Today’s kids hold the future of our breed in their hands. It is our responsibility to encourage and guide them so that they can continue to improve and protect our precious Griffons. In a rare breed, more than most, this is CRITICAL. AWPGA encourages young people to work with their Griffons in many different arenas.
As a pet and companion, a Griffon can teach a child the value of love and respect for another creature. With adult guidance, they can learn responsibility, consistency, patience, trust, and empathy.
Children who hunt or track with their family and their Griffon learn the importance of training consistently and regularly, the appreciation of nature and conservation of wildlife. Their marksmanship, patience, and ability to work as a team with their dogs will serve them well as they grow. Measuring their skills as trainers of hunting dogs at AKC Hunt Tests, or working with young dogs at a NAVHDA test will encourage them to continue to hone their skills and that of their Griffon.
Young people who participate in obedience will learn precision, focus, how to work towards a clearly outlined set of goals, and the value of a close working relationship with their dog. They will learn the value of regular training and commitment. Most importantly, they will learn about the joys of accomplishing a goal as a team, and the reality of a frustrating near miss. From this will come the ability to analyze what components of their own and their dog’s training methods need to be altered to achieve their goal.
Agility is a NATURAL choice for active young people and their equally active Griffon buddies! All of that running, signaling, climbing, and jumping is actually an exercise (and we mean EXERCISE!) in forethought, planning ahead, clear communication of expectations, and gentle, step-by-step training methods of how to coach a canine athlete to achieve what you want.
Junior Showmanship is a popular arena in the sport of dogs, where kids are encouraged to shine. This test of a young person’s ability to present a dog to its best advantage in the breed ring teaches not only handling skills, but also the value of practice and the ability to conduct oneself in a sportsmanlike manner in a competitive situation. Kids learn about structure, type, and how to apply what they’ve learned about their breed standard to their dog. They learn to condition, train, groom, and present a dog with confidence and style. And to both win and lose graciously.
American Kennel Club has, for a long time, provided competitive Junior Showmanship classes specifically for young people. Recently, they have also begun to recognize kids who are successfully competing in obedience and agility events as well! Juniors (children between the ages of 10 and until their 18th birthday) must handle dogs that they, themselves or their immediate family own. Juniors are expected to have done the majority of the training work that brought this dog to where he/she is. Juniors titling dogs in obedience or agility are awarded a certificate of accomplishment. Young people interested in competing in Junior Showmanship classes at licensed shows are encouraged to do so. In order to compete in any junior specific AKC event, you must request a Junior Identification number from the AKC. For more information on this, visit the AKC’s Junior FAQ Site! And the answer to the most frequently asked question about juniors is “YES! You CAN show a spayed/neutered dog in juniors!”