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You’ve decided to start training your dog for junior showmanship! You know how to be a good sport, and you’re ready to begin working with your dog so that you can enter your first show. Just like with any sport, showing dogs requires practice. Would you join a softball team without knowing on which hand to wear your glove? Of course not. Junior handling is the same—you need to understand the basics of what you’ll be asked to do in the ring. You’re in luck—Leonberger University can help!

First, you should make sure you and your dog are in shape. Can you both run? If your dog has a health problem that makes moving fast or standing for a long time difficult or uncomfortable, it’s not fair to ask them to do something that makes them hurt. Junior handlers and their dogs are athletes, so you’ll be better off if you’re both up to the challenge.

Second, does your dog like to be around other dogs? Dog shows are noisy, crowded and HOT. Most dogs do just fine once they get used to this, but some dogs just don’t like to be at shows. It’s a good idea to take your dog to a show first, just to watch. That way you can see how he handles the noise and excitement. Also, you can see a show in action, and watch others in the ring. It’s a good way to learn what showing is like, and get an idea of what you’ll be doing soon.
It’s time to start training!


To start training your dog for the Juniors ring, you’ll need:


  • A show collar
  • A show lead
  • Tasty treats (dog treats, not cupcakes!) In dog showing, this is called “bait.”
  • A willing friend

You can start training with any collar, but it’s best to start with the collar and leash you’ll use in the show ring so that both you and your dog get used to them. Check example of one sort of show collar and leash.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to put a show collar on a dog. In this video, Molly shows how to put a show collar on her dog, Danika. Molly’s show lead is attached to her collar, so it’s all one piece. Some leads have snaps and are separate from the collars. Both are fine, as long as they fit the dog.