Rude, careless, and potentially dangerous behavior, seems much more common among casual spectators than with those who are showing. Therefore, the following petiquette rules for attending a dog show:
1. Unless you have a specific need to bring your dog with you, leave him at home! This is especially important if your dog is aggressive or fearful with other dogs or strangers. Dogs that are not accustomed to the crowds and noise of a dog show can become frightened, overly excited, or aggressive, meaning both the dog and the owner are in for a long, stressful day.
2. Keep your dog on a short leash and under control. Long-lines and flexi-leads are dangerous in the crowded and chaotic conditions of a dog show and have no place there. Sure, your dog may be friendly, but the dog whose face he gets into may not be. If your dog is lunging, barking, snapping at other dogs, or otherwise out of control, please leave before something bad happens.
3. Make sure your dog's leash and collar are secure, and the collar isn't so loose that he could slip out of it. The cry of "loose dog" is one that sends chills down every person's spine at a dog show because of the potential for a lost or injured dog. However, keep in mind that AKC rules prohibit anything other than buckle or slip collars (i.e., no prong, no-bark or invisible fence collars, Gentle Leaders, or muzzles).
4. Do not allow your dog to go up to any other dog or person unless you have been specifically told it is okay. Likewise, do not approach or pet anyone else's dog without permission.
5. Avoid standing near ring entrances and crating/grooming areas with your dog. Also keep your dog far enough back from ringside that he won't distract dogs in the ring.
6. Please don't allow your small child to walk your dog around the grounds! Children under the age of ten or so have neither the strength nor experience to read a situation or prevent a problem from happening.
7. CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOG! If you didn't bring a baggie, anybody there will be happy to either give you one or point you towards the nearest pooper scooper. And please watch your male dog, especially, to make sure he doesn't lift his leg on vendor's wares, crates, somebody's leg, a sports coat laying across a chair, etc.
8. If your dog is a young puppy and has not yet completed his shots, either keep him in a crate or carry him--do not let him sniff at the ground or go near other dogs. In addition to the danger of disease (e.g., parvo and distemper), there is a risk that your pup could be injured or at least traumatized by an older dog.
9. Your dog should be clean, groomed (not necessarily a show trim, but at least neat and brushed out), free of parasites, and HEALTHY! This should go without saying, but I have seen a few dogs brought to shows in less-than-wonderful condition, including some with badly infected eyes, and one that appeared to be suffering from mange. Remember that you want to show off your dog, not give people the creeps or make other dogs sick!
10. Finally, be aware of your dog and your surroundings at all times. Too many people get to talking, watching the show, or shopping, and seem to forget that they've still got a dog at the other end of the lead. And it only takes a moment of distraction for trouble to happen. If you can, consider bringing a crate along with you, or arranging for someone to let you use one of their extras at the show, so you can spend some time enjoying the show without worrying about what your dog is doing every second.