Does your child have an innate passion for dogs? Do you to want to empower him/her with life-long skills about being responsible and a good sport – whether winning or losing? Put him/her on the path of Junior Showmanship (also called “Junior Handling”), a sport for young people where they show off their dog handling skills. In fact, your child might love it so much it might even be a possible career path!
Step 1: Observe a Junior Showmanship Competition
If you or your child hasn’t actually seen a Junior Showmanship competition in person, we highly recommend that you observe one. You will see how children take part and interact with each other, the strong friendships they’ve developed, and how they handle their wins and losses. We are confident you’ll be impressed by their knowledge, attitudes and willingness to share their experiences with those new to the sport.
Step 2: Sign Up for Classes at Your Local AKC Club
Many clubs offer weekly handling classes for Juniors, often at no charge. They are informal and take place in a relaxed atmosphere where your child can practice in a setting similar to an actual show. Find a club and class near you.
Instructors teach dog-handling skills, and introduce your child to the world of dog shows, and the elements of good sportsmanship. Anyone aged 9 and under 18 who has an AKC junior showmanship handler number is eligible to take a class. (Need a number? Fill out this form Junior Number Request and send to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Junior classes are organized by age:
Most AKC clubs offer two types of classes for each age range:
- Novice classes are for beginners to gain experience and confidence in the ring. To qualify, participants can’t have won more than two first-place awards at a licensed or member show at the time entries close. And to qualify as a win, more than one child must be in the competition.
- Open classes are for more seasoned young handlers to compete against each other. To qualify, participants must have won three or more first-place awards.
Step 3: Try Competing
Once your child has found a love for dog handling, it’s time for his/her first competition.Unlike events for adults, your dog isn’t the main focus in a Junior Showmanship competition—your child is. Judges look at the quality of their presentation in the ring and how well he/she handles and presents your dog, using the same guidelines as adults who compete in the ring. To enter, speak with your local AKC club and find an event near you.