Quincy Kennel Club (IL) Gives CGC Test to Vets & Service Dogs

The Quincy Kennel Club in Quincy, IL conducted a CGC test with veterans and their service dogs. Here’s the story:



Photo: Michael Kipley



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From AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy to Diabetic Alert Dog

Today’s guest writer is Michael Burkey of Michigan Dog Training.

SaoirsePuppyStarClick here to read about a STAR pup that is on the way to becoming a service dog.

Future Service Dog becomes a S.T.A.R. Puppy

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Historic FUN Obedience Event at Westminster

Photo: Cathy Sheeter Fine Arts

Photos: Cathy Sheeter Fine Arts


Never say never. That’s what I learned this week at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. The nationally recognized Westminster show takes place every February in New York City. For nearly a week, dog people from across the country descend upon New York and the city is abuzz with everything dog.

For many years, I’ve heard obedience people say, “wouldn’t it be great if some day our sport could be at Westminster to show the public about the benefits of training dogs?” And every time, someone would inevitably respond, “It will never happen.” That’s because Westminster has been a club steeped in tradition and that tradition has always been conformation shows.

But then, there was a change. Westminster Kennel Club decided to add AKC Agility to the show, and this year, everyone cheered at the show (and at home as they watched via television) for this year’s National Agility Champion.

And this year, in another beyond-belief extraordinarily progressive move, the Westminster Kennel Club decided to give AKC obedience a try. AKC obedience staff went to work on the idea. Doug Ljungren, the Vice President of Sports & Events (who is responsible for Obedience) gave the team one requirement: “This can not be like watching paint dry. You have to make it fun.”

And that is exactly what they did. Borrowing an idea from figure skating where there are both compulsory and creative (freestyle) events, the format for this national obedience championship event had required exercises and then handlers did their own creative thing.

Some of the creative routines bordered on canine freestyle, some bordered on tricks, and MAGIC happened. The crowd cheered, and clapped and roared, and everyone held their breath in suspense during the run-off between two dogs. Judge Sharon Ann Redmer played to the crowd, with her stage-presence voice and dramatic flourishes as she tore score sheets off her note pad.

And so it was, at this historic event, the crowd screamed and roared for AKC obedience. It was entertaining and it was fun. And it was at the Westminster Kennel Club.

If you missed it, watch the live stream on the Westminster Kennel Club web page at http://www.westminsterkennelclub.org

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Videos to Teach Safety Around Dogs: Are They Effective?

There are a number of videos that teach children how to be safe around dogs. The American Kennel Club’s video, “The Dog Listener” uses young actors to show children how to handle potentially dangerous situations with dogs including how to react when an unknown dog is running in a park (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTjTzP5Bod0).

The “Eddie Eagle” video of the National Rifle Association (NRA) teaches children what to do if they encounter a gun in a place they didn’t expect, and numerous “stranger danger” videos aim to prevent kidnapping by teaching children to never get in a car with someone they don’t know.

kid meets dog - beachHow effective are these educational videos? As it turns out, there is experimentally controlled research on this very topic of using videos to teach children safety behaviors and the answer is…drumroll please……

Videos alone are not effective in teaching safety behaviors to children.

A well-known researcher in this area, Dr. Ray Miltenberger, taught a group of children everything they needed to know about gun safety using stand-up training and a video. “If you find a gun, don’t touch it, go and get an adult.” The children learned the material, and answered questions correctly. Then, immediately following the instruction, they were given the opportunity to do an activity and have a snack. The researchers had placed a (disabled) gun on the snack table. With a group of mortified parents watching via a hidden camera, one child found the gun, picked it up, and pointed it at the head of another child.

When dog trainers use a video such as AKC’s “The Dog Listener” to teach children to be safe around dogs, the video can serve as a good starting point for the discussion. Then, two things need to happen for the instruction to be effective: 1) the children need to have practice using the skills with real dogs; the instructor provides modeling and reinforcement of correct behaviors, and 2) the training with real dogs needs to be generalized to the child’s home and neighborhood setting with a parent or adult providing training and feedback.

– Mary R. Burch, PhD, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D)



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How To Know When It’s Time To Say Goodbye

In the last few months, I’ve watched several close friends as they’ve had to make some heart-breaking decisions about their older dogs.

old dogWhen it comes an older dog who is a beloved family member, making the decision that it is time to say good-bye is one of the most difficult decisions you will ever have to make.

For me, I think the two main factors are 1) is my dog still comfortable—is there any sign of pain, fear or confusion and 2) does he still enjoy being here?

An older dog may be slower and have a hard time getting down the steps, but for an issue like this, adaptations can be made such as providing a ramp. Many physical problems of older pets can be managed without a euthanasia solution.

Older dogs may have incontinence (bladder and/or bowels) and this can be handled with more frequent trips outdoors, keeping the dog in a space with a floor that is easy to clean, or waterproof pads.

For some older dogs, particularly those that are larger, one problem that can signal the end is getting closer is the dog’s rear end fails—it has a hard time getting up when laying down, or the back legs may become unreliable.

Your veterinarian can always guide you from the medical standpoint. For the rest, you’ll have to decide what is in your heart. Many people say that the dog you love so much will let you know when it’s time.

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The Story of Truth and Mugs: Two Special CGC Dogs

Guest author: Kelley Fecteau (Rainbow Service Dogs)

When I think of CGC dogs, the story of brother and sister littermates who have overcome tremendous odds always come to mind.

Mugs and Truth had come to Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) in the autumn of 2013. They had been found along with their mother and three siblings in a local dumping ground. Both Truth and Mugs had suffered multiple gunshot wounds and they were severely dehydrated.



It was no surprise that with this horrendous start in life, both dogs were extremely shy when they first arrived at PACC. By November, Truth was behaviorally stable enough to be adopted. On a home visit, we found that Truth was terrified of going up stairs. Going down was no problem. Mind you, Truth was a 65-pound dog; she was certainly not easy to carry. But when it comes to dog training, persistence pays off and after a week of training, finally, one day she got it and up the stairs she went.

By December, Mugs was also doing well in training. We heard of a couple who was specifically looking for a larger dog. Again we went back to Pima Animal Control Center and tested several dogs. The couple brought their grandchildren to ensure the dog chosen as a new family member did well with them as well.



Mugs was chosen and he went to his new home. About a week later, while looking at the copies of their paperwork, I realized the background on both dogs matched and had the same date. I confirmed they were in fact the siblings I met several months before. Mugs began to attend classes immediately, and when he and Truth first met after their long separation, the expression between the two was amazing. They wagged their tails, and jumped towards each other with clear signs of recognition.

Around the beginning of January, Truth began refusing to get into the vehicle or leave the house on various occasions. Each time within a half hour to an hour, her owner would experience a seizure or a cardiac episode. It seems that Truth had some natural ability as a seizure detection dog. Truth remained in classes and she has passed the Canine Good Citizen, AKC Community Canine (advanced CGC) and Urban CGC tests.

Still in training, Mugs has passed the CGC test with flying colors. As a result of consistent training and dedicated owners who love these dogs, both overcame and survived above and beyond all odds. To this day, when the brother and sister see each other, they wag their tails, get a little excited, and then turn and go on their merry way toward whatever their great new lives have to offer.

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Introducing Your Dog to a New Baby

Sometimes, compassionate people are so eager to help a dog in a shelter or rescue situation, they just don’t have on their thinking caps.

The call yesterday was from a first-time mom with a new baby. Two weeks before her due date, mom goes with a friend (who wanted a kitten) to a shelter. It was there that mom saw a very active dog with a behavioral history. She adopted the dog and said he was “trouble from the start.” Nothing was done to prepare the dog for the baby because “everything was so hectic.” Now the dog is nipping at the baby. Here come the limiting conditions….mom had a c-section, is not doing well and needs plenty of rest during the day. She can’t have a 50-lbs. dog pulling her on the leash. Dad is not in the picture. There is no neighbor or relative who could work with the dog. She doesn’t have the money to pay a trainer to work with the dog. The mom was calling to ask for magic.

In a more ideal world, to introduce a new baby to a family dog, here are seven simple steps:

  1. Training

Sleeping newborn baby alongside a dachshund puppy.

Ideally, as soon as parents-to-be know that a baby will be coming into the family, if it hasn’t been done before, the canine family member will be provided with some training. Behaviors such as sit, down, stay, and “back up” are very helpful when it comes to managing a dog around new infants.

  1. Getting to Know You

When the baby arrives in the hospital, before coming home, send home a blanket or shirt from the baby so that the dog can become familiar with the baby’s scent.

  1. Introduce the Dog to Baby Items

The baby will have new swings, rocking seats, and toys. As soon as possible, show the dog the new items so that he has seen the swing move before there is a baby in it, and he knows what it means when you say “Leave it!” when it comes to baby toys.

  1. Get Ready for Crying

If your dog is sound sensitive and you think he may be nervous when the baby cries, you can expose him to crying baby sounds via a CD. Starting with quieter cries, you can gradually crank up the sound until your dog is a pro at listening to a wailing baby.  See www.preparingfido.com for a baby-sounds CD.

  1. Dog Meets Baby

Your pup will probably be curious and anxious to meet the new member of his family. To make sure he doesn’t jump on you when you come home from the hospital, it is a good idea for you to get in the room and be sitting when the dog comes in to meet the baby for the first time.  If you have a very active dog, have a helper bring him into the room on a leash. Praise the dog for being calm and well-behaved.

  1. Maintain the Dog’s Exercise and Play

Whenever there is a new baby, it is common for all of the attention to be on the new infant. Make sure the canine member of your family still gets daily exercise and play sessions. This is extremely important for having a calm, mellow dog. If you just can’t do it all, consider getting a temporary personal assistant for the dog. There might be a neighborhood teenager who would be happy to take a dog for a walk and play with him.

  1. Supervise Dogs and Children

Finally, the AKC Canine Good Citizen Responsible Dog Owners Pledge advises that children and dogs should always be supervised when together. This applies to when the babies are infants and when they are preschoolers.

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