Tag: canine good citizen

AKC STAR Puppy Program

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AKC STAR Puppy Testing in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog AcademyAre you a responsible puppy owner? The American Kennel Club’s STAR Puppy program is designed to reward owners who take their puppies to training classes. “STAR” is an acronym for the four critical parts of puppy raising: Socialization, Training, Activity, and Responsibility.

The AKC recognizes that well-trained puppies make better companions and are less likely to be relinquished to shelters. In fact, behavior problems are the #1 reason for giving up a dog to a rescue. The STAR Puppy program is an incentive program for responsible puppy ownership. Working towards this goal will give you and your puppy a head start toward a lifetime of great behavior.

In order to be eligible for testing, puppies need to attend at least 6 group dog training classes with their owner. The program is open to all puppies up to one year of age, regardless of breed or mix.

Once your puppy has attended at least 6 classes with us, we can test your puppy immediately after any of our Flex Classes. It doesn’t take long, and many of the test items can be observed during class time.

STAR Puppy Test Items

The STAR Puppy test consists of “20 Steps to Success,” a total of 20 test items. The first six are owner behaviors, and the other 14 are puppy behaviors. The items are:

Puppy Day School | Puppy Training in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog AcademyOwner Behaviors

1. Maintains puppy’s health (vaccines, exams, appears healthy)

2. Owner receives Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge

3. Owner describes adequate daily play and exercise plan

4. Owner and puppy attend at least 6 classes by an AKC Approved CGC Evaluator

5. Owner brings bags to classes for cleaning up after puppy

6. Owner has obtained some form of ID for puppy-collar tag, etc.

Puppy Behaviors

7. Free of aggression toward people during at least 6 weeks of class

8. Free of aggression toward other puppies in class

9. Tolerates collar or body harness of owner’s choice

10. Owner can hug or hold puppy (depending on size)

11. Puppy allows owner to take away a treat or toy

Pre-Canine Good Citizen Test Behaviors

Puppy Training in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog Academy12. Allows (in any position) petting by a person other than the owner

13. Grooming-Allows owner handling and brief exam (ears, feet)

14. Walks on a Leash-Follows owner on lead in a straight line (15 steps)

15. Walks by other people-Walks on leash past other people 5-ft away

16. Sits on command-Owner may use a food lure

17. Down on command-Owner may use a food lure

18. Comes to owner from 5-ft when name is called

19. Reaction to Distractions-distractions are presented 15-ft away

20. Stay on leash with another person (owner walks 10 steps and returns)

What Comes Next?

After passing the test, owners mail the completed test form to AKC to receive an AKC STAR Puppy Medal, a certificate, and the AKC Puppy Handbook. The STAR Puppy program is a stepping stone to the three tests of the AKC Canine Good Citizen program.

If you have a new puppy, check out our Flex Class program to get started in training classes. You can start any time, and begin working toward your goal of a STAR Puppy!

5 Skills Your Dog Needs to Pass the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test

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Preparing for the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test | Spring Forth Dog Blog

Loose leash walking is one of the most important skills to master before taking the CGC test, because it is a part of several test items.

In last week’s blog post, An Overview of the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test, I described the ten elements of the CGC test. Preparing for this test is key. There are a few specific behaviors that not all “well behaved” dogs know.

Preparing for the CGC Test

The CGC test is designed to reward well-mannered dogs and their owners. The first step towards a well-mannered pet is training. What people consider “polite behavior” does not come naturally to dogs. Sitting politely for greeting, walking on a loose leash, and coming when called are skills that need to be trained step-by-step. A basic obedience class should build the foundation for many of the skills necessary to pass the test.

Some trainers offer group classes specifically geared towards the Canine Good Citizen test. These classes are typically taught by CGC evaluators who will be able to find the weaknesses in your dog’s training and help you overcome them. Practicing the test items each week will also increase your familiarity with the rules, making test day as stress-free as possible. We cover the Canine Good Citizen skills in our Advanced Dog Manners group class.

It’s not impossible to train your dog by yourself to pass the CGC test. If you decide to go that route, study the test items carefully and be sure to practice in public places, such as dog-friendly parks and pet stores, so your dog gets used to performing around the distractions that will be present during the test.

Five Skills to Practice

Preparing for the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test | Spring Forth Dog Academy

Your dog will need to be able to sit and lie down on cue, and hold one of those positions while you walk 20′ away.

I have broken down the elements of the Canine Good Citizen test into several specific behaviors that need to be taught:

A sit-stay: This covers SO many of the test items! A reliable sit-stay will keep your dog in place while you greet a friendly stranger (with or without another dog), while the evaluator brushes her and checks her front feet, the 20′ stay, and the 10′ recall.

Loose leash walking: You’ll need this to walk through a crowd and demonstrate your dog’s ability to stay at your side while you make turns and stop, too.

Down on cue: This is a required part of the test, but your dog does not have to hold a down-stay (as long as you can use your sit-stay for the 20′ stay test).

Come when called: The test only requires a recall from 10′ away. If you’re practicing from greater distances, as well as around distractions, you’ll be golden on test day.

Supervised separation: This is one of the hardest elements of the Canine Good Citizen test for some dogs. You can approach it in two different ways – either as an out-of-sight stay, or by building your dog’s comfort just “hanging out” with a stranger. It all depends on your dog’s temperament and what you prefer to train.

Test Day

To find out about upcoming Canine Good Citizen tests, visit the AKC’s test search page. Alternatively, you can contact a CGC evaluator in your area and inquire about testing. If you’re local, we hold CGC tests in Providence every quarter at Spring Forth Dog Academy.

On the day of the test, make sure your dog is feeling well and appears clean and well-groomed. Bring a leash and a collar or harness for your dog to wear. Don’t forget the brush that you usually use to groom your dog, too! If the test is outdoors, bring along a bowl and some water for your dog as there may not be any available. Give your dog ample opportunities to relieve himself, as you cannot pass the test if your dog eliminates during an exercise.

Be sure to relax and act naturally. Smile at your dog and take a deep breath before starting. Remember, it’s just a test — and if your dog doesn’t pass, there’s always another opportunity to take it.

When your dog passes the CGC test, you will get a copy of the test results from the evaluator. You can send this in to the AKC to receive a certificate to display. The AKC also has collar tags and embroidered patches available to celebrate your dog’s Canine Good Citizen status.

The Next Level

After your dog has passed the Canine Good Citizen test, there are two additional ten-part tests you may choose to take: the Community Canine (CGCA) test, and the CGC Urban (CGCU) test.

The Community Canine test is also known as the “Advanced Canine Good Citizen,” hence the abbreviation CGCA. This test is performed in the “real world” – not in a dog training facility or dog show ring. Distractions are added to each element of the test. (By contrast, dogs taking the CGC test are only tested on two discrete distractions.)

The newest test, Canine Good Citizen Urban, is designed to assess a dog’s suitability for city living. Test elements include city-specific distractions like traffic, skateboarders, construction noise, and food on the sidewalk. The dog and handler team demonstrate their ability to cross streets under control, walk in a public building, and navigate through a crowd on the sidewalk.

Train On!

Whether you decide to just take the original CGC test or aim to complete all three, keep your training sessions short, sweet, and fun for your dog. A lot of owners get tense when they start training with a goal in mind. Others cut out food rewards prematurely since they’re so focused on what is and is not allowed during the test itself. Laugh, relax, and have fun!

An Overview of the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test

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An Overview of the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test | Spring Forth Dog Blog

Every September, the American Kennel Club sponsors Responsible Dog Ownership Days. On that note, I would like to discuss the Canine Good Citizen program, which rewards responsible dog owners across the country. As an approved AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator, I am often asked about the requirements for passing the test. What does it take to become a Canine Good Citizen?

Eligibility

First, the CGC test is open to dogs of any breed or mix of breeds. One of the most common misconceptions is that dogs must be purebred, since the test was created by the American Kennel Club, but that’s not the case. (Did you know that mixed-breed dogs can now compete in AKC performance events like agility, rally, and obedience, too? It’s true!)

There is no age limit for the CGC test. However, AKC now has a separate program just for puppies called S.T.A.R. Puppy. Puppies are eligible for S.T.A.R. until they reach 1 year of age.

Test Overview

The Canine Good Citizen test has ten exercises, and the dog must pass all ten to earn its certificate. The exercises include the following:

Accepting a friendly stranger. During this test item, the dog allows a stranger to approach its handler, and remains neutral while the handler and stranger exchange pleasantries.

Sitting politely for petting. The dog sits and allows a stranger to approach and pet its head and body. The dog can stand up, but may not show “shyness or resentment” (or jump up and give the stranger kisses, which is far more common!).

Appearance and grooming. The dog must appear healthy and well-groomed to pass the test. The evaluator will visually assess the dog, then use a brush provided by the handler to gently groom the dog, check both ears, and pick up both front feet. The dog doesn’t need to hold a specific position during this test item, but does need to cooperate with the evaluation.

Out for a walk. The evaluator observes the dog and handler demonstrate loose-leash walking, with at least one left turn, right turn, about turn, and stop. The dog does not need to be perfectly aligned with its handler, but it must be apparent that the dog is attentive to the handler’s’ cues.

Walking through a crowd. This is similar to the prior test item. The dog and handler must demonstrate loose-leash walking through a group of pedestrian traffic (a group of 3+ people). The dog is allowed to show some interest in the strangers but needs to stay attentive to its owner, without straining at the leash or jumping up.

Sit & down on command and staying in place. To demonstrate the dog’s training, the handler cues the dog to sit and down. The owner then cues the dog to stay in place (either in a sit or a down — handler’s choice) then walks to the end of a 20′ leash, turns around, and comes back. The dog must stay in place until released by the handler, though it does not need to hold the sit/down. Multiple cues are allowed.

Come when called. In this test, the handler leaves the dog and walks 10′ away, then calls it. The handler can encourage the dog towards to come by using verbal cues, crouching down, patting their legs, etc.

Reaction to another dog. This is one of the hardest tests for students to master! Here’s the exact description from the AKC website: “This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.”

Reaction to distraction. The evaluator will pick a couple of random distractions and observe the dog’s reaction. Distractions can be anything the evaluator deems appropriate, such as dropping a book, knocking over a chair, a jogger running past the dog, or opening an umbrella. The dog may show interest in the distraction but should not bark, panic, or try to escape the situation.

Supervised separation. The evaluator takes the dog’s leash, and the owner goes out-of-sight for three minutes. This is another challenging test element. The dog does not have to hold a specific position, but may not panic, bark or whine continuously, or show excessive nervousness. The evaluator is allowed to speak to the dog but cannot pet the dog or excessively comfort it.

The handler is allowed to talk to the dog during all of the test exercises, except for supervised separation as the handler is not present. Food or treats, clickers, toys, and corrective collars are not allowed to be used during the test. A dog that growls, snaps, or bites (directed towards another dog or a human) at any time will be dismissed from the test.

In Monday’s blog post, I will discuss how to prepare for the test, as well as the new higher-level tests in the Canine Good Citizen program.