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Community Canine

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The American Kennel Club(AKC) has fairly recently created a new level of their Community Canine Program. There are now three levels, the first being the STAR Puppy class, which is a 6 week course for owner and puppies under the age of 1. The second is a test called the Canine Good Citizen Test, which is a basic good maners test for dog and owner. Now they have added the Advanced Canine Good Citizen, which is another test that is more difficult.
The test begins the moment you enter sight of the examiners, and this is, again, a test for not only your dog, but you as well. You begin by filling out the paperwork, not so different from the CGC test, the dog must remain sitting and calm while you do this.
Next we move on to a loose leash walk. Keep in mind that if you hold the leash tight then you fail this portion, just as if the dog was pulling. Its a safe bet to just make sure there is a loop between you and the dog, that is to say, the leash does not form a straight line to your dogs neck.
The second part of walking and the third item on the test is a walk through a crowd. There should be no jumping, pulling, or tangling up of peoples legs. Immagine you are walking down the sidewalk of Saratoga Springs, which incedentally, is great practice since Saratoga is a very dog friendly community.
The final part of the walk, and the 4th item on the test is walking past a disctration, again without pulling, you will walk by the distraction no further than two feet away from it.
The 5th item on the tests moves away from walking and now we perform a sit stay in a small group, at least 3 other people with dogs. The dog should be in the heel position(on the left side) about three feet from the nearest person or dog while the owners have a conversation. Not so different from what might happen walking down the street in Saratoga when you meet some friends.
Next someone will approach to ask if they could pet your dog, the trick is, they will be carrying something, a backpack or briefcase or similar item, and they will set it down before petting the dog. Your dog should remain calm and allow the person to pet them without trying to eat the backpack.
For those of you that have participated in Rally, the next part is easy. A simple leave-it as you walk by, and almost over some food. If they get the food, they fail this part of the exam. This could be dog food, treats, or some people food, so you'll really want to work on this to make sure they are solid on leave-it before going to the test. One trainer did so well that she can set her dinner on the floor in front of her dogs with steak and they would leave it, if you can do that, you are ready for anything.
The 8th section of the test is a down or sit stay, your choice, with some distance. You will have to change leashes to a 20 foot long line, and walk the length of the line away, pick something up, and return to your dog without them breaking the stay. A down stay would probably work a little better since once in a down, dogs are much less likely to get up to follow you.
Remember in the CGC you had to do a recall from 6 feet away? Well in this test they more than double it. While you are on that 20 foot line you will have to go out to the end of it and call your dog to you. Much more difficult right? But wait, there's more. You also get this handy dandy distraction out to the side that your dog must ignore. Sounds like fun right?
Last, but not least is going through a door way. Think of a narrow opening that both you and your dog cannot go thorugh side by side, thats what they are looking for here. You have a choice, of having your dog go through first, and you must send them, not a simple pull you through the door, or have the dog wait until you are through and then follow behind you. For this part, the dog must not pull, push, or jerk you around, after all, you might be carrying a piping hot cup of coffee without a top on it, that would hurt if it got spilled on you, wouldn't it?
If you think that you are ready for this new advanced test any dog can take it as long as they have passed the CGC level. If you would like your dog to have a fancy shmancy title though, they must be registered with the AKC. Got a mixed breed or a designer dog? Don't fret, even your lovable mutt can be registered with the AKC to compete in performance events and earn Obedience, Rally, Tracking, Herding, or any other type of performance title, just not Conformation Championships.
If you would like to find out more information, or need to find a test or evaluator near you you can check out AKC.org. Click the “Dog Owners” link at the top of the screen, and then the Community Canine link.

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