Socialization, Training, Activity, and Responsibility (S.T.A.R.) - The American Kennel Club recently designed a program for puppies (purebred or mixed breed) up to the age of one year. The program consists of a mandatory six weeks of training for pups and their owners. It is a fun program, and there are some obvious benefits to participation. Puppies that attend the program become well-socialized and learn skills that become the foundation for all other learning.
Our class at GPCDFA is for six weeks with one makeup session. The club offers one makeup session because one absence per team (puppy and human) due to health issues or emergencies can be allowed. This class helps puppy owners to communicate with their puppies. It concentrates on modifying puppy behavior with treats and toys to teach all the elements in the S.T.A.R. Program, and the handlers are encourage to praise and interact positively with their dogs.
The class incorporates all 20 test items into the class’ framework. The 20 items are separated into three categories: Owner Behaviors, Puppy Behaviors, and Pre-Canine Good Citizen Test Behaviors. The first sets of tests are for our puppy owners. They encourage the first-time puppy owner or those who have not had a puppy in a long time to be responsible dog owners.
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.
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 items:
12. 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 5ft 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).
In our classes, owners regularly brag about and chat about their puppies to others in the class, and many arrange play dates with other dogs in the class. It’s great to see people being proud of and bonding with their puppies. Developing this magical bond that will last a lifetime is the goal of our class.
The puppy and owner who pass all of these criteria are awarded a medal and certificate, both suitable for display.
For more information on the AKC STAR Puppy program, visit AKC website.
AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Training and Certificate program – The CGC class is appropriate for people looking for a well mannered dog in their home and in public places. This certification program from the American Kennel Club (AKC) encourages owners to be responsible for their dog’s behavior, well-being, and good citizenship throughout its life.
Training a dog to pass the CGC should be a fun and bonding experience for both the dog and the human. Well-trained dogs also behave better in general, and a CGC assures that the dog will be welcomed and respected around the house, around guests, and throughout our communities.
The CGC training can be the beginning of a beautiful life with your dog or even the launch pad for pursuing other activities such as Agility, Obedience, Tracking, etc., or perhaps even to becoming a Therapy dog.
The Canine Good Citizen Program is a two-part program that stresses responsible pet ownership for owners and basic good manners for dogs. All dogs who pass the 10-step CGC test may receive a certificate from the American Kennel Club.
The CGC test and title can only be formally administered and conferred by someone who is an official AKC Evaluator authorized to test dogs for the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title. GPCDFA has several volunteer Evaluators.
After the owner signs the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge, their dog is ready to take the CGC Test. Items on the Canine Good Citizen Test include:
Test items in the dog’s portion of the test:
1. Accepting a friendly stranger
2. Sitting politely for petting (no jumping)
3. Allowing grooming
4. Out for a walk on a loose leash
5. Walking politely through a crowd
6. Sit and down on command and stay
7. Coming when called
8. Behaving politely around other dogs
9. Reaction to distractions
10. Supervised separation from handler
As far as the owner’s test items, the owner must pledge to take responsibility for their dog’s health, safety, and quality of life and to not allow their dog to infringe upon the rights of others, such as by roaming the neighborhood or leaving dog waste uncollected (yes, you have to scoop the poop—all the time, every time).
The dog and owner who pass all of these criteria are eligible to order CGC merchandise such as a collar tag, patch, and certificate for display. If the dog is AKC-registered, the title “CGC” is added to the dog’s name.
Rally is a canine sport in which the dog and handler complete a course that has been designed by the rally judge. The judge tells the handler to begin, and the dog and handler proceed at their own pace through a course of designated stations (10 - 20, depending on the level). Each of these stations has a sign providing instructions regarding the next skill that is to be performed. An example of a sign in the novice level is “Sit/Down Walk Around Dog”. Throughout the course the handler heels with their dog. Scoring is not as rigorous as traditional obedience and the handler may talk to their dog throughout the course and give multiple hand and verbal cues.
Rally is a good stepping stone into continued obedience training, and a great opportunity to have fun with your dog while building a great relationship.
GPCDFA offers classes in Rally to teach you the skills needed to earn Rally titles and to practice running rally courses. There are three main titles that can be achieved; Novice, Advanced and Excellent. Each is more difficult than the previous, similar to achieving a higher education.
Competition obedience is a canine sport that tests your dog’s ability to perform a series of exercises working with you as a team. The exercises consist of heeling, sit and down stays, stand for examination, retrieving, directed jumping, recalls, scent work, etc.
There are three AKC levels of regular obedience classes:
Novice (CD title)
Open (CDX title)
Utility (UD title)
Each level is more difficult than the previous, similar to achieving a higher education.
There are four AKC optional titling obedience classes:
Beginner Novice (BN title)
Graduate Novice (GN title)
Graduate Open (GO title)
Versatility (VER title)
There are nine AKC levels of non-regular obedience classes (no titles):
Wild Card Novice
Wild Card Open
Wild Card Utility
Obedience Advanced Teamwork
AKC also offers advance titles that requires multiple qualifying score and placements which earned points:
Obedience Trial Championship (OTCH title)
Utility Dog Excellent (UDX title)
Obedience Master title (OM# title)
Obedience Grand Master (OGM title)
National Obedience Championship (NOC title)
Versatile Companion Dog (VCD# title)
Versatile Companion Champion (VCCH title)
GPCDFA offers classes in Competition Obedience to teach you the skills needed to earn regular, optional, and non-regular obedience titles.
Greater Panama City Dog Fanciers’ Association