Reprinted with permission from AKC Family Dog, March/April, 2007.
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To help owners better discharge the responsibilities that accompany the joys of dog ownership, the AKC developed its Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program. It's a noncompetitive certification program that helps people become responsible dog owners.
To become a Canine Good Citizen, a dog must pass a 10-step test of canine good manners: he must be trained to walk on a loose leash, navigate through a crowd, come when called, sit for petting, welcome examination and grooming from a third party, accept friendly strangers, obey sit and down commands, behave well around other dogs, handle distractions, and cope with separation from his owner.
You and your dog can work with your local dog club or a private trainer to prepare for the test. Once your canine partner has mastered the 10 commands, an AKC-approved CGC evaluator can test him at a dog event in your area.
Love Makes CGC's World go 'Round
CGC has been one of the most popular AKC programs since its inception in 1989. Each year, over 9,000 evaluators nationwide test approximately 40,000 purebred and mixed-breed dogs. CGC classes and testing are offered by many AKC clubs and in more than 900 PerSmart stores.
Many novice dog-sport participants choose CGC as the first step in their training regimen. The program lays the foundation for participation in such competitive events as obedience, agility, tracking, rally, hunt rests, and field trials. Even champion show dogs have benefited from a CGC refresher course in good manners.
Countries around the world have developed CGC programs based on the AKC model. Closer to home, state legislatures recognize CGC as a means of advocating responsible dog ownership. Thirty-five states, and the U.S. Senate, have formally endorsed CGC with resolutions.
Police and animal-control agencies use CGC for dealing with dog problems in communities, some therapy-dog groups utilize CGC as a partial screening tool, and 4-H groups have been using CGC as a beginning dog-training program for children.
The program's wide and expanding popularity isn't hard to explain. People love their dogs and want to strengthen the bond by bringing them along on family outings and vacations, and to recreational areas and the workplace. CGC training makes it possible.
Despite CGC's longstanding success, there was always one way in which it was less than perfect: CGC evaluators report that by the time they see 1-year-old dogs in classes, many have already developed bad habits and their owners are frustrated. Responding to evaluator requests for a puppy level of CGC, the American Kennel Club has launched AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy.
S.T.A.R. stands for what every puppy needs-Socialization, Training, Activity, and a Responsible owner.
The AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy program honors pops and their owners who complete puppy or basic training classes of at least six weeks in length, taught by CCC evaluators.
Organized training classes will teach you how to best communicate with your puppy, and will provide him an opportunity to socialize with other dogs. In classes geared toward earning AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy distinction, you will get resolution to such puppy-raising issues as housetraining and chewing, and you will learn the most effective way to teach practical skills, like responding to the all-important come-when-called command. S.T.A.R. Puppy training also serves as a natural lead-in to Canine Good Citizen testing.
Dr. Mary Burch, director of AKC Canine Good Citizen, says, "An estimated 90 percent of dogs who are relinquished to shelters have had no training, and we want to get all puppies and their owners off to a good S.T.A.R."
S.T.A.R. Puppy is open to purebred and mixed-breeds, and defines a puppy as a dog up to 1 year old. Burch says, "We want to do our part to ensure all puppies and their owners have a wonderful life together."
Make Your Pup a S.T.A.R.
Enroll your puppy in a training class taught by an AKC-approved evaluator. "We believe that approved evaluators who are puppy instructors have the skills needed to give puppies a good foundation for CGC training," Burch says. The program allows pups to be tested in collars, body harnesses, and head collars, and you may use food or toys as lures and rewards during the test.
Evaluators plan their own classes and use their own training methods. After training and observing the puppy for at least six weeks, the evaluator administers the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy test in class. After you pass the test you can enroll in the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy program, and your S.T.A.R. puppy will be listed in the AKC's official records.
Also, you will receive:
- A gold Olympics-style dog medallion bearing the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy seal, and a S.T.A.R. Puppy certificate suitable for framing.
- The AKC New Puppy Handbook, packed with everything you should know about raising your pup: housetraining, crate training, grooming, nutrition, a firstyear timeline, and more.
- Discount enrollment in AKC Companion Animal Recovery
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