Breed Education Fifth in a Series: It starts with you

From the February 2020 issue of ShowSight. Click to subscribe.

Breed education starts with you: you the seminar presenter, you the learner and you the seminar coordinator. Breed education serves prospective adjudicators, be they judges or breeders. What you put into the learning or teaching experience, is what you, and others, get out of it. In the case of the seminar coordinator, what you put into it affects the learner(s) and the teacher(s).

In the last issue, we looked at the sometimes-overlapping phases of preparation and implementation for a breed(s) seminar(s) from the perspective of the seminar coordinator. In this article, fifth in the series, we will cover the working aspects for the learner and seminar presenter, as well as the rest of the implementation aspects by the seminar(s) coordinator.


You will get the most out of a seminar and workshop when you are mentally prepared to engage. You’ve done your homework on the breed(s) offered and may have some questions in mind.

Be sure to sign the sign-in sheet at the beginning of each seminar. It’s your responsibility to account for your presence, not the seminar presenter’s or coordinator’s. If you are attending multiple breed seminars over a short period of time, it helps to bring a copy of the registration form you submitted indicating the breed seminars for which you have registered and paid.

Following presenter/coordinator directions, arriving on time at the beginning of each breed seminar, focusing on the presentation, following directions for the hands-on, etc. will make the seminar and workshop go much smoother for yourself and for the other learners. Engaging in conversation with a classmate is distracting to the rest of the learners. Engaging with your smart phones, tablets or other reading material rather than the presentation is noticed by presenters and coordinators. It sends a message that you are not interested. Don’t be surprised if a presenter refuses to sign your certificate of attendance if you are absent for a substantial portion of the presentation or are doing something other than paying attention to the presentation.

Asking the seminar presenter for clarification on points in the standard, or in the presentation itself are usually welcomed and expected. What is not welcomed is arguing. If you, the learner, are not accepting of what the seminar presenter is stating, it’s best to approach the presenter when the presentation or hands-on is completed.

You should pick up a Hands-On Workshop Breed Evaluation Form and Judges Breed Study Group: Participant’s Evaluation Form for each breed seminar and hands-on you attend. Even though there may be more than four exhibits for the hands-on portion, you are required to examine, write you’re your observations and reasons and rank only four exhibits. Set down your clip board with evaluation forms prior to examining the example exhibit. For table/ramp breeds please place the clipboard on the floor, not on the table or ramp. As you finish the examination of an example exhibit and jot down your observations move to the next example exhibit in the lineup until you have rotated through four exhibits. While it’s natural that you will want to examine all dogs, if there’s more than four, in order to train your eye and hands note that the AKC limits hands-on examination of each exhibit to 20 people. This does not exclude additional people per exhibit from evaluating the gaiting portion of the hands-on.

Be cognizant of those in front of you or behind you during the gaiting portion of the workshop. If you were in the front for one of the down and backs, it is courteous to move to the back so another learner can move to the front for the observation. On occasion, you may want to see two exhibits gaited together. Please ask the seminar presenter and/or coordinator to accommodate your request. Most are quite willing to do so.

When the hands-on workshop portion is complete, you’ll come back for a debriefing of the exhibits just examined. During debrief you should have the opportunity to ask questions, respond to questions by the presenter or volunteer your own observations.

After the debriefing, complete your seminar participant evaluation form and the hands-on breed evaluation form (with your name and date on the hands-on form if want credit for attendance). The seminar participant evaluation form is anonymous, so please complete it so that presenters get needed feedback on the presentation content, structure, delivery and anything else that will help the presenters to improve their seminars.

If you have attended a breed’s presentation previous or already judge the breed and are present for a refresher course, please give deference to the learners that have not had the learning experience previously.

There usually is a rush to obtain Certificates of Attendance on the last day of a cluster of seminars. If you are leaving prior to the end of the cluster of seminars, please inform the seminars coordinator so that your certificate of attendance can be given to you prior to your departure. If you have stayed through the last seminar, know that the seminar coordinator is working as fast as possible to produce your certificate of attendance. HINT: Take a smart phone photo of each one of your breed’s attendance sign-in sheet and hands-on workshop evaluation form as you complete each one. Seminar coordinators are human and make mistakes too. Your proof of attendance at a seminar may come in handy in case of errors or if you forgot to sign your hands-on form evaluation form.

Seminar Presenter

Prior to arriving at the seminar location, you have received information from the seminar coordinator on the number of attendees registered for your seminar and have procured and brought with you and/or sent ahead the materials for the learners. Be sure to bring a few more, just in case. You’ve also provided a brief bio sketch of yourself and your activities and/or accomplishments in the dog world, be it show and/or field. Learners want to know who is presenting the breed seminar and what their experience is in the breed. Double check that all dogs committed to be at the hands-on workshop will be there and let them know the time to assemble prior to the hands-on.

You should arrive at least a half hour before your breed presentation seminar is scheduled to begin, if not sooner, per the coordinator’s request. The coordinator will want to run a short test session with your electronic media (USB stick with breed presentation in PowerPoint format and PDF format) in order to work out any oddities that may occur. This usually occurs while the prior breed’s hands-on is rolling along. Understand the method(s) of slide advancement, use of the microphone, etc. If the seminar coordinator has not briefed you on the expectations and mechanics for the hands-on workshop, please ask so you and the coordinator are giving the same message to the learners.

Stay on time and on task during your presentation. You have one and a half hours for the breed presentation and one hour for the hands-on workshop, in most cases. Often times, the next breed seminar will start when your hands-on ends. Ask the coordinator what kind of signaling they’ll give you so as not to run out of time during the presentation or the hands-on.

At some point, you will have to make the tough decision of “How tardy is too tardy for late-comers?” Your parent club should be able to provide you guidance in how to answer that question. Know ahead of time, as there are always some learners that come in half-way through a presentation and expect to get full credit. Please let the seminar coordinator know your parent club’s instructions for those cases.

Agree ahead of time as to how teeth, and testicles on males will be examined, and if you or the coordinator will do it and announce the results as well as age and sex of each exhibit to the learners. You don’t want 20 people going over each example exhibit’s bite and testicles, do you? Demonstrate how the examination of the mouth, teeth or bite is done for your breed. If a breed has a full mouth examination, e.g. Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, assure that the demonstration dog will tolerate having its mouth kept open for a sufficient amount of time so the learners become familiar with examining and counting teeth in sets. Likewise, for those breeds that have a thumb exam across the front of the lower lip, e.g. Pugs, Brussels Griffons, assure that the demonstration dog will tolerate having this type of exam done several times in demonstration.

Demonstrate the execution of the proper breed-specific hands on examination and examination of coat, where required. When you are putting your hands on certain areas, for instance the bottom (ventral surface) of the sternum while checking for the end (xyphoid process), explain why you are doing so and why it’s of importance for that particular breed. A few breed standards indicate that the forequarters are heavier than the hindquarters, or that the dog is heavy for its size. Be sure to demonstrate how that is evaluated, or what to look for. You are thoroughly familiar with those aspects, but your learners are generally not. If your breed is a dwarf breed, has a wrap-around front or has any breed standard acceptable departure from the normocephalic and long-legged canine structure, please explain the purpose of that trait in the breed and demonstrate how to evaluate it.

For the breeds that are weighed and/or measured, please ask ahead of time for the AKC Field Representative to give an example of weighing and measuring. In those > Groups that have multiple breeds that are weighed and/or measured, ask if the coordinator has arranged for a weighing/measuring demonstration from the AKC Field Representative. For those Terrier breeds that are traditionally sparred, demonstrate a correct entry into the spar and execution of the spar with two, and no more than three dogs, including what the learner should be looking for during the spar.

Once all example dogs have been examined and gaited, you may dismiss the handlers and their exhibits. You should ask the learners their opinions of the exhibits, perhaps asking for their first and last placements and why. As you debrief the class of learners on the ideal placements for the class, be sure to include your rationale for the placements. Learners should have the opportunity to ask questions or volunteer their own observations.

After the debriefing, remind learners to complete their seminar evaluation form and the hands-on breed evaluation form (with their name and date on the hands-on form if they want credit for attendance) and turn them in to the coordinator or you.

At this point, you will need to complete a seminar presentation evaluation for the seminar and workshop you have just given. Sounds odd, but you have to critique yourself and the materials used for the presentation. You’ll also need to sign and date the learner sign-in sheets and each completed hands-on workshop form. It’s informational to go through each of the learners’ participant evaluations of the seminar in order to glean information on how the presentation could be made better. If you would like a copy of the sign-in sheet(s) for your breed, a photo of each sign-in sheet taken on your smart phone is a quick way to capture the information. You’ll be completing the signing and dating of those forms while the coordinator is getting the next breed going on its presentation.

If there are leftover presentation or learners’ materials, please take them back with you. Offering a copy to the seminar coordinator for their judges’ group use is often appreciated.

Seminar Coordinator

As you wind through the seminars and hands-on workshops, it helps to keep each breed’s sign-in sheets, hands-on evaluations, seminar presenter’s evaluation report, and participant’s evaluations in a folder of its own. It avoids mix-ups!

Occasionally a learner will forget to pick up their certificate of attendance and you will need to mail it to them, or scan to PDF and email it to them.

Hopefully, by the end of the cluster of seminars all the snacks and water bottles will have been used up and you won’t need to haul those back. During your packing of materials and supplies, assure that all your hardware and electronic gadgetry is accounted for and packed up for its next use. If there are specific instructions on powering down on-site equipment, please follow through so the next group using that room/site will have working equipment. If something not owned by your judges education group broke during the seminars or was used up, e.g., a light bulb in the projector burned out, please be sure to inform the facility’s management of that.

Once you’ve gotten home, it’s time to send all the completed sign-in sheets, hands-on breed evaluation forms, participant evaluation forms, the seminar presenters evaluation forms and finally your own evaluation form as seminar
coordinator. Even with completing the coordinator’s evaluation form, I have found it easier to complete a memo to the AKC Judges Department. That memo includes an overview of breeds offered, attendance number, at each seminar, presenter(s) for each seminar, what worked and didn’t work at a particular seminar or cluster of seminars. This let’s the AKC know that you and your judges education group are cognizant of where things can be improved and take it seriously. In telling them what could be improved, be sure to include your action plan for improvement at the next seminar or cluster of seminars. Then, follow through with those commitments.

Please try to get all seminar paperwork to the AKC within 2-3 weeks of seminars’ completion. Prospective judges are often counting on that paperwork being processed by AKC so that they can turn in an application for another breed/breeds. Prior to bundling (by breed) and sending all completed forms to the AKC Judges Department, I like to scan to PDF all the completed sign-in sheets and hands-on evaluation forms for each breed, as well as the presenter evaluations. Those scans have come in handy in the past as either a learner, presenter, and/or the AKC Judges Department itself has had questions.

Kick your shoes off, relax and before you know it the next seminar or cluster of seminars will be on the horizon and everyone, presenters, learners, and coordinators will be gearing up for the next learning opportunity!

Next month we’ll discuss continuing education for learners. After all, we are all learners all the time, I hope! As always, your questions and comments are most welcome,

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