Yorkie Passes Advanced CGC in Grand Central

It’s usually not a good sign when a police officer is holding your dog. The dog in the photo is Chowsie, a Yorkshire Terrier owned by Liz Donovan of New York City.


Chowsie didn’t get pulled over for speeding, although he was one fast little dog. And he didn’t get arrested for breaking any rules. As a matter of fact, his behavior was perfect. So perfect that last week, he passed the AKC Community Canine (advanced CGC) test in Grand Central Terminal, NYC.

So in this photo, the news was good–Chowsie wasn’t getting a ticket. He was getting some serious congratulations from a Grand Central K9 officer.

“What amazed me the most,” said CGC Director, Mary Burch, who tested Chowsie, “was the incredible confidence of this little dog. He was unflappable and happy to be there. He should be a poster child for toy breeds everywhere. He strutted through one of the busiest locations in the world like he owned the place.”

When asked if she had any tips for training a breed that so many people carry everywhere in a purse, Liz Donovan said, “I’ve been working on his behavior for his whole life. He’s 7 years old; he got his CGC when he was 1 year old. We trained at Petsmart through CGC. But I work every single day on maintaining his skills at home and in the neighborhood.”

Donovan didn’t take all the credit. She acknowledged Chowsie’s breeder. “Carolyn Nestor, the breeder, gave me a dog with the best natural temperament and she worked so hard to socialize him in the first 12 weeks of his life, so I had a well-behaved, confident puppy to start with.”

So Bravo!, Carolyn Nestor and Liz Donovan.

And BRAVO Chowsie, CGCA!  And Chowsie, just remember, “if you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere.”


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Thank You to Our Veterans

Marine & dog memorial

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AKC Community Canine in Grand Central Station

Last week was a great week for AKC Community Canine. There was an AKC Community Canine test in Grand Central Station in New York City.

AKC Community Canine, also known as advanced CGC or CGCA, is all about dogs being able to generalize basic skills they learned in Canine Good Citizen to the real world.

AKC Community Canine is CGC on steroids.  It’s one thing for a dog to demonstrate learned behaviors in a very controlled situation. It’s another thing altogether to show those skills in an unpredictable, busy, community setting.


Emily, a Leonberger owned by Mara Bovsun, passed the AKC Community Canine test in Grand Central Station. Here’s Emi being congratulated by a Grand Central K9 officer.

When it comes to busy community settings, probably one of the busiest of all is Grand Central Station in New York City. This week, we’ll tell you about this very special test event as well as the dogs and dog training instructors who attended.


As a reminder, here are the test items on the AKC Community Canine test:

Advanced Canine Good Citizen (the “CGCA” title)

To earn the CGCA title, the dog must 1) be registered or listed with AKC (AKC number, PAL, or AKC Canine Partners number) and, 2) already have a Canine Good Citizen award/title on record. Dogs must pass all 10 items of the test to receive the CGCA title.
1. Dog stands, sits or lies down and waits under control while the owner:

sits at the registration table and fills out paperwork, or,
if the test is done in the community, dog waits while the owner sits and has a snack or visits with
another person (e.g., at a park)

2. Walks on a loose leash in a natural situation (not in a ring)–does not pull.

left turn
right turn
fast and slow pace

3. Walks on loose leash through a crowd

at a show or in class, this item is tested in a real crowd, not in a ring
in the community, dog walks on sidewalk, through a crowd at a community fair, park, on a trail, through a busy hallway, etc.

4. Dog walks past distraction dogs present; does not pull.
This item may be tested along with #3 if there are dogs in the crowd, etc.

at a show or class, dog walks by dogs waiting in the crowd–dogs 2 ft. apart
in the community, dog walks by other dogs on a trail, sidewalk, in a hallway, etc.

5. Sit–stay in small group (3 other people with dogs).
Owners and dogs are in an informal circle/square while owners have a conversation.
Dogs are all on the owner’s left side, on leash; 3 ft. apart. (At least 30 seconds)

6. Dog allows person who is carrying something (backpack, computer bag, etc.) to approach and pet it.
“May I pet your dog?” (Item is placed on floor/ground before the person pets the dog)

7. “Leave it.” Dog walks by food and follows owner instructions, “Leave it.”
This can be food placed by the evaluator on the floor or ground in a food dish with a wire cover as in Rally.

8. Down or sit stay–distance (owner’s choice).
Dog is on 20–ft line, owner walks away with back to dog, picks up an item (e.g., backpack, training bag, clipboard, folder etc.) placed on the floor/chair/ground by the evaluator and returns to the dog.

9. Recall with distractions present (coming when called). Handler goes out 20–ft. (off center) and calls dog.
Dog is on the 20–ft. line from #8 above.

10. Dog will sit or stand stay (owner’s choice) while owner enters/exits a doorway or narrow passageway. Owner calls dog through door when ready.

Owner may also choose to 1) send the dog through first and have the dog wait for the owner, or 2) the owner may choose to have the dog go through the doorway at the owner’s side. Whichever method is used, the dog must not pull the owner and must be under good control. Think of the handler having the leash in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.

Doorway or gate can be real or simulated with ring gates, two chairs, or a natural passageway (e.g., entrance to trail) in the community.


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Beagle Returns Lost Items in Airport

Here is a link to some of my favorite scent work ever!

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K-9 Officers are Canine Good Citizens!

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 of CT visits with Newtown Police Officer Felicia Figol and K-9 Officer Saint Michael and Orange Police Officer Mary Bernegger and K-9 Office Trent.

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.


K-9 Officers Saint Michael and Trent get Canine Good Citizen medals and ribbons from U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal at Trap Falls KC RDO Day.

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.

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I Want to Be a Dog Trainer-Where Do I Start?

obedience training dogIt’s a frequent call to the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen Department. “I love dogs. I am at a point where I want to change careers and I would like to become a dog trainer.”

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.”






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Help! My Dog Is Hyperactive

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.

run with dog2. Provide adequate daily exercise

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.

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