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4-H Dog Project

female 4-H youth with her white dog and their pink rosette

Are you a dog person? Want to learn how to train and handle a dog like a pro? Join the dog project! Youth will learn everything from basic care for a dog to advanced training practices. South Dakota 4-H offers obedience, rally, showmanship, and agility training through county 4-H programs. Ever dreamed of owning a dog? Want to build knowledge without owning a dog? Enroll into the dog project and study the experience of a dog owner. Build knowledge through volunteering, service projects, and creating display exhibits!

Ages and Stages of Youth Development


Beginners start by forming a bond with their dog and teaching basic commands. They will be able to explore breed standards and distinguish parts of a dog. Understand safety concerns when handling dogs.


Juniors teach more advanced skills to their dog and practice off leash. They learn how to correct negative behavior. Research internal anatomy, body system functions, disease and prevention methods, and vital signs of their dog.


Seniors continue to build on obedience commands such as retrieving dumbbells over jumps. They understand dog reproduction and nutritional requirements and can distinguish characteristics between all breeds of dogs.

4-H Programming Priorities


Youth can share their knowledge and skills learned in the dog project with other 4-H members, community members, and civic groups.

Health & Wellness

Dogs promote good health and wellness and can help reduce stress. Involvement keeps youth active by walking and practicing training techniques with their dog.


Youth will learn about dog health signs, dog diseases, and prevention, as well as dog anatomy and functions. They will also explore the nutritional needs of dogs.


Dogs are a valuable tool to agriculture. Youth could explore how dogs are used in livestock production and wildlife management.

Get Involved

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Youth Voice

  • Speech about different dog breeds
  • Illustrated talk on caring for your dog
  • Demonstrate how to make healthy dog treats
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Community Service

  • Volunteer at a pet shelter
  • Visit an assisted living with your dog
  • Assist with obedience classes
  • Raise money for building a local dog park
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Career Connections

  • Dog trainer
  • Groomer
  • Veterinary medicine
  • K-9 police officer
  • Search and rescue officer
  • Pet rescue director
  • Therapy dog handler

Exhibit Ideas

  • Training and showing your dog in different events
  • Educational display on dog care or breeds
  • Compare dog foods and share results with club
  • Interview a veterinarian about microchipping your dog
  • Develop a video about training your dog

4-H youth being talking with judge during dog show

State Dog Show

View contestant resources and results for the State 4-H Dog Show.