Dog Skillathon

Date:  Wednesday, August 21, 2024

Location:  Coliseum, NYS Fairgrounds, Syracuse, NY

This skillathon is an educational activity to test youths' dog science knowledge. Youth also gain experience in decision making to further their success with canines. A state level activity was initiated for the first time in 2011 during the NYS 4-H Dog Show in Syracuse, NY. The following description and resources are shared for planning county level skillathons. Activities generally consist of youth rotating through different stations.


  • Encourage youth to share and test their knowledge and skills at a local or state Skillathon contest.
  • To provide youth the opportunity to expand their knowledge about dogs.
  • To recognize youth for their comprehension of different aspects of care and how dogs can benefit society.


Below are some suggested topics used for skillathon stations. Format of questions can be matching games, multiple choice, short answers, or a demonstration of skill etc. Questions can be asked with visual aids such as models, microscopic slides, pictures, or computer screens. To simplify scoring, a point system divisible by 2 or 10 is suggested. For example, 10 stations x 10 points per station = 100 points. Each station should take less than 4 minutes to complete. Teen or adult facilitators at each station are helpful to keep things moving smoothly and keep score.

Animal Behavior, Care, Safety, and Restraint

  • How to properly restrain a dog using a dog model
  • How to trim nails/ clean ears/ look for fleas
  • How to maintain clean and sanitary conditions for dog
  • How to groom your dog and muzzle a dog
  • Identify equipment such as collars, leashes, and different grooming tools
  • Demonstrate knowledge of specific Canine science vocabulary
  • Understand the body language of a dog
  • Identify internal and external parasites
  • List characteristics of a healthy dog-normal body temp, pulse, respiration, etc.
  • Identify the external anatomy of your dog
  • Identify common canine diseases
  • Explain how diseases are transmitted and how they can be prevented
  • Identify toxins
  • Perform first aid for dogs
  • Identify different breeds
  • Demonstrate understanding of the history, purpose, and nutritional needs of certain breeds
  • Identify different types of ears, tails, and coats
  • Understand show regulations for different breeds
  • Identify famous canines
  • Identify dogs with jobs such as guard dogs, sled dogs, service dogs, etc.
  • Match fun facts about dogs in general or certain breeds
  • Nutrition and Feeds for different ages and stages
  • Housing, Facilities, and Training for different canine sports
  • Genetics, Reproduction, and Management of breeding animals
  • Records Management
  • New Technology such as GPS, electronic training apps etc.


  • All youth from different counties are eligible to participate. Dog ownership is not required.
  • Youth will be divided into 2 divisions depending on their own assessment of their skills.
  • The 2 divisions are Beginner (2 years or less in the 4-H dog program) and Advanced (over 2 years in the dog program).

Contest Awards

  • All participants receive recognition.
  • All participants who take the challenge receive ribbons, collectable dog pins, or other appropriate recognition.
  • High scoring individuals may be given further recognition through a brief article on a 4-H website.

For more information

Contact Kathi Chambliss at chamblisk [at] (chamblisk[at]gmail[dot]com)