The American Kennel Club recently developed a new advanced level title – Community Canine. This title is an “advanced” version of the Canine Good Citizen test which is a pretty standard/basic test of if your dog can do some basic obedience and work around distractions (and not bite anybody – that’s part of the whole “good citizen” thing…). For some dogs, like Bauer, this test is a pretty easy precursor to other obedience titles or work like therapy dogs or service dogs. For other dogs, like Jeni, the test can seem totally unattainable and is a big achievement. Passing the test doesn’t necessarily make your dog a “good” dog and not passing it doesn’t mean your dog is “bad” but it’s a nice title to have and generally demonstrates that a dog has a stable temperament.
Community Canine takes the test a few steps further, adding more distractions and really testing if the dog can function in a busy, “normal” environment. While the CGC test is generally taken in a ring at a class facility with manufactured distractions, the Community Canine test is often held in public environments with “real” distractions to see how the dog can handle it. Again – not a test of good or bad, but a fun title to get.
At our nosework class/All Star Dogs Club a couple of weeks ago, everyone was chatting and I was sitting on the couch with Bauer and Jeni when I asked our trainer if he was holding CGCA tests at any point. He asked me if Bauer was ready, which of course he was (or, he better be, for all he goes out in public!), and told me we could do it that night. Thanks to the other students and their dogs for making distractions for me… we simulated real life experiences like walking past another dog down a tight hallway and walking through a doorway while holding (and not spilling) a full cup of water. Bauer passed easily… yes, THIS goofball:
After going through the steps with Bauer, I realized Jeni would be capable of taking the test as well! I should hope so, as she’s been going to busy agility trials and we have a rally trial scheduled for about a month from now. So at our next session, after running Jeni through some rally practice (she rocked it!) and working on some conformation handling (mostly having Jeni stand still and tolerating someone touching her), we decided to run Jeni through the test. And my beautiful and patient girl passed as well! She really is a special dog for always working so hard for me when most of the time I’m sure she wants to make this face:
A perfect handler I am not, but learning together is part of the journey! Anyway, now Jeni and Bauer both get to add CGCA after their names and can move onto other fun things and new titles down the road.
So I’ll leave you with this… see those goofballs in the pictures? They are “community canines” but they are also DOGS. They bark, and poop, and jump, and bite, and bark more, and pull on the leash sometimes, and play keep away, and knock stuff over, and chew things, and steal food… I could go on. A very smart coworker of mine told me if she could only get people to understand that dogs are dogs, and teach people they can’t expect robots, we would have way less of a homeless animal problem. So, from someone who trains their dogs daily and has several titles on them, look at what my “community canine” did just last night, and think about the expectations you have for your own dogs…
(Yes, Jeni does have a sense of humor…)