Here is a link to some of my favorite scent work ever!
Here is a link to some of my favorite scent work ever!
Congratulations to Connecticut K-9 Officers “Saint Michael” of the Newtown Police Department and “Trent” of the Orange Police Department for passing AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test! The law enforcement K-9 officers took the 10-step test at the Trap Falls Kennel Club’s AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day event at Eisenhower Park in Milford, CT on Saturday, Sept. 27th.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal presented Saint Michael, handled by Newtown Officer Felicia Figol, and Trent, handled by Orange Officer Mary Bernegger, their official CGC medals and ribbons at a ceremony in front of hundreds of dog-loving spectators, local specialty clubs holding a meet the breeds exhibit, and TFKC members who hosted the well-attended public event.
After the awards ceremony Saint Michael, Officer Figol, and Newtown Police Officer Matt Hayes, gave a demonstration of police work and K-9 training with Saint Michael.
Saint Michael, the German Shepherd Dog, was purchased last year by the AKC family of clubs, including Trap Falls Kennel Club, Newtown Kennel Club, Farmington Kennel Club, as well as with donations from AKC Reunite and the AKC Humane Fund. Trent, a black Labrador Retriever, is a narcotics detection dog with the Orange Police Department.
The Canine Good Citizen Program is designed to reward dogs who have good manners at home and in the community. The two-part program stresses responsible dog ownership for owners and basic good manners for dogs–all dogs– including police K9s.
The person may have been trained as a computer programmer, or insurance salesperson, or is returning from the military. Most often, the dog training “experience” consists of, “We always had dogs. Since I was seven years old, I’ve helped my family and friends with their dogs.” Then they say, “So, I would like to be a dog trainer and teach other people…where do I start?”
It may sound overly simple, but I believe the first two steps are: 1) Get a dog. 2) Train it. “Train it,” means “train it to a recognized standard having been taught by a qualified professional.” Start with training your own dog to pass the CGC test. Then choose another more advanced goal such as teaching the skills for beginning rally, obedience, agility, etc.
Personally, I believe when someone wants to become a dog trainer, earning titles is a good way to go. “My dog doesn’t need a title to show he is smart,” and, “I don’t need the feather in my cap of a title,” are comments we sometimes hear. The benefit of earning titles if you want to become a professional trainer–a trainer who is going to teach other people to train their dogs, is that titles serve as YOUR bonafides. For example, tell me you have trained a dog that has earned the CDX in obedience and I know you have successfully trained a dog to work off-leash in the presence of three different judges in three different settings. Behaviorally, we say you have demonstrated the ability to teach off-leash skills that have generalized to settings other than the dog’s own back yard.
“Well, I can’t have a dog right now.” If you want to become a piano virtuoso, there’s no way around it. You need a piano. If you want to become a good dog trainer, and you want to dispense training advice to others, you need to have quality experience actually training dogs. (Giving advice to family members when you were seven years old does not count). If you aren’t in a position to get a dog, consider volunteering for a shelter dog training program.
There are some other things you can do to develop dog trainer skills including join an AKC training club, join a dog trainer’s organization, go to seminars, and start reading about training. And while they may be a very important part of your professional development, these activities alone are not enough. They will only add to your knowledge about training. Knowledge = things you know.
Dog training is very much a motor skill. Motor skills = things you do involving movements and muscles—how you walk, how you hold a leash, how you hold your body when you call the dog to come. The only way to develop motor skills is by DOING the activity, and being shaped on by an instructor with skills, not reading about it. Dog training is a motor skill just like tennis and golf. Imagine how well you’d play tennis if all you had done was read about it and go to seminars.
So, when I get the question from someone who wants to start teaching others to train their dogs, I try to be kind and patient. I try to educate the person and make a difference. I say a lot, but if I had to summarize it, I’d say, “Get a dog. Train it.”
It’s one of the most commonly reported behavioral concerns of CGC and AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy dog owners. The complaint is that the dog is “hyper” or “too active.”
In most cases, the problem is really that the dog owner needs some education and the dog may need a more suitable daily schedule and exercise plan.
Here are some tips for the owner of the energetic dog that is hard to calm down.
1. Know your breed
“My dog is too active and won’t settle down at night when we watch television,” said one dog owner who called the CGC department. After asking some questions, we learned that the dog was a Border Collie whose owners worked all day. When they came home, the dog was taken for a walk on a leash. We explained that Border Collies can run all day herding sheep and we helped the owner develop a more appropriate exercise plan for this active herding breed. For active breeds, a walk on a leash may not do the trick. Consider fetching and running games in a fenced yard or a dog park where the dog can run. If you are away from home in the daytime for long periods of time, doggie daycare may be a suitable option for your dog.
In AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy, STAR is an acronym that stands for Socialization, Training, Activity and a Responsible owner. Activity means exercise and in STAR classes, instructors talk to dog owners about their daily exercise plans for their puppies. CGC Evaluator Karen Vance described in the book, AKC STAR Puppy: A Positive Behavioral Approach to Puppy Training, how she had her students bring an exercise plan for their dogs to class. When Karen looked at the plan for a German Shepherd Dog who was jittery and could not focus, she said a light bulb went off. She worked with the dog owners to modify the exercise plan and within two weeks, the puppy was a different dog.
3. Teach practical skills
Once you’ve met the exercise needs of an active dog, functional Canine Good Citizen skills such as sit, down and stay can be used to manage your dog. When company comes and the dog can’t “settle,” a down-stay is often just what is needed to help the dog become calm.
4. Give the dog a job
In the case of the Border Collie above, increased exercise helped a lot. But active, smart breeds can also benefit from something to do on a regular basis that involves both physical and mental activity. AKC Performance events such as field work, herding, lure coursing and most recently, dock diving are perfect for canine athletes. AKC activities such as obedience, agility, and rally also provide the perfect combo of the physical and mental stimulation needed for the active dog.
5. Don’t forget the veterinary check
If you’ve put an appropriate exercise plan in place for your dog’s age and breed, and the dog continues to appear overactive, a veterinary work-up is in order. While most of the time, exercise, training, and activities are the issue, there are medical conditions that can cause hyperactivity. Your dog’s veterinarian can do a comprehensive medical exam to rule out any problems.
If there is a “type” of dog that has more than its fair share of problems, it would be the pitbull. Restrictive legislation, an inability for owners to get homeowner’s insurance and the policy of many shelters that these dogs can’t be adopted are some of the problems that plague the dogs described as the bully breeds.
Here is a link to newsclips about this model program. There are several separate interviews on the tape, be sure to catch them all!
Thanks to the hard work of CGC Evaluator Pamela Marie Nemec, the City of Pasadena, Texas, is now offering AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy, Canine Good Citizen, and AKC Community Canine classes.
In honor of the 25th birthday of the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program this year, we will be featuring articles with the “25” theme.
From some of our most active evaluators, here are the remaining great tips for marketing your CGC classes.
#14- Free lesson From time to time, for a limited time, I will offer a free introductory lesson for puppies, or older dogs, or seniors (humans). If the lessons are fun and if the dog learns new skills, I will get some new students from this offer.
#13- Group classes- special topics Throughout the year, I offer special group classes for dogs who have passed the CGC test. These can include hiking with your dog, Intro to Advanced CGC, Intro to Therapy Dogs, Canine Fitness, etc. Sometimes these are classes that last 6 weeks, but I’ve just discovered a day long workshop on a topic is successful and then people can sign up for ongoing classes.
#12- Volunteer at the shelter This is a way to help shelter dogs, polish your skills as a trainer, and the shelter staff will get to know you and see what you can do with a dog. Shelter staff are more likely to refer dog owners to the classes of trainers they trust.
#11- Community demos If your community has parades, fairs, etc., you can volunteer to do demos with your own dog and the dogs of your advanced students. A canine drill team is always a hit.
#10- Welcome back old students Contact students who took a puppy class and give them a special invitation to come and earn their CGC title. A personalized message is better than, “Dear Former Student.”
#9- Make your competitors your colleagues Even though dog trainers are often competitive when it comes to seeking business, there are more than enough dogs who need training to go around. If you will refer dogs to another trainer if you don’t have a class in session or your current class is full, the favor might be returned.
#8- Lifetime support for students When students take my class, I tell them that anytime they have a question about their dog, they can call me. Many stay in touch and take advantage of this offer, and some dog owners come back for additional classes after a training break. I know I’ve done a good job when a dog owner whose dog took my classes shows up with a new puppy.
#7- Blog Writing a blog takes time and is hard to be consistent, but my training school’s blog is a way to stay in touch with existing students. When someone asks about classes, I send them a packet with all of my services listed and a link to my blog. I often link to the AKC CGC blog.
#6- Facebook Some people think Facebook is a waste of time, but my Facebook page is set up for my training school. Students love to post pictures of their new STAR, CGC and AKC Community Canine dogs and tell about training successes.
#5- Car and Vans as ad space My dog van is painted with my business name, phone number, and web address. I have the CGC Evaluator logo on my back window. I can not believe how many people see the van and ask about my services when they see me in a parking lot. I didn’t want to paint my car so I am getting some magnetic signs for my “good” car that can be easily removed.
#4- AKC web page-CGC Evaluator list I list my CGC classes and tests on the CGC web page. I also list my name on the evaluator/CGC instructor on the AKC web page.
#3- Business card Every professional should have a business card. Including the CGC, STAR and CGCA logos on these cards creates awareness and lets others know I provide these services. I got the logos for each program from AKC’s CGC department that say, “EVALUATOR” underneath.
#2- Brochures in veterinary offices The veterinarian is the first professional that most dog owners will visit with their dogs. I put my business card and AKC STAR Puppy and CGC brochures in veterinary offices. I stamp my contact information on the back of the brochures.
#1- Have a well-trained dog Put your money where you mouth is. No excuses. Your own dog should be a shining example of your skills as a trainer. When people are impressed with your dog’s manners and skills, you can say, “In my CGC classes, I can teach you how to do this with your dog.”
Let us know if you’d like to share any marketing and PR methods that work for you.