Monday, February 28, 2011

AKC Canine Good Citizen

The American Kennel Club (AKC) developed the Canine Good Citizen award as an entry-level certification program.  The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) was developed to reward dogs who have good manners within the community, as well as at home.  Passing this 10-step test will gain you and your dog a certificate from the AKC.  Developed in 1989, the Canine Good Citizen test is often used as a screening process for therapy dogs, and is also used by animal control and police for dealing with problem dogs.  The CGC certification is made up of two main components:
1) Teaching responsible dog ownership
2) Certifying dogs that have been trained and are well-balanced, well-behaved members of their community.

Dogs of any breed or age are eligible for the test (provided they have all their vaccinations).  To participate, owners are required to sign the "Responsible Dog Owner's Pledge."  The CGC test is designed to evaluate the behavior of the dog in everyday situations, and is always held in a non-competitive, relaxed atmosphere.  Use of treats or training equipment and harsh corrections are not allowed during the CGC test.  To pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test and receive your certificate, you must pass all 10 components.

Many local trainers or facilities offer the test at a small fee.
To find a place near you, visit the American Kennel Club.

10 Test Components:
Dogs may be tested by their owner or a handler.

1)  Accepting a Friendly Stranger.  The dog must allow a stranger to approach the owner and engage in friendly conversation.  The dog must not exhibit any sign shyness, nor break his position to greet the person.

2)  Sitting Politely for Petting.  The dog must allow a friendly stranger to touch him.  While sitting at the owner's side, the dog must allow a friendly stranger to touch him without showing shyness.

3)  Appearance & Grooming.  The dog must allow the evaluator (or helper) to groom and examine him.  The dog must appear to be in a healthy condition, and hold his position during the examination.  This component was added because dogs must be comfortable will all kinds of people touching them, such as:  veterinarians, groomers, boarding staff and friend's of the owner.

4)  Out for a Walk (Walking on a Loose Lead).  A path will be presented for the handler to walk with the dog.  The path will include:  at least one stop, a right and left turn, and an about turn.  The dog should be obviously paying attention and closely following the lead of the handler.

5)  Walking through a Crowd.  This part of the test will demonstrate that the dog is under control and capable of politely moving through a crowd.  The dog should not jump or pull on the leash to get to members of the crowd.  The dog must walk with the owner without showing over-interest in anything else.

6)  Sit & Down on Command/ Staying in Place.  This test will demonstrate that the dog has been trained, and will respond to the owner's commands.  The dog must first sit and down on command.  Next the owner will leave the dog in either position and have the dog stay while moving several feet away.  The dog must remain in position until released.

7)  Come when Called.  The owner will walk away from the dog 10 feet and stop, then turn to face the dog and call the dog.  The dog must go directly to the owner without detour.

8)  Reaction to another Dog.  This will demonstrate that the dog can behave and act politely around other dogs.  Starting from a distance of 20 feet apart, two handlers will walk towards each other, stop, shake hands, and then continue on.

9)  Reaction to Distraction.  This will demonstrate that the dog is confident when faced with every-day distractions.  The Evaluator will select and present two different distractions.  These can be things being dropped to make a loud noise, or people moving quickly by (biking or running).  They dog is allowed to appeared startled by must not panic, show aggression, bark, or try to get away.

10)  Supervised Separation.  The owner will go out of the dog's sight for three minutes.  During this time the dog must not wine, bark, pace, or show any kind of nervousness.  The dog must remain with the evaluator, but is not required to stay in any specific position during this time (sit, down, etc.).

Helpful Links:

Dog Stages of Learning

American Kennel Club main page.
Using Positive Reinforcement and Rewards to Train your Dog

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Training Programs

There are several different types of training programs you may be interested in to help train your dog.

Obedience Training means teaching your dog to perform certain specific behaviors on cue.  These include things such as sit, heel, and down.  Just training your dog to perform certain behaviors on cue does not automatically make him a good dog.  A dog needs to be all around well-balanced to be a good member or your family and of society.

Problem Solving is the prevention, curtailment, or elimination of undesired behaviors, or "problem behaviors."  These problems can include things such as:  chewing, jumping, digging, and elimination in the house.

Behavior Modification is the management, curtailment, or elimination of complex and dangerous behaviors.  These include things such as:  separation anxiety, aggression, and phobias.  Dealing with these types of problems takes a patient owner, an owner that will remain calm during these situations, and an owner that is willing to put the time in.  These problems are often times more difficult to deal with for many people, and usually take longer to modify, but is IS possible to train your dog out of these dangerous habits.

Activity Training means teaching a dog a specific activity.  These include things such as:  agility, flyable, herding, and cart pulling.  Many dog training facilities offer several of these activities.  These types of activities are especially helpful to train dogs of certain breeds.  For example, herding breeds enjoy doing herding activities.  Larger breeds such as the Saint Bernard may enjoy cart pulling.  Many different types of breeds can excel at agility.  If your dog is a breed that needs a lot of mental and physical activity on a regular basis, I highly recommend some type of activity training.  Keep in mind that just because your dog is of a breed that usually enjoys herding, that does not mean your dog will love it.  Each dog (just like each person) has their own likes and dislikes.  Your dog should look relaxed and like he's enjoying himself when engaging in any type of activity training.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Breed of the Month--Chihuahua


Color:  Any color, short coat any color, long coat solid-colored markings/ solid color
Height:  6-9 inches
Weight:  Up to 6 lbs
Life Span:  15 years or more

Breed Health Concerns:  eye problems, patellar lunation, seizure, collapsing trachea, hypoglycemia, pulmonary stenosis.

Coat:  Long and short coat types, both types can be double or single coat...smooth, soft, silky
Country of Origin:  Mexico

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

The Chihuahua is the smallest and oldest breed on the American continent.  It is believed that travelers from Spain brought the beginnings of this breed, mixing them with hairless breeds, making the Chihuahua of today.  The Chihuahua is one of the most popular toy breeds today.

The Chihuahua is affectionate, lively, playful, and alert.  He will bond quickly with his family and must be properly socialized so strangers will not intimidate and frighten him.

Small and easy to transport, the Chihuahua is a favorite choice for many Americans.  It is important that even these small dogs still learn rules, boundaries, and basic manners.  Many people let these little dogs get away with a lot of bad behaviors because they think it looks cute or funny coming from such a small little dog.  It's not cute, and it's not funny!  It is very important to teach these dogs proper manners and socialization.  I have also found this breed to be very susceptible to anxiety.  The Chihuahua owner would do well to create a nice calm home life and give their dog plenty of regular exercise to keep this from becoming a problem.

The Chihuahua can be prone to short little bursts of energy.  An easy daily walk and following his owners around are usually enough exercise for this breed.  It is important to give the Chihuahua several little play sessions each day.

The shorthaired Chihuahua is easily kept clean with regular brushing and bathing.  The longhaired version needs more attention, including trimming.  All Chihuahuas must be kept clean around their eyes and ears.

Positive, fun, upbeat training is necessary to keep the Chihuahua'a attention.  This breed can be difficult to potty training.  Never use punishment or harsh tones with this breed.  Socialization is especially important to keep the Chihuahua comfortable in all situations throughout his lifetime.