AKC Community Canine: Most Common Problems in the Community

AKC Community Canine is the new advanced level of the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program. Dogs who pass the AKC Community Canine test can earn the “CGCA” title.

AKC Community Canine LOGO copyWhen it came time to develop the CGCA test, we wanted a test that was empirically validated.  We conducted observations of 100 dogs (and their owners) in community settings.  We took data and had inter-observer reliability observations.

We found out that one of the most common problems was that dogs pull or lunge on the leash to go to other dogs.

Here are 3 Tips for Handling Pulling Toward Another Dog

1.  Teach alternative behaviors to pulling and lunging (DRI).

If your dog is pulling to go and see other dogs when out walking, teach the dog some basic obedience skills including sit and heel on leash. (However, the dog does not have to be in a competition heel position; the idea is he will walk close to you when given the cue, “Heel.”)

DRI, differential reinforcement of incompatible behaviors, means reinforcing a behavior that is incompatible with the one you are trying to eliminate.

2. Implement Systematic Desensitization Procedure

Systematic desensitization involves using a hierarchy from the least to the most problematic situation. For pulling on a leash, you could start with your dog 50-ft. away from another dog at the park. If the dog can do that without pulling, move to 20-ft., then 10-ft. and so on.

Details on how to do this are in CITIZEN CANINE, the official book of the Canine Good Citizen program.  To order: http://classic.akc.org/store/detail/index.cfm?cde_product=PBK901&external=yes

 3. Only move toward the other dog when your dog is behaving.

This is a different technique than systematic desensitization. If your dog pulls toward the other dog, turn around and go in the opposite direction, away from the other dog. When your dog is calm, turn and approach the other dog again. You may have to do this several times.

For more information on AKC Community Canine, see:http://www.akc.org/dogowner/training/akc_community_canine/links.cfm

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About Canine Good Citizen

AKC Canine Good Citizen Director, Author of the AKC's official CGC book, "CITIZEN CANINE"
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8 Responses to AKC Community Canine: Most Common Problems in the Community

  1. Leah Nosack says:

    Very nice Mary!! I love these training tips!

  2. Lucy G. says:

    I am a dog walker and people I encounter think I am just horrible because I do not allow the dogs I walk to randomly greet every dog (and human) on our way. A couple of the dogs are in the 100 pound range and if they were allowed to bolt to every dog, person, bush or tree they wanted to, I would be pulled off my feet and whoever (or whatever) received their “greetings” would be knocked down! As for the smaller dogs I walk, including my own sheltie, most do not appreciate being pounced on by a stranger. This is so important, to teach your dog to behave, approach in a civilized fashion and unless given permission, to leave other dogs alone. Unfortunately, too many owners do not realize that they can and should teach their dogs boundaries!

    • Janet Mines Krings says:

      Lucy I wish you were walking dogs in MY neighborhood!! Want to move to Jersey City?? It makes it even harder to train your dog during walks, or reinforce good behaviors when the other handlers are making no efforts to control their dogs. Sheesh….

      • Lucy G. says:

        I live in California, in a semi-rural area. Even if a place is covered with signs requiring dogs to be on leash, more than 50% of the people think the rule does not apply to them or their dogs. Generally, these are the people whose dogs have no recalls and who believe that “being friendly” is charging up and jumping all over an unfamiliar dog. My sheltie, who is extremely well behaved (he has his CD, RAE, Therapy Dog title and the new advanced CGC title) is particularly unhappy about being pounced on by strangers and we have had many hikes ruined by bigger dogs harrassing him while their owners either laughed or helplessly called their untrained, off-leash pets. They do not think about what could happen if their dog behaved that way toward a large dog who resented it. They do not think about the fact that their dog could run ahead on a trail and encounter a rattlesnake, run out into the road and get hit by a car, Small dogs that run loose also make good meals for coyotes. All these things I have mentioned have happened in my area in the last few years.
        I generally go on at least three walks (or training sessions) each day and cover anywhere from four to ten miles. My client’s dogs are entrusted to me and it is my job to give them exercise and keep them safe. My own dog was quite shy and nervous as a puppy and I have worked very hard to counter that. I find the bad behavior of so many others incredibly frustrating…

  3. Bob Pierce says:

    Sound advice from an expert who cares….what a pleasure to follow her ..

  4. Victoria says:

    I feel you Lucy G. I have the same problem you described in my town which is a pretty affluent area in California.

    But as trainers and professionals, we have to remember the average dog owner truly has no idea why we are so sensitive about their loose dog approaching our trained dogs and I’ve grown tired of trying to explain my reasons to them. I have to remember that before I was a pro trainer I was not aware of the dangers and seriousness of dog on dog attacks.

    So, I’ve given up. I no longer walk my dog through parks or on trails. The stress of trying to enlighten dog owners counteracts the joy of walking my dog, so now I make multiple trips up and down my own street to be safe. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was when my very soft, submissive (Therapy) dog was attacked by an off leash dog while we were dining at an outdoor cafe. My anger took me to a place like no other I had felt in my life and I never wanted to feel that way again. For those of us who have trained dogs, we just need to pick our destinations thoughtfully, although as a dog walker I can see you have major challenges. My hat is off to you sister!!!

    The pet dog owner population far outnumbers those of us who have put years of training and titled our dogs. The physical safety and emotional health of our dogs is more important than trying to change the world. :)

    Thank you Mary for this blog post. Untrained dogs seems to be a growing problem in urban areas. I hope that more owners will socialize and train their dogs before they are forced into society and end up paying the ultimate price for their transgressions. (The dogs that is).

    Walk safe!

    • Lucy G. says:

      I have friends who have also given up taking their obedience and agility dogs out on walks for the same reason you have. I have to admit, I do avoid some trails I would love to hike with my sheltie because of the barbarians, but I know the area well and have several pretty safe routes for all of the dogs I walk. I have always been an avid hiker and could not bear to give it up. I refuse to let the barbarians scare me off completely.

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