Breed Education: Third in a Series – It Starts With You

Breed education does start 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 what it took to prepare for a breed(s) seminar(s) from the perspectives of the presenter (teacher) and learner. In this article, 2nd in the series, we will cover some of the planning and preparation by the seminar(s) coordinator.

As I mentioned in the previous article, my path to becoming a better trainer and coordinator of learning experiences, included a course which used the Smith & Delahaye textbook, How to Be an Effective Trainer. While it leans heavily on the aspects of adult learning, those features reveal gems for prospective and current seminar coordinators regarding management of the learning experience. Covered are topics such as marketing of training, training room layout and set-up, audio-visual equipment and its effective use, timing, program evaluation, etc.

Previous comments received by ShowSight on the topic of breed education indicate a strong preference for a hands-on component to the learning experience. Some indicated a desire that example dogs be of varying degrees of quality, while others indicated a wish that example dogs be of consistently high quality. That surely indicates that we learn differently! All commenters indicated a learning experience that was enhanced by the abilities of superior presenters that spoke to the breed’s standard as written and where interpretation was needed, presented a historical consensus interpretation of the points in question.

PLANNING: Single Breed or Multi-Breed

Are you, or do you want to be a coordinator for multiple breed seminars during a consecutive span of days, or a single breed seminar coordinator for one seminar a year, or single breed seminars cadenced throughout the year? Whichever your undertaking, your planning, preparation, and execution are very similar, albeit on
different scales.

It all starts with the decision as to what breed(s) learning experience will be presented. If it involves a breed specialty club or a breed’s national parent club, the decision is obvious: that breed will the subject of a seminar, and possibly a hands-on workshop. If it’s multiple breeds, the questions soon add up and must be answered: what breeds, when, seminar alone or seminar plus hands-on workshop? For the sake of consistency, let’s assume that all the breed seminars being planned will include a hands-on workshop component. The planning is almost the same for a single breed seminar as multiple breeds seminars given over a compact time period, e.g. consecutive days, week.


If coordination is of multiple breed seminars over the course of days/week, the first step is to find out what breed and group seminars were offered in the past 12 months and which are scheduled to be offered in the following 12 months from the target date(s) that your group has focused on. Doing that will help eliminate duplications of recently offered or scheduled multi-breed seminars. This is fairly easily discovered by going to the AKC web site and checking within the Judges Resource Center under Upcoming Seminars The AKC Judges Education Department is very good about advance planning their/DJAA December breed seminars well in advance and will inform you of the upcoming groups to be offered. Checking with the other judges education groups listed in the Judging Resource Center may also help you learn of the other seminar offerings if not already published on the AKC web site. With this collective information, your education group should discuss and agree on the breeds to be offered at your group’s seminars.

There are a few things to keep in mind when offering breed seminars. One is the date(s) corresponding with a major specialty event or cluster of dog shows that attract a significant number of entries. This is as important as the physical location where the seminars be offered in relation to the ongoing specialty event or cluster. Many seminars draw their hands-on examples directly from the higher quality entries being exhibited at the specialty or cluster of all-breed shows. This makes it almost imperative to have a national specialty seminar or multi-breed seminars in conjunction with a well-entered event. For those education groups that offer one seminar per month for example, the adjacency of a well-attended specialty or cluster is of nominal consideration; however, the ability to draw outstanding breed specimens for the hands-on is still a consideration.

PLANNING: Facility

Now that target dates and specialty or cluster event have been chosen, the next task is to see if the physical facility has the attributes that are conducive to a good learning experience. Does the intended facility have an adequately sized room that will comfortably seat 40–50 attendees with sufficient room for a speaker with podium or table at the front of the room and the coordinator’s administrative aspects at the back or side of the room? Will the room accommodate tables and chairs set up in a fishbone or parallel rows facing the front so that all attendees are facing front? Using one’s lap as a desk for more than an hour or so is not beneficial to a good learning experience, worse if multiple handouts must be referenced. Is the room so large that the hand-on portion can be comfortably and safely held in another portion of the room? Does the room have a built-in audio-visual system (ceiling mounted projector, automatic drop-down screen, built-in sound system, AV connections that make all those systems work together with your group’s laptop)? If not, does the facility or your group have a portable projector (and extra bulbs) and stand, remote slide advancer, projection screen, sound speakers with adequate volume for the entire class, hardware cabling and electrical extension cords, that will work with your laptop? If your group must rent those, what is the cost per day? Does that include the cost of an AV technician? Does the meeting room have lights that can be dimmed? Learners will want to see what they are referencing in paper handouts and write on them, while at the same time being able to see the images on the projection screen. Where are the restrooms in relation to the meeting room? Is the meeting room free from cross-through traffic and distracting outside light or noises?

When thinking about where to conduct the hands-on portion of the breed seminar, consideration can be given to the meeting room itself if it is of ample size for the breeds involved and the facility management allows dogs and grooming tables/ramps in the room. If they do, planning for floor care and protection should be discussed. Plan on having cleaning supplies available for non-carpeted floors plus mats, or cover flooring, e.g. self-adhering poly sheeting flooring protection, and mats for carpeted floors, plus cleaning supplies. If another area is to be used for the hands-on, ensure that the flooring has adequate traction so that the handlers and example dogs can gain traction while gaiting and stacking, as well as good footing for the learners. Dirt surface or rough surfaced concrete would generally not need mats, but that is up to your group whether to use them or not.

Think about how large the hands-on area should be given the breed(s) that will be utilizing the space, as well as how the boundaries of the space will be marked off (ring stanchions and accordion gates, tape on floor, rope and stanchions, etc.), as well as avoiding encroachment by grooming set-ups into that space. When sizing the hand-on area, project the largest number of dogs that may be available (usually a maximum of eight) and how those dogs would line up against one side of the boundary as well as on the diagonal. The example dogs must fit with necessary room between each dog so that safety is maintained, as well as ensuring ease of the dog’s handler to set up the dog in profile and/or front-on for some breeds. If it is a table or ramp breed, plan on having at least four tables or four ramps so that four dogs at a time can be examined by the attendees. I learned, the hard way that seminar coordinators need to inform hands-on presenters of how a hands-on should be run. Some presenters are new to it, and others just need a lesson in controlling a group that wants to just get their hands on the dogs. Prepare clear instructions well ahead of your seminar time period as to what time each group of example dogs will be needed, of how the hands-on dogs will be placed within the ring/boundary for initial impression, for individual examination, and for evaluation of gait both coming and going, and from the side, where the attendees will be standing during the individual examination, during the coming and going gaiting and during the evaluation of side gait. Explore where the hands-on handlers will keep the example dogs in lead-up to the hands-on. Is there crating space set aside for them? Maintaining consistency of presentation helps the attendees know what to expect and keeps the hands-on running smoothly.

PLANNING: Administrative forms and documents

The next thing to think about is the mountain of forms that will be needed for your group’s seminar(s). You will need to calculate how many you need of each type of form for each breed represented in the seminars. The most up-to-date forms can be found at the bottom of the AKC web page at delegates/clubs/resources/seminars/ then to General Information for Conformation, then to Reports and Guides and click on each of the four links located thereunder. Each link opens to a PDF version of the forms that need to be used for seminars and hands-on workshops as well as the introduction. Familiarize yourself with what is required of you, the seminar coordinator, to send to the AKC at the completion of the seminar(s). Please find out if each seminar presenter will be bringing their own Certificates of Attendance from the parent breed club. Some parent clubs do this as a matter of course.

You will need the following forms for each breed:

  • Seminar & Hands-on Workshop Report (one per breed)
  • Seminar Attendee Form (accommodates 16 people to sign in per sheet)
  • Hands-On Workshop Breed Evaluation Form, if applicable (one for each person attending a hands-on per breed), (# of breeds offered X # of people attending each breed)
  • Judges Breed Study Group—Participant’s Evaluation (one for each person attending a seminar, per breed, (# of breeds offered X # of people attending each breed)
  • Judges Breed Study Group—Breed Expert’s Evaluation (one per breed to be completed by presenter)

The following form is specific to the seminar coordinator:

  • Judges Breed Study Group—Coordinator’s Evaluation (one for the entire set of seminars if multiple seminars given in a continuous time period, or 1 per breed if the seminar is given as a one-time (e.g., one per month, at a national/regional specialty)

If your group provides Certificates of Attendance, ensure that the breeds that each learner attends is represented on the Certificate of Attendance, including the date of the presentation and the name(s) of the presenter(s). Your signature, as coordinator, will attest that the information is correct. Plan on how you will produce those certificates for learners who attend one or multiple seminars.

PLANNING: Administrative supplies and equipment

Now that you’ve thought about the required forms and their logistics for use, think about the myriad items that may or will be needed during the seminar(s).

The following list will help you get started:

  • Cardboard/plastic filing box(es) with tops
  • File folders
  • Index cards and rubber bands (to identify each exhibit in the hands-on: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H). These disappear, so plan on having a fresh set for each breed.
  • Pens
  • Wide tip magic marker/felt tip marker (to make last minute signs, make armbands, etc.) >
  • Transparent tape (wide and narrow)
  • Stapler and staples
  • Paper clips (regular and jumbo)
  • Scissors
  • Binder clips in various sizes
  • Clipboards (at least 40, mark the back with your group’s name) These can be found relatively inexpensively online, as they only need to hold 2-4 sheets of paper at a time while learners are evaluating the example dogs and writing up their participant evaluation on that breed, or being used to hold sign-in sheets.
  • A carrier bag/box for the clipboards
  • Laptop and printer to be used to print out Certificates of Attendance for each learner. A portable black & white laser printer can be found online for under $100. Be sure to save each learner’s Certificate of Attendance in an electronic file on your laptop!
  • Extension cord(s) and linking cables for the above laptop and printer.
  • Reem of copy paper
  • Table covers, if needed
  • If your group is providing the audio-visual equipment, all the connecting cables and electrical extension cords that may be needed.
  • If your facility has built-in audio-visual equipment, a back-up projector comes in handy.

In addition to supplies and equipment, will you or someone in your group accept shipments of educational materials from seminar presenters or their parent clubs? Is someone designated to transport the shipped educational materials to the seminar site? If not, what arrangements will be made for delivery and storage of educational material shipments if you or someone in your group can’t accept shipments?

PLANNING: Creature comforts

Keeping learners comfortable over a period of days at multi-breed seminars is beneficial to the learning experience. To that end, will your group provide bottled water and snacks during the day? Is your group planning on providing lunch as part of the cost of the seminar(s)?

PLANNING: Financial

When you and your group have decided when and where to hold the breed seminars, the amount of materials and supplies you will need, and the cost of all those, the decision needs to be made as to how much to charge per person attending? Will the fee be based on attendance by the breed, by the day, by the entire number of seminars? Some combination of those? Will there be a price break or free attendance at other seminars for breed presenters? Will there be enrollment preference given to multiple-day registrants? How will income and expenses be tracked? Who will oversee or review the financial aspects of the seminars?

This would be a good time to design a spreadsheet that will suit your group’s needs. It helps to be able to cross reference income received with the names of the attendee payers, as well as amount submitted per attendee, payment identification, e.g. check number, transaction number, and type of attendance selected (single breed, single day, multiple days, entire course of seminars). Because the expenses are often limited to a few entities, a line-item description of each expense and amount is simple to enter and keep a running tally in the spreadsheet.

PLANNING: Marketing your Seminars

The means available to announce and market your seminars are many, and almost all of them come at no charge to your group. Your parent club’s website is a likely spot to announce a breed-specific seminar to be held in conjunction with the breed’s national specialty or other significant breed-specific event. The AKC offers free seminar announcements, breed and performance, on their web site at All you need to do to list a conformation seminar is to download and complete a Seminar Announcement Form (also available online), then send to Kathy Caruana at Other web-based sites in which you can list seminar announcements are the following Facebook groups: AKC Judges Only and AKC Conformation Judges. Please contact the group administrators directly, as you will need to be a member of the group in order to post. Your group may want to develop its own Facebook page to announce upcoming seminars and other educational endeavors. There is an email list for conformation and performance judges, Judges-L, on which educational seminars are announced at no charge. You must be a member of the Judges-L List-Serv in order to post. Many magazines that cater to the dog fancy announce breed seminars, some through formal paid advertising, and
others gratis.

Next in the Series on Breed Education

The next article, 3rd in the series, will continue the planning and preparation aspects of seminar coordination. We’ll cover the multitude of types of communications that should occur before your seminars start and address comments and questions received from our readers. Please feel free to contact us with your comments and questions at

  • Celeste M. Gonzalez is a graduate of the University of Florida, majoring in Animal Science and is also a Registered Quality Assurance Professional - Good Clinical Practices, Certified Clinical Research Professional, and a Certified Veterinary Technician. She works in the medical device field in clinical research and development after a long period of service in animal health, both in clinic and research. Celeste began showing dogs in 1975, while still in college, with the purchase of her first Basset Hound and began coursing and showing sight hounds with the purchase of her first Saluki the same year. She finished her first champion, a Saluki, in 1976. Participation in lure field coursing during the infancy and development of ASFA garnered her Salukis their ASFA FCh. One of her owner-trained-handled Salukis also obtained a C.D. in obedience. Salukis remained a part of her life until 1989 and she continues to be active in Basset Hounds to this day as an owner, breeder, and exhibitor. She continued to show her Bassets through her college career and began to breed in 1980. Her Jolly Time Hounds kennel has produced numerous Basset champions from a very small breeding program, including Best In Show dogs. Celeste has dabbled in tracking and field work with her Bassets and is proud of the accomplishments of her dogs that have gone to hunting and field trial homes. She is also very involved in Basset Hound health and her dogs are genetically tested for hereditary familial thrombopathia, MPS1, and primary open angle glaucoma. Celeste has judged Basset Hound and other Hound and Terrier breed specialties across the United States, including the BHCA National Specialty, and judged the Basset Hound Club of Spain national specialty in 2009. She is approved to judge the Hound and Terrier Groups.

  • Show Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

You May Also Like

Dog standing on a flat rock

A Simple Formula for Judging the Belgian Tervuren

Learn how to judge Belgian Tervuren dogs. Explore key factors like type, temperament, and ...

close up view of the colorful bubbles

The Bubble: Proposed State Laws Are Cause for Concern

Restrictive state laws threaten pure breeds' survival. Exhibitors and breeders need freedom to preserve ...

scottish terrier black coat

Scottish Terriers – Judge the Coat, Not the Colors

The hard and weather-resistant texture of the Scottish Terrier coat is essential for its ...

Affenpinscher Dog

Preserving Affenpinscher Breed Type

Preserving Affenpinscher Breed Type - Time? Yes, it’s time to step back and take ...

An Italian Greyhound standing in the grass.

Judging the Italian Greyhound

Learn the essentials of judging Italian Greyhounds: Silhouette, Movement, & Details. Expert insights for ...

Your Cart

No Item Found
Subtotal $0.00
Shipping $0.00
Tax $0.00
Total $0.00