Article Index


It’s time to enter the ring for your first class! You and your dog have practiced and are both looking your best. NOW what happens?

You should get to the ring about five or ten minutes early and pick up your number, if you don’t already have it. It’s important to numberknow that you ALWAYS wear your number on your left arm, above the elbow, secured with an elastic band or in a number holder. Your number is the same one your dog is assigned in the Show Catalog. Here, Hannah Baber and her pal Yoshi show how to wear a dog show number. number

Here’s how a junior showmanship class will unfold:
First, the Ring Steward will call the class into the ring by reading off the catalog numbers in order. Make sure you have your dog’s favorite bait and are in the correct order when you go into the ring! Also, leave space between your dog and the dog in front of you. Don’t crowd! Set your dog up, and make sure he’s stacked and paying attention to you.

Next, the judge might ask all the dogs to gait around the ring, staying in line. But be careful! The dog in front of you might be much smaller and slower than your dog! Be sure to wait and leave enough space so you can move your dog at a trot without running up behind the dog in front of you.

Entering the Ring

After you go around the ring, the judge will stop the group. When this happens, immediately set your dog up by stacking his feet and getting his attention. The judge will be watching, and you want to show him how beautiful your dog is! Also, always remember to smile and make eye contact with the judge. That shows him or her that you are confident and know what to do, and also that you’re having fun with your dog!

At this point, the judge might split the class, or re-arrange the line according to size, with bigger, faster dogs in the front and smaller, slower-moving dogs at the end of the line. Just pay attention and move where he asks, setting your dog up again quickly.

Now the judge is ready to start examining each individual dog. Be alert! When the judge is going over the dog in front of you, be ready to move up and take your place when he’s ready to look at your dog.

Here’s where that stacking and gaiting practice you did will pay off! The judge will start at your dog’s head, looking at the expression, eyes, teeth, shoulders and front legs. Then the judge will examine the back, rear legs and tail of your dog. Your dog should stay still during the examination. It’s a good thing you practiced that “stay!” command!

Judging Your Dog

Next, the judge will ask you to do a pattern. Sometimes the pattern will be just a simple “Down and Back” or sometimes it will be a more complex pattern like an “L to the Left” or a “Triangle.” If you’ve studied the patterns here in the Leonberger University Junior Showmanship course and then watched the junior handlers who have gone ahead of you, you’ll be confident and able to execute the pattern. Don’t forget the courtesy turn before you start off on the pattern! Also, it’s really important to keep your dog on the mats! Use them as a guide to help you gait in a straight line, with the dog in the middle of the mat where the judge can see him. You’ll end up back in front of the judge, with your dog standing and watching you. Then the judge will thank you and send you back around the ring to take your place at the end of the line while the judge moves on to the next competitor.

Taking a Courtesy Turn

Moving Your Dog

When the judge has examined each junior and their dog, he will usually send the whole group around the ring again. Remember to make eye contact with the judge, and keep your dog in the middle of the mat. It’s your final opportunity to show off your beautiful dog! When you stop, quickly stack your dog and watch the judge.

Now the moment you’ve been waiting for—the judge’s decision! Sometimes he’ll pull out four competitors. This is called “making a cut.” He might dismiss the rest of the class, thanking them for coming. Hopefully you’ll be one of the juniors who made the cut and are still in the ring! If you are, that means the judge thinks you did a good job handling and presenting your dog. It also means he’s considering you for a placement in the class! Be alert and don’t stop showing your dog! Use your bait to keep your dog’s interest. The judge will thank you for coming and announce his winner, as well as the second, third and fourth place winners. If you’re not the first place winner, be sure to shake the hand and congratulate the winner. This shows excellent sportsmanship and is good manners.

Line Up


If you won first place, you must stay outside the ring and wait for the “Best Junior” competition. After all the Junior Showmanship classes have been completed, the winner of each class then goes back in to compete against the other winners for the “Best Junior” ribbon. “Best Junior” classes are run just like a regular Junior Showmanship class. However, unlike a regular Junior Showmanship class, only ONE ribbon is awarded. Hopefully, that ribbon goes to YOU!

But if you don’t win, don’t give up! Keep practicing, and try again at a future show. ALL kids who work with their dogs are winners, no matter what a judge says!

At most dog shows, photographers are there to take pictures of the class BOBwinners. You can have your picture taken even if you don’t win, and it’s a fun way to remember your dog show. Ask your parents first, as you must purchase the pictures if you want to keep them. Here’s an example of a show photograph:

Some things the judge will be looking for are:
• Do you and your dog look neat, clean and professional?
• Are you and your dog working as a team?
• Is your dog looking at you, interested in you, and wanting to please you?
• Do you have your dog under control at all times?
• Are you moving your dog well?
• Are you and your dog relaxed and smiling?
• Are you displaying good sportsmanship?

Congratulations! Your first show is behind you, and you’re now a junior handler! You and your dog have lots more adventures ahead of you, whether in the ring, in your backyard, or with lots of friends at Leonberger picnic. Don’t stop with just junior showmanship. There are lots of ways to compete with your Leonberger—obedience, Rally-O, drafting, agility, and so many more. Check back here, at Leonberger University, for more informative classes about fun events you can share with your Leonberger. And don’t forget, it’s all about having fun!