akc urban logo-finalWe are pleased to announce a new member of the CGC family- AKC Urban Canine Good Citizen.

AKC Urban CGC is beginning in April 2015. The first AKC Urban CGC test in the country was recently administered by the Obedience Training Club of Palm Beach County.

Organized by CGC Evaluator Marti Hohmann, dogs and their owners went through AKC Urban CGC testing at CityPlace, a premier dog friendly shopping destination.

Hohmann and her Border Collie, Lark, walked by teenagers on skateboards, a trolley and Lark waited patiently while Hohmann had lunch in an outdoor café.

Vera, a retired racing Greyhound owned by Mary Macchia, was also among the first to earn her AKC Urban CGC title.  “It’s so important for our dogs to be well-trained so they are welcome in public places,” said Macchia.

Small dogs were present at the Palm Beach AKC Urban CGC test and they showed that with proper training and exposure, they too can be unflappable in the presence of city noises and distractions. Catherine Anne Cassidy’s Miniature Longhaired Dachshund, Sophie, performed all of the Urban CGC test items with ease, including hopping into a dog friendly cab. Cassidy said, “As long as your dog appears calm and under control, people welcome you and your pooch– and even appear glad to see dogs around.”


April 13, 2015

New York, NY – Giving responsible owners a whole new level of achievement for their dogs, the American Kennel Club (AKC) announced today the launch of “AKC Urban CGC” to the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) training program. The new title focuses on city-dwelling dogs and the special skills they require.

Since 1989, more than 700,000 dogs and their owners have been recognized by the CGC program, which rewards the dogs’ good manners at home and in the community. As with CGC, AKC Urban CGC requires a 10-step test of skills that dogs must pass to earn the official AKC Urban CGC title. AKC Urban CGC skills dogs must possess include:

  • Exits/enters doorways (of dog friendly buildings) with no pulling
  • Walks through a crowd on a busy urban sidewalk
  • Reacts appropriately to city distractions (horns, sirens, etc.)
  • Waits on leash, crosses street under control
  • Ignores food and food containers on sidewalk
  • Person approaches on sidewalk and pets dog
  • 3-minute down-stay in lobby of dog friendly building
  • Safely negotiates stairs and elevators
  • Housetrained
  • Enters, exits, rides dog-friendly transportation (car, subway in a carry bag, cab)

“City dogs require a very special set of skills, including waiting to cross a street, ignoring food tossed on a sidewalk, behaving in building lobbies and riding elevators,” said Mary Burch, Ph.D., Director of the Canine Good Citizen program. “Urban CGC reinforces practical, everyday skills for the millions of dogs living in urban areas today, creating safer, more responsible communities.”

To be eligible for the AKC Urban CGC title, dogs must have a CGC certificate or title on record at AKC and must have an AKC number (AKC registration number, PAL number, or AKC Canine Partners number). Dogs passing the AKC Urban Dog test will earn the “CGCU” title.

With the introduction of AKC Urban CGC, the AKC’s CGC program now provides a variety of training options for dog owners and their dogs. Beginning with AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy, progressing to Canine Good Citizen, AKC Community Canine and now AKC Urban CGC, the CGC program trains dogs through all stages of life and in all settings to be well-behaved in society.

Instructors can learn more about the program and begin training their students on AKC Urban CGC skills by visiting the AKC Urban CGC page. Urban CGC test materials are now available in the AKC store.

AKC Urban CGC testing will be administered by approved AKC CGC evaluators nationwide beginning this month.



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CGC Evaluators: Reaching the Public

CGC Evaluators Jerri Obalde, Natasha Robbins and Sonya Paxton of Canine Dimensions (in Virginia) work tirelessly to teach dogs and their owners in training classes and private sessions. Canine Good Citizen training and testing is a part of the Canine Dimensions curriculum.

canine dimensionsThe Canine Dimensions trainers are also involved in public outreach–spreading the word to a large number of people at a time. And this weekend, at the Super Pet Expo in Chantilly, Virginia (Washington DC area), that is exactly what they did.

Super Pet Expo is one of the largest gatherings of pet lovers on the east coast. The event is unique because the public (made up at this event by THOUSANDS of dog owners) is allowed to bring their dogs to shop and try girl:dogtraining activities. Super Pet Expo proudly describes their marketing plan as having “heavy radio rotation” and thousands of followers on social media. This means that the CGC message was spread beyond the event itself.

Canine Good Citizen testing was booked solid for two days with all of the reserved slots filled and numerous dog owners who signed up on-site for CGC testing.

Sample photos from the event show how proud the dog owners were when their dogs passed the test. Thank you Jerri, Natasha, and Sonya for making  a difference!

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Location, Location, Location: Choosing a Dog Trainer

When we did agility with our dog, we drove 2.5 hours one way to take lessons from a world-class trainer. I have a friend in Houston who starts a 2-hour drive across Houston in 5 o’clock traffic to get to the best training school she could find.

So when we surveyed 3500 dog owners and discovered that the majority selected their dog trainers based on location, imagination my surprise. And total disappointment.

Certification didn’t matter to many. Huge numbers of titles didn’t matter to many. Hands-on experience with tough dogs didn’t always matter. When mom works all day, comes home, fixes dinner, takes Bella to ballet and Jason to trumpet and then tries to fit in a dog training class, location wins.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. When choosing preschools and child care settings, a lot of parents make the choice based on location. If people are taking their babies down the street, they’re sure gonna take their puppy down the street.

dog trainer mapWhat can trainers do to educate the public? Here are a few tips.

1. Learn about marketing yourself. Make sure you have a great web page that explains the benefits of training with you. Describe some success stories with difficult dogs.

2. If you are 30 miles out of town because that is where you could find affordable land for agility, consider making your class schedule flexible. Drop-in classes allow students to come when they are able. This way, if someone has to miss the first class, you don’t lose them for 8 or 12 weeks.

3. Make yourself a part of the animal community so that your skills are spread by word-of-mouth. Get to know veterinarians and other animal professionals who will refer to you.

4. Build a whiz-bang curriculum and course offering that makes everyone want to come to your classes….no matter where they are located.

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Combat Veteran and CGCA Dog Give Back

Every now and then, a dog owner stays in touch with the CGC department to ask questions and get help regarding the next level of training. We hope that you enjoy this article from Kevin Gembarosky and his dog, Ranger, as much as we did.


Ranger was a gift to me from a disabled Army veteran. I am also a Combat Service disabled Army veteran and my friend thought that I needed this dog. My friend was right. Now Ranger and I are paying it forward and volunteering to help other service disabled veterans at the VA hospital in Pittsburgh, PA.

kevin and rangerOnce I knew that I wanted Ranger to become a therapy dog, as a team, we needed to get the proper training. I trained with CGC evaluator Mike Garrow. Then, I decided after Ranger had good success with the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test, we should set a goal of also earning the CGCA title (CGCA is AKC Community Canine, which is advanced CGC).

Next, I researched the therapy dogs groups on AKC’s therapy dog web page (http://www.akc.org/dog-owners/training/akc-therapy-dog-program/) and decided that the best fit for me and Ranger was Therapy Dogs Incorporated. We now volunteer for TD Inc. and we are working on our first AKC Therapy Dog title.

Ranger and I now volunteer with the VA twice a month in the Mental Health section of the hospital.  In addition to working with veterans, we also do training on animal-assisted therapy for the staff.

I believe that Ranger’s training progress has a lot to do with the systematic curriculum AKC has in place for training—STAR to CGC to CGCA is a logical sequence that helped me be a successful trainer.

Ranger and I see a lot more training in our future and I am so honored that as a result of training my own dog, I can help others.

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Taking the CGC Test: One Dog’s Story

Gillian Scott is a writer for the Times Union (Albany, NY). We thought we’d share her story of taking the CGC test with Her dog, Rocky.

Here’s the link:  http://blog.northjersey.com/jerseydog/4070/canine-good-citizen-champs-guest-post/

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AKC Community Canine Test (Video of test at a Dog Show)

Happy New Year! If your dog has already passed the CGC test, consider earning the AKC Community Canine title in 2015. Here is another video of the CGCA–this one in a dog show setting (Meet the Breeds).

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Canine Good Citizen: 10 Essential Skills for Every Dog

This week we talked about AKC Community Canine, advanced CGC. For those readers who may not have seen the original Canine Good Citizen test, we’re posting the test items today.  CGC started in 1989 and since then, more than 700,000 dogs have participated in the program.

10 Essential Skills: CGC Test Items

Wyn-blur CGC certificate copy 2Before taking the Canine Good Citizen test, owners will sign the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge. We believe that responsible dog ownership is a key part of the CGC concept and by signing the pledge, owners agree to take care of their dog’s health needs, safety, exercise, training and quality of life. Owners also agree to show responsibility by doing things such as cleaning up after their dogs in public places and never letting dogs infringe on the rights of others.

After signing the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge, owners and their dogs are ready to take the CGC Test. The test is all done on leash. Items on the Canine Good Citizen Test include:

Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger

This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The evaluator walks up to the dog and handler and greets the handler in a friendly manner, ignoring the dog. The evaluator and handler shake hands and exchange pleasantries. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness.

Test 2: Sitting politely for petting

This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. With the dog sitting at the handler’s side, to begin the exercise, the evaluator pets the dog on the head and body. The handler may talk to his or her dog throughout the exercise. The dog may stand in place as it is petted. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.

Test 3: Appearance and grooming

This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so. It also demonstrates the owner’s care, concern and sense of responsibility. The evaluator inspects the dog to determine if it is clean and groomed. The dog must appear to be in healthy condition (i.e., proper weight, clean, healthy and alert). The handler should supply the comb or brush commonly used on the dog. The evaluator then softly combs or brushes the dog, and in a natural manner, lightly examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. It is not necessary for the dog to hold a specific position during the examination, and the handler may talk to the dog, praise it and give encouragement throughout.

Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)

This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog may be on either side of the handler. The dog’s position should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to the handler’s movements and changes of direction. The dog need not be perfectly aligned with the handler and need not sit when the handler stops. The evaluator may use a pre-plotted course or may direct the handler/dog team by issuing instructions or commands. In either case, there should be a right turn, left turn, and an about turn with at least one stop in between and another at the end. The handler may talk to the dog along the way, praise the dog, or give commands in a normal tone of voice. The handler may sit the dog at the halts if desired.

Test 5: Walking through a crowd

This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three). The dog may show some interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with the handler, without evidence of over-exuberance, shyness or resentment. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise the dog throughout the test. The dog should not jump on people in the crowd or strain on the leash.

Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place

This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler’s commands to sit and down and will remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers). The dog must do sit AND down on command, then the owner chooses the position for leaving the dog in the stay. Prior to this test, the dog’s leash is replaced with a line 20 feet long. The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to get the dog to sit and then down. The evaluator must determine if the dog has responded to the handler’s commands. The handler may not force the dog into position but may touch the dog to offer gentle guidance. When instructed by the evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward the length of the line, turns and returns to the dog at a natural pace. The dog must remain in the place in which it was left (it may change position) until the evaluator instructs the handler to release the dog. The dog may be released from the front or the side.

Test 7: Coming when called

This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog. The handler may use encouragement to get the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell dogs to “stay” or “wait” or they may simply walk away, giving no instructions to the dog.

Test 8: Reaction to another dog

This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.

Test 9: Reaction to distraction

This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations. The evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity and/or may appear slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise it throughout the exercise.

Test 10: Supervised separation

This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, “Would you like me to watch your dog?” and then take hold of the dog’s leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness. Evaluators may talk to the dog but should not engage in excessive talking, petting, or management attempts (e.g, “there, there, it’s alright”).


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