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10 Easy Steps to Support Juniors in AKC Events

10 Easy Steps to Support Juniors in AKC Events

The American Kennel Club is actively seeking to attract, engage, and retain Juniors and young adults in the purebred fancy. Juniors are our future. Attracting Juniors brings new exhibitors to the sport in Conformation, Companion, and Performance events, builds and revives our breeder base, delivers the AKC message, and reaches new audiences to introduce them to the sport of dogs, adding new enthusiasts to the fancy and to our clubs. See how you and your club can help.

1. Reduced or No Entry Fee for Juniors

One way in which clubs have been successful at attracting a Junior entry is by offering Junior Showmanship classes at a reduced rate or for no entry fee. The AKC does not collect a recording fee for Junior Showmanship. The Super will still charge the club and this will be absorbed by the club.

2. Offer the Best of the Best Junior for your Cluster

We’ve heard positive feedback from clubs offering the Best of the Best Junior for a cluster. A variety of clubs throughout the country have shared news about the great success they have experienced and the excitement generated. Best of the Best Junior could be adapted to any Companion or Performance event.

3. Present Scholarships to the Best Junior

Attract more Junior entries at your shows by offering an Educational Scholarship to the Best of the Best or Best Junior, and potentially, the Runner-up Junior. Scholarships are for educational purposes only. The club must pay the money won directly to a school in the future and someone must keep records for the club.

4. Schedule Junior Showmanship Strategically

Clubs are having success with strategically scheduling Juniors and are discovering that holding them right before Groups is an optimum time to showcase the Juniors classes. This way there are more folks around the ring who can cheer for the Juniors. Having an audience supporting from ringside elevates the Juniors class and the importance of Junior Showmanship.

5. Wow your Juniors with Large Rosettes

Juniors have given us feedback and expressed their love of large rosettes. So, maybe instead of a prize, or in addition to an award, consider providing rosettes to the winners. From the mouths of babes…

6. Hold a Special Attraction Geared to Juniors

  • Junior Showcase Event

Offer a Junior Showcase event. Junior Showcase events are meant to attract Juniors competing in Obedience, Rally, or Agility. They can also be offered to 4-H groups. Clubs have found these events to be family-friendly, have the ability to reach new audiences that may not be competing in AKC events, and be inviting, encouraging the Juniors and their parents to attend another show.

  • Junior Judging Special Attraction

The Junior Judging program is designed to encourage and empower young people to develop the ability to learn the tools and knowledge to understand conformation characteristics in general for all breeds, and as they progress, to learn the nuances of specific breeds.

As breeders and exhibitors, we are constantly assessing and evaluating the dogs that we are breeding as well as the dogs with whom we compete against in the Conformation ring. Holding a Junior Judging Special Attraction provides Juniors the opportunity to have experience placing dogs in a correct order in a Conformation setting.

  • Pee Wee Special Attraction

Consider a Pee Wee Special Attraction at your show to engage our younger generations. It is a fantastic way to include young children between the ages of 5 and 9 years old and their families.

Additionally, some clubs offer a special attraction allowing children younger than 5 years of age to “show” their stuffed/toy dogs. To hold these events, clubs complete a Special Attractions Form.

7. Offer AKC Registered Handler Program (RHP) Seminar

These are informal FREE clinics, conducted by AKC Registered Handlers Program members, and open to anyone under the age of 18 who is interested in learning more about handling. The exact times and ring locations are posted at the superintendent’s desk on the day of the event. No pre-registration is necessary. Participants show up with a dog on a lead, ready for some hands-on instruction from professional handlers. Mixed breed dogs are welcome.

8. Seeking Junior Breeder Mentors

The AKC and the Juniors Committee are actively seeking Mentors and Advisors for Junior Breeders. It is critical to attract, engage, and retain Juniors’ involvement in breeding. They are our future and will be shepherding in the next generations of our fancy. Without the “next generation” of breeders, there won’t be a “next generation” of dogs.

  • We are looking for Juniors who are experienced in breeding to advise/mentor other Juniors.
  • We are also seeking Breeders of all ages, whether you came up through Juniors or not, to mentor Juniors who are currently breeding or who are new but interested in breeding.
  • Contact: [email protected].

9. Share Articles with Us!

In an effort to reach out to as many kids and their parents as possible, and to demonstrate the value of being part of Junior Showmanship, the Juniors Committee and AKC are actively producing and seeking articles written by Juniors as well as those written by adults about Juniors.

Send us articles from Juniors, or the names and contact info of Juniors who are participating and achieving success in Junior events of all types. We want to share their positive experiences. Send to: [email protected].

10. Assign Your Junior Coordinator!

To help attain our goal of creating our next generation of fanciers, the AKC Board approved a new role for clubs: The Junior Coordinator. This is the volunteer who advocates for Juniors, shares information from AKC to the clubs, and works within their club to develop ways to attract a Junior membership and promote Juniors at the shows and events as well as in their communities.

Select your club’s volunteer now! Just email their name and contact details to: [email protected].

For details and more information on holding these events and all things Juniors, please refer to: & Events/Junior Resources ( Any questions, email: [email protected].