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Agility is a sport in which a dog runs through a timed obstacle course under the guidance of the handler. Agility training strengthens the bond between dog and handler, and provides fun and exercise for both.

Agility puppy training can start with dogs as young as 4 to 5 months! Granted, it doesn't really LOOK like agility at first. There's a lot of playing and silliness - but really, at any level of training, isn't that what agility should be for our dogs? FUN! Puppy agility NEVER physically stresses little puppy bones; so our young dogs don't do any real jumping. They step over small cavaletti style jumps that are only a couple of inches off the ground. We do a lot of target work to teach them to work away at a young age. Target work also helps our puppies to have excellent contact control! Puppies LOVE running through the tunnels (usually chasing each other or a ball!). And we do basic commands that help them to go DOWN on the table QUICKLY! The puppies even learn correct weave pole entry, using a touch stick!

Puppies are so eager to learn and so happy to please. They really pick things up quickly. But the key to a successful training session is to keep the lessons SHORT and POSITIVE (kind of like their instructor!). We also employ lots of rewards, from special food treats to toys and games (and lots of hugs). Once a puppy figures out an obstacle, they've GOT IT! And agility training works WONDERS for improving confidence in a shy puppy. The other huge benefit is the socialization these puppies are getting with each other; in fact, I think they look forward to the play sessions the most!

Canine Good Citizen

The Canine Good CitizenŽ Certificate is awarded under rules established by the American Kennel Club (AKC). It is open to all dogs whether purebred or mixed breed. The description below is of the test I took with my dog in 1995. The specific elements are under review so please check with AKC for the latest requirements.

Overview of the Canine Good Citizen Test

Your dog must appear for the test well groomed. The collar may not be a pinch collar, electric collar, or similar correction collar. You will provide the examiner with a brush to help demonstrate your dog's tolerance for being handled by a stranger. The dog must allow the examiner to brush it and to examine its body. The test also includes the dog sitting calmly while a stranger pets it.

Your dog must be comfortable with the approach of a friendly stranger. The examiner will approach you and shake hands. Your dog should accept the approach calmly, without shyness or aggression. A friendly dog can fail this by approaching with too much enthusiasm. A polite dog waits for permission before touching a stranger.

Your dog must be able to walk without pulling on its leash. A formal heel is not required. Your dog must be able to walk through a crowd of people. Often the people will be doing all the things people do - opening umbrellas, walking on crutches, swinging a sweater, crossing suddenly in front of the dog. Your dog should not pull at the leash, jump at the people, or show either fear or aggression.

The examiner will ask you to have the dog sit and lie down on command. You will be asked to tell the dog to stay, then to step away from the dog, about twenty-five feet or so and call the dog. The dog should stay until called, and come when called. Unlike formal obedience, repeating a command is allowed.

An ability to regain self-control after excitement is an important part of the test. The examiner will have you play with the dog briefly then calm it. The dog should calm quickly.

Your dog must allow the approach of person with a strange dog. Typically, the other person will approach with a leashed dog and shake your hand. Showing aggression, fearfulness, or even excessive friendliness is grounds for failure.

Your dog must remain calm if you leave it briefly, (I think its three minutes). You will secure the dog to some object as directed by the examiner, and go out of sight of the dog. The dog may move around but it must not whine, bark, pull or otherwise show distress. An important point to note is that the dog is not left alone but is being left under the indirect supervision of a stranger. You should try to interact with the examiner so the dog is aware that you are not abandoning it, but the examiner will not correct or otherwise soothe the dog.


Hunting spaniels flush game from the hiding places, and after the hunter shoots, retrieve the fallen quarry. They cover less ground than the larger pointers and setters, allowing hunters to follow on foot, and they can get into bramble patches and thick brush to do their job. The upland spaniels have docked tails; the water spaniels have a natural tail. Originally, spaniels were divided by the game they flushed, not by breed. Cockers (woodcock) and Springers (partridge, pheasants, and hares) could be found in the same litters.


Flyball is a team sport for dogs that was invented in California in the late 70's. Legend has it that Herbert Wagner first showed it on the Johnny Carson Show to millions of Americans. Soon afterwards dog trainers and dog clubs were making and using Flyball Boxes. In the early 80's the sport became so popular that the North American Flyball Association (NAFA) was formed and they are the worldwide authority for Flyball.

Flyball is a relay race with 4 dogs on a team. The course consists of a starting line, 4 hurdles spaced 10 feet apart and a box. The first hurdle is 6 feet from the start line and the box is 15 feet from the last hurdle for a 51 foot overall length. The dogs jump the hurdles and steps on a spring loaded box that shoots out a tennis ball. The dog catches the tennis ball and then runs back over the 4 hurdles. When the dog crosses the starting line the next dog goes. The first team to have all 4 dogs run without errors wins the heat. Tournaments are usually organized in either a double elimination or round robin foramt. Double elimination is usually best of 3 or best of 5. Round robin is usually best 3 out of 5 and the first team to win 3 heats receives 1 point towards their standing in the tournament.

The hurdles' height are dependent on the height of the dogs in the team -- 4" below the shoulder height of the shortest dog. 8" is the minimum height and 16" is the maximum height.


Rally is a sport in which the dog and handler complete a course that has been designed by the rally judge. The judge tells the handler to begin, and the dog and handler proceed at their own pace through a course of designated stations (10 - 20, depending on the level). Each of these stations has a sign providing instructions regarding the next skill that is to be performed.

The team of dog and handler moves continuously at a brisk, but normal, pace with the dog under control at the handler's left side. There should be a sense of teamwork between the dog and handler both during the numbered exercises and between the exercise signs.


Search and Rescue

This is Morgan, the American Kennel Club Search & Rescue Dog ACE Award Winner for 2006.  She is pictured with her owner Katrene Johnson. Morgan is a certified wilderness air scent, water and cadaver search dog through West Jersey K-9 Search and Rescue Specialty Search Associates. She is also a therapy dog with Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs. Morgan and Katrene have participated in more than 50 searches nationwide and in each case, Morgan's combined talents have provided assistance to victims and relief workers alike.


Junior Showmanship


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