return all materials to the Superintendent’s Desk before lunch, and pick them up afterward. Make sure to return to the ring early so that you can check before in before the next ring time. I usually show up about 15 minutes before the ring time, depending on the number of entries.


The Steward’s Book:

  1. I check off each dog when their armband is picked up. When a dog is announced as absent, I write a big “A” over the numbers. (See the second image, below).
  2. Once the class is judged, I circle the number of the class winner (so that it is easier to see which numbers to call back in for Winners), and write the placement to the left of the number. (Third image)
  3. If a dog is excused (rare, thankfully) I write EX on top of the checked off number.
  4. Once Winners is judged, I fill out the correct armband numbers, and count the number of dogs that showed. I then circle the point value, found at the top of the page. (Final image below)

Big No-Nos:

  1. Do not criticize the judging! Be respectful.
  2. Never say the name of a dog, the dog’s owner’s name, or kennel name. The judge is not supposed to know!
  3. Do not write on the judge’s book or sheets! Don’t even make it look like you might be!


  1. Rude and/or unorganized exhibitors will happen, and much more so in some breeds. (Ask any judge/handler/steward.) If you are a brand-new steward, try to ask for “better” breeds. In my experience, toy dogs have the worst humans for this. Popular, larger breeds tend to be the best as far as organization goes. (Goldens, Labs, Dobermans, etc.)
  2. If someone starts complaining to you about the rings, the judging, the show grounds, whatever- Let them know politely that the club would love their input on how to improve the show.


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About BredByBitch

Hello! My name is Dani, and I've been in the "dog world" since I was 8 years old. My mother raises and breeds Irish Wolfhounds, which was my introduction to the show ring. I showed in Junior Showmanship for many years before aging out and getting my first German Wirehaired Pointer. I live in Tucson, AZ with my German Wirehaired Pointer, Luke. Luke is my man, from my first home-bred litter of wires.

View all posts by BredByBitch

2 Responses to “Beginner’s Guide to Ring Stewarding”

  1. adele Says:

    Excellent Post, thanks for sharing.


  2. Bipin parmar Says:

    Thanx ..wonderfull and usefull site…i am from india.
    Dog show handler .ipo.trainer and kennel club of indias
    Ringsteward…i am writing artical for dog magazine.
    And writing dog care book.
    I like your site pls carry on best luck


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