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Is Your Dog a Canine Good Citizen? Find Out at the Potter League.

The Middletown organization can evaluate and train your dog to qualify as a “Canine Good Citizen,” a national program that is growing in popularity.

Dog lovers have long known the benefits of having a four-pawed friend in terms of stress relief and a boost to the spirits. An evaluation and training class offered by the , in Middletown, can provide certification that your dog is indeed a friend to all.

Both the evaluation and the class are called “Canine Good Citizen” (CGC), a national program started by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The CGC program is designed “to reward dogs who have good manners at home and in the community,” according to the AKC website.

To earn the CGC certification, a dog must be evaluated by an accredited trainer, and here in Middletown, that person is Byron Davies, Potter League’s Director of Behavior and Training. The next date for CGC evaluations at the Potter League is Saturday, Feb. 18, from 1-2 p.m.; there is a $10 fee. Dog owners must pre-register by calling Byron at 846-8276, ext. 104.

The evaluation is also a prerequisite for the next Canine Good Citizen training class being held at the Potter League. The CGC class begins Saturday, Feb. 25, and is a five-week class, meeting every Saturday until March 24, from 10-11 a.m. The fee is $100, and the dog must be 5 months or older.

The class will practice the 10 CGC requirements that dogs encounter in the CGC test. Pre-requisites for the training class include: Dogs must know sit, down, stay & loose leash walking. Dogs must accept petting from strangers without exhibiting shyness. Dogs must not be reactive or aggressive towards other dogs.

CGC certification, which has grown in popularity in recent years, is the first step toward registration as a therapy dog, according to the Potter League. “Once a dog receives the CGC certification, we can recommend local trainers recognized by such programs as Therapy Dogs International,” says Kerry A. McKinnon, Potter League’s Director of Marketing, Communications, and Outreach.

Therapy Dogs International (TDI) is a volunteer organization “dedicated to regulating, testing and registration of therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers for the purpose of visiting nursing homes, hospitals, other institutions and wherever else therapy dogs are needed,” according to the TDI website.

Animal-assisted therapy is growing field that enables dogs to provide a nurturing presence in many situations. It is based, in part, on research that has shown that pets can lower a person’s stress level and blood pressure, and speed a person’s recovery from an illness.

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