A Special Visit to the California Governor’s Office: Part I


Tony and Aiden Tapiz; Lego, CGCU; and Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Santa Cruz)

When he was in the 5th grade, Aiden Tapiz, a handsome young man from California, was devastated when he had to miss a school trip to the California State Capitol.

Aiden has autism, a developmental disorder that is characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. People talk about the “autism spectrum” which basically means that problems related to autism can range from mild to severe. The problem that resulted in tremendous disappointment and heartache and caused Aiden to miss his 5th grade field trip was an inability to tolerate being in a crowd.

But all of that began to change in December 2012 when “Lego” entered the picture. Lego is Aiden’s Autism Service Dog. She was adopted from the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter and over the next 18 months, both Lego and Aiden were in training with Operation Freedom Paws. Operation Freedom Paws trains clients to train their own service dogs. They provide dogs and training to U.S. military veterans, individuals who have PTSD, and people with other disabilities such as autism.

By November 2013, Lego had passed the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test as well as a service dog team certification test (administered by a service dog agency). Within a matter of months, Lego became the first service dog brought into Aiden’s school district.

Finally, thanks to Lego, this year, Aiden got to take that long-awaited field trip to Sacramento to the California Capitol. Aiden, Lego and Aiden’s dad, Tony, were given a VIP tour of the Capitol. Aiden was extremely proud when he was told that he and Lego were the first service dog team to sit on the floor of the California Assembly, Senate and Governor’s office.

Aiden isn’t resting on all of this recent attention. He has been inspired by his dog training success and he is working to raise public awareness about autism, service dogs, and responsible dog ownership.

Aiden and Lego’s latest accomplishment? Lego, who showed her extraordinarily good city dog manners in the halls, elevators, and meeting rooms of the California Legislature, has earned the AKC’s newest CGC title- AKC Urban CGC. Paws Up to Aiden and “Lego, CGCU”- they’re staying busy and making a remarkable difference.


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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!

1c 2c



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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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