Rules and Scoring

Official Rules

The following are the official rules of the contest. These rules may be amended by the producer of the contest if need arises. Any contestant found to not be following the rules will be subject to discipline, which may take form of point reduction or disqualification. In order to qualify to compete, you must meet the feedership expectations.  Please refer to that tab for full information.

All contestants will be expected to register for the event.  Once applications are approved and registration is complete, IPAHW will send a discount code for meals and swag.

 1.  At the time of application, social media accounts may be reviewed.  Any questions regarding past behavior will be addressed at this time.  Examples would be (but are not limited to):  symbols that promote racism or bigotry, speech that squelches diversity and inclusion, rhetoric that is consistently inflammatory in nature, espousal of willful consent violations.  

2. All contestants will participate in all categories of the contest, as given under the scoring guidelines.

3. All contestants will bring to the event either: (1) at least one basket of donated goods to be sold at auction.  Themed baskets bring in the most money, and it is always wise to consider your audience.  Or, (2) selling the equivalent of a full-page ad in the run book and at least one silent auction item. 

4. Contestants shall not attempt to sway the judges through gifts, meals, favors, or any other kind of items or acts that could be seen as bribery.

5. Illegal drug use is prohibited.   
6. Excessive use of alcohol will likely result in a reduction of points in the Lifestyle Image portion.

7. Nudity and actual sex acts are not permitted on the stage. All contestants must have front genitals covered with opaque material at all times, and the buttocks must be covered by a minimum of a 1” strap, by state law. For female contestants, nipples and aureoles must also be covered. Again, this is by state law, not contest weekend policy.  

8. All rules and regulations imposed by the IPAHW event must be followed. Removal from the IPAHW event will result in immediate disqualification from the contest.

9. The producers reserve the rights to amend these rules as necessary. If this occurs, all parties involved will be notified.

10. The producer and the staff of the contest do not have any authority to override any judges decision. The head judge is in charge of the judging team. In relation to the scoring, the decision of the head judge is final.

11. Have fun, and remember this wonderful experience!

Titleholder Expectations

Our expectations of our titleholders is to represent the puppy and Handler community to the best of their abilities.  Titleholders are expected to be ambassadors of inclusion and diversity.  Titleholders are expected to travel off of their home continent at least once during their title year. Titleholders are expected to return the following year to give their step-down speech and to serve as Tally Masters.  Titleholders are expected to return the subsequent year to serve as judge.

Scoring Guidelines

The scoring is based on a 750 point system. Each contestant is judged individually and not as a pair. For all contestants competing as puppies, the best score out of 750 will be declared the winner of International Puppy. For all contestants competing as Handlers/Trainers, the best score out of 750 will be declared the winner of International Puppy Handler. In the event that no contestant scores 80% of points or more there will not be a winner for that title. An Olympic style scoring system in which the high and low scores for each category are thrown out is used.  In the case of a tie, the removed scores are added back in to determine the winner. 


The categories are as follows:

-Interview:  (300 points available) Each contestant will participate in an interview. The head judge will establish the order and room setting for questions and will also moderate the session.  Each judge should be allowed to ask whatever type of questions they deem necessary to learn what they need to know about each contestant. Based on the number of contestants to interview and the time allowed, the head judge will set limits on how many questions the judging panel will ask.

The interview is set up as a means for the judges to get to know the contestant.  The questions that they ask will be completely up to them.  It is important for the contestant to be prepared to answer a wide range of questions. While not limited to, it should be expected to hear questions regarding their application, leather/puppy history questions, social media presence, lifestyle questions, and personal belief questions.

-Speech:  (200 points available) The contestants will prepare beforehand and deliver a speech during the opening ceremonies of the event. This speech can be on any topic the contestant wishes, but must be recited from memory and not read.  The judges will award points on both speech content as well as speech delivery. The speech should be between 90 seconds and two minutes in length.  Each speech will be timed and the judges will be informed of the recorded length after each speech.  Points will be deducted for speeches going under as well as over time.  The points deducted will be standard across the contestants but may be amended for situations out of the contestants' control. Examples of issues outside of the contestants' control would be, but are not limited to, microphone malfunction or audience disruption.

The speech is designed to see the contestant the way the public will see them as a titleholder.  It is important for the contestant to choose a topic that they are both familiar with and passionate about.  Some contestants choose to use the speech portion to allow the audience the opportunity to get to know something about them such as their past or their vision.  Others choose to use the time to share their passion for a topic.

-Lifestyle Image:  (100 points available) Judges will observe all contestants during the course of the event weekend.  Judging officially begins Friday after the contestant meeting.  Any contestant arriving late should expect a reflection of this in their total points.  Contestants should make an effort to meet each judge before the speech portion of the contest. From their observations, judges will award Lifestyle Image points based on their opinions of how each contestant behaves and interacts as a puppy or Handler/Trainer. These observations will include, but will not be limited to, public and mosh pit interactions.

The lifestyle portion is to see the contestant interact with the public as a whole. A large part of being a titleholder is spending time at events with both friends and strangers.  It is important for the contestant to recognize that they are being watched at all times, as they balance their interactions.

-Pop Question:  (100 points available)  The judges will observe the contestants as they answer one or two unknown questions.  The questions may be randomized, or they may be specifically chosen for the contestant by the judges.  Typically, one question is related to community service and one question is meant to be more light-hearted.  The purpose of the pop questions is to see if the titleholder is prepared for the unknown questions that always arise in their travels.

-Scenes: (50 points available)  The judges will observe the contestants in either a Show Presentation in the show ring or they will observe a Fantasy/Play Presentation performed by the contestant. The choice of which presentation the contestant chooses is completely up to their comfort-level, and the same number of points are available, regardless of choice.  There are no "preferential points" given or removed based on which presentation the contestants choose. 

The scenes in both the Show Presentation and the Fantasy/Play Presentation are meant to fun for the audience and may be very puppy-fun-centric or they may be overtly sexual in nature.  Due to state law, no nudity is allowed on stage, and any sexual acts must be acted-out, not performed.  Scenes are expected to be respectful to the community at large.  Scenes with extremely inappropriate behaviour/topics may be disqualified by the producer/head judge decision.  Examples of this would be (but are not limited to) scenes promoting rape culture, racism, misogyny, transphobia, intolerance, or promoting hate symbols.

-Show Presentation: This portion will present to the judges how well the contestant works with a pup or trainer in a one on one situation. Points will be awarded on how well the contestant gives / receives instruction, comfort level in front of a crowd, and overall attentiveness to the other participant. This category will also allow the contestants to showcase their headspace in their respective role as pup or trainer. Judges will also look for believability in each contestant’s approach to the lifestyle. During this portion of the contest, the room will be set as a show ring with audience and judges set around the performance area.  Each contestant will enter the ring with a partner of their choosing.  This can be another contestant or it can be someone with whom they have a personal relationship.   The pairs will enter the show ring and perform a preset routine.  This routine will be established by the head judge and contest producer, and will be given to each contestant prior to the Show Presentation segment beginning.  This will include (but is not limited to), the walk onto the ring, a walk around the ring as the puppy is displayed to the audience, a set of commands, and an allotment of time to show the audience the relationship between the pup and Trainer. This can be play time on the mats, a routine, or a training session. This is totally up to the contestants.  The "play time" portion is not expected to exceed 90 seconds.  For the play scene only, a third person may enter the ring to assist.

The set of commands that will be performed during that section are not released to the contestants until the day of the contest. The participants will be wise to take advantage of the supplied practice time to learn the commands together. Puppies will be expected to return to a “stacked” position between each section. This is a symmetrical show pose. Some common commands given would be things like sit, stay, speak, shake hands, roll over. This does not imply that these are the only commands that may be chosen. Some couples choose spoken commands, some choose to use hand signals, and others choose to use a different language. Practice what is comfortable to you.

-Fantasy/Play Presentation:  Some contestants may choose to perform a Fantasy or Play Scene in lieu of the Show Presentation.  These scenes should be 3-5 minutes in length and typically contain music/background tracks.  Due to time constraints, points are deducted after 5 minutes.  There are no microphones furnished, so spoken words are expected to be on the background tracks.  The contestants may have up to two additional people on stage to help with the scene.  The scene can be with another contestant, where both are scored, but this must be disclosed to the contest producer prior to the beginning of the juidged portion of the weekend.  Practice time on the stage will be given, and it is critical that this time be used so that the stage manager and production crew are prepared.  All music/background tracks and props must be given to the production crew during the contestant meeting.  There is no contingency for tardiness on this, as the production crew must be familiar with the content.