• AKC's Canine Good Citizen

    Monday, April 28, 2008

    The following is an outline of the AKC's Canine Good Citizen from Mary R. Burch, PhD written on behalf of dog trainers in Pasco County Florida for county level implementation.


    The "CGC" program started in 1989. Since that time, 500,000 dogs have passed the CGC Test and earned the Canine Good Citizen award. The CGC Test is becoming widely recognized as the minimum standard of behavior for dogs in our communities.

    With only 6 to 8 weeks of training (attending a class 1 hour per week and the owner/dog practicing 15-minutes per day), most dogs are ready to pass the CGC Test. The program also requires dog owners to sign the Responsible Dog Owner's Pledge.

    A number of the leading insurance companies require the CGC award for homeowner's insurance, some dog parks require CGC as a prerequisite for admission, and an increasing number of condos and apartments are requiring resident dogs to earn the CGC award. In Sequim, Washington, licensing fees are discounted for dogs with the CGC award.

    The Florida legislature passed the first Canine Good Citizen Resolution in 1991. The resolution endorses the Canine Good Citizen concept and since 1991, 34 states and the United States Senate have passed CGC resolutions.

    The AKC does not financially benefit from the CGC classes; the fees for instruction are paid to local dog trainers. Owners who have the skills may also train their dogs for the CGC test themselves.


    Below are a few ideas Dr. Burch has on implementing a CGC program at the county level:
    • Brochures handed out to owners of dogs who have animal control violations
    • Sign in vet offices
    • CGC class held at the shelter
    • CGC training for some of the shelter dogs; advertise as CGC dogs


    For more information please visit the Canine Good Citizen site.
  • Lectures at the Pasco County Libraries

    Friday, April 25, 2008

    People and Pets
    Sponsored by The Friends of the Library in conjunction with PetsMart Charities.


    Dog Training Presentation: Chewing, Mouthing, Nipping, and Chew Toys
    May 3rd, 2008 - 2 p.m.
    Hudson Library [directions]

    Understanding your dog's behavior will lead to a great relationship. Presented by trainer Maureen Schooley.


    Dog Training Presentation: Basic Dog Manners
    May 10th, 2008 - 2 p.m.
    South Holiday Library [directions]

    Training your dog for basic household manners. Presented by trainer Joyce Lewis.
  • AVSAB Position Paper on Puppy Socialization

    Wednesday, April 23, 2008

    The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has released a new position statement on puppy socialization.

    "Classes and at-home training should be based on positive reinforcement with frequent rewards praise, petting, play and/or treats. Positive and consistent training is associated with fewer behavioral problems and greater obedience than methods that involve punishment and/or encourage human dominance."

    The full version can be found on their website here


    Full version from original statement:

    AVSAB Position Paper on Puppy Socialization

    The primary and most important time for puppy socialization is the first three months of life.1, 2 During this time puppies should be exposed to as many new people, animals, stimuli and environments as can be achieved safely and without causing overstimulation manifested as excessive fear, withdrawal or avoidance behavior. For this reason, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior believes that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated.

    Because the first three months are the period when sociability outweighs fear, this is the primary window of opportunity for puppies to adapt to new people, animals, and experiences. Incomplete or improper socialization during this important time can increase the risk of behavioral problems later in life including fear, avoidance, and/or aggression. Behavioral problems are the greatest threat to the owner-dog bond. In fact, behavioral problems are the number one cause of relinquishment to shelters.3 Behavioral issues, not infectious diseases, are the number one cause of death for dogs under three years of age.

    While puppies' immune systems are still developing during these early months, the combination of maternal immunity, primary vaccination, and appropriate care makes the risk of infection relatively small compared to the chance of death from a behavior problem.

    Veterinarians specializing in behavior recommend that owners take advantage of every safe opportunity to expose young puppies to the great variety of stimuli that they will experience in their lives. Enrolling in puppy classes prior to three months of age can be an excellent means of improving training, strengthening the human-animal bond, and socializing puppies in an environment where risk of illness can be minimized.

    The Process of Socialization:
    Puppies should be handled from birth, learning to accept manipulation of all body parts. Every effort should be made to expose them to as many different people, well-socialized animals, situations, places, etc. as possible. Puppies should be encouraged to explore, investigate, and manipulate their environments. Interactive toys and games, a variety of surfaces, tunnels, steps, chutes, and other stimuli can enrich the puppy's environment. Puppies should accompany their breeders/owners on as many car trips as possible. These exposures should continue into adulthood to maintain an outgoing and sociable dog.

    Puppy socialization classes can offer a safe and organized means of socializing puppies and more quickly improve their responsiveness to commands. Each puppy should have age appropriate vaccinations (see side bar) and be disease and parasite free before entering the class. Where possible, classes should be held on surfaces that are easily cleaned and disinfected (e.g. indoor environments) . Visits to dog parks or other areas that are not sanitized and/or are highly trafficked by dogs of unknown vaccination or disease status should be avoided.

    Classes and at-home training should be based on positive reinforcement with frequent rewards praise, petting, play and/or treats. Positive and consistent training is associated with fewer behavioral problems and greater obedience than methods that involve punishment and/or encourage human dominance.4,5,6

    Time must be scheduled for puppies to play alone with their favorite toys (such as stuffed food toys) or take naps in safe places such as crates or puppy pens. This teaches puppies to amuse themselves, and may help to prevent problems of over attachment to the owners. Continuing to offer dogs a wide variety of experiences during their first year of life is also helpful in preventing separation-related behavior.7

    Proper confinement training using pens or crates helps to ensure that puppies have safe and secure places for rest and confinement. Puppies that are used to being crated will be less stressed if they must be hospitalized or be confined for travel by plane or car. Crates should serve as comfort or play areas.

    Early and adequate socialization and programs of positive training can go a long way to preventing behavior problems and improving bonding between humans and dogs. While the first three months is the most important socialization period in a puppy's life, owners of puppies that have passed this milestone are strongly encouraged to continue to socialize their puppies to as many people, pets, and locations as is practical. However, owners of puppies displaying fear should seek veterinary guidance.

    In general puppies can start as early as 7-8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first de-worming, and should be kept up-to-date on vaccines throughout the class.

    In general puppies can start as early as 7-8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first de-worming, and should be kept up-to-date on vaccines throughout the class.


    References:
    1. Serpell J, Jagoe JA. Early experience and the development of
    behaviour. In Serpell J (ed). The Domestic Dog, p.82-102, Cambridge
    University Press 1995

    2. Freedman DG, King JA, Elliot O. 1961. Critical periods in the
    social development of the dog. Science, 133, 1016-1017

    3. Miller DM, Stats SR, Partlo BS, et al. Factors associated with
    the decision to surrender a pet to an animal shelter. J Am Vet Med
    Assoc 1996;209:738- 742

    4. Duxbury MM, Jackson JA, Line SW, Anderson RK. Evaluation of
    association between retention in the home and attendance at puppy
    socialization classes. JAVMA, 223 (1), 2003, 61-66

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