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AKC STAR Puppy Class: Just Do It

January 5, 2019

If you recently acquired a puppy, as I did, you will understand the time and effort that is involved and necessary in training. Housebreaking, puppy proofing your house, exercise, socialization. Training, training, and more training. All of these things are very necessary in order to have a well-behaved and well-adjusted dog. AKC has established a puppy class to give you and your puppy a great start in your training regime. This is called the STAR puppy class: STAR meaning “Socialization, Training, Activity and Responsibility.” These are very important ingredients for a solid future foundation. The components of the class are: 20 Steps To Success: The AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy® Test Owner behaviors: 1. Maintains puppy’s health (vaccines, exams, appears healthy). 2. Owner receives Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge. 3. Owner describes adequate daily play and exercise plan. 4. Owner and puppy attend at least six classes by an AKC approved CGC evaluator. 5. Owner brings bags to classes for cleaning up after puppy. 6. Owner has obtained some form of ID for puppy-collar tag, etc. Puppy behaviors: 7. Free of aggression toward people during at least six weeks of class. 8. Free of aggression toward other puppies in class. 9. Tolerates collar or body harness of owner’s choice. 10. Owner can hug or hold puppy (depending on size). 11. Puppy allows owner to take away a treat or toy. Pre-canine Good Citizen® Test behaviors: 12. Allows (in any position) petting by a person other than the owner. 13. Grooming — Allows owner handling and brief exam (ears, feet). 14. Walks on a leash — follows owner on lead in a straight line (15 steps). 15. Walks by other people — Walks on leash past other people 5 feet away. 16. Sits on command — Owner may use a food lure. 17. Down on command — Owner may use a food lure. 18. Comes to owner from 5 feet away when name is called. 19. Reaction to distractions — distractions are presented 15 feet away. 20. Stay on leash with another person (owner walks 10 steps and returns). All of these exercises are an integral part of your puppy’s introduction to its world. And its human demonstrates he/she will commit to being a responsible pet owner. I take Swayze to class to continue his learning and exposure to new situations and ever-changing environments. I always begin when my puppy is protected through vaccinations, and with the approval of my veterinarian. Swayze is, well, Swayze is a hoot. He relishes seeing new places and meeting new friends, as is evidenced by his constantly wagging tail. I love the joy that Swayze exudes, and his genuine friendliness. He makes me smile. The puppies in our current class are all adorable, and the pet parents very nice and committed to their young charges. The puppies are quiet and calm, preferring to primarily observe rather than participate. And then there is Swayze. Out at the end of his leash, wagging tail and big Cairn smile. When the instructor makes eye contact with Swayze, he will often excitedly bounce up and down, saying in doggie language, “pick me, pick me!!” I am so very happy that my puppy LOVES going to class, since his Mom (me) hated school. Play with a purpose The instructor brought out a toy tied to the end of a flexible rod, same as the cat toys. Swayze was in! And when I turned him loose he chased that toy in a circle with all the determination and concentration of a true terrier, and he caught and was prepared to kill it until the instructor reclaimed that poor critter. This demonstration, of course, was to illustrate one way to play with and exercise your puppy, and obviously Swayze gave this fun toy two paws up! Learning how to be a team player In this class, the puppies learn to focus and are taught various behaviors such as sit, down, stand, stay, and come. They are also learning how to relate to people and other dogs in a polite and positive way. A test is given at the end of the course, and a passing team will receive a certificate from the AKC. It is a fun time for both you and your pup, and obviously a GRAND time for Swayze!! Problem is that he still hates the car and got sick while traveling there and back home. Ugh. Training classes are much fun and a great bonding experience. The more you learn together, the stronger team you will become. Happy heeling! Last week, I had the privilege of meeting a fellow animal lover at a restaurant in Kingston. Thanks for reading my column, Donna, and a Happy New Year to you and all of my readers! Dog bless. Resource: AKC website Judy Endo writes about pets. Contact her at judyendo@outlook.com

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