Category: Dog Activities

Is Your Dog a Canine Good Citizen?

Do you think your dog has what it takes to be a  Canine Good Citizen?

The American Kennel Club (AKC) certifies dogs as Canine Good Citizens (CGCs) through a training program and practical examination.  It’s not easy to be become a CGC!

The Test

The practical exam is non-competitive and consists of 10 parts. The examination items cited below are listed on the AKC CGC webpage.

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger.  Your dog will allow a stranger to approach and engage in friendly conversation with you.
  2. Sitting politely for petting:  Your dog allows a friendly stranger to pet her.
  3. Appearance and grooming: Your dog will permit someone other than you to check his front feet.
  4. Walking on a loose lead
  5. Walking through a crowd:  Your dog must demonstrate the ability to move comfortably on a leash through a crowded space with you.  You will move close to at least three different people, demonstrating that your dog is  under control at all times.
  6. Sit and down on command and stay in place.  You may choose whether your dog stays in “sit” or “down” position.
  7. Coming when called:  Your dog will come when called.  This will be a long-leash exercise and your dog will return from 10 feet away.
  8. Reaction to another dog:  Your dog will sit quietly when a person and another dog stop to engage you in friendly conversation.
  9. Reaction to distraction: The examiner will create two different distractions such as a dropped chair.  Your dog must remain calm and under control.
  10. Supervised separation:  This demonstrates that you are able to leave your dog with a caregiver.  You will give your dog’s leash to the evaluator and go out of sight for three minutes.  Your dog must not bark, whine, or show anything other than mild agitation or nervousness.

The Pledge

You will also be asked to take a pledge to commit to proper veterinary care, exercise, training, grooming, hygiene, and safety.  The aim of the pledge is to ensure that dog owners understand their dog’s needs and are dedicated to being good dog parents.

Training for the Test

Classes often start with basic obedience, and dogs progress to CDC qualification.  It’s easy to find an AKC training club through the AKC locator.  Even if there are no AKC clubs offering training classes in your area, there are probably local certified evaluators who can point you to a trainer.  We found several certified evaluators in the Kansas City area, and many trainers that offer classes.  You can find a list on our Resources page.

The Benefits

Why should you consider Canine Good Citizen training for your dog?  It’s a prerequisite for many therapy dog programs.  Certification is sometimes required to keep a dog in a rental property.  And getting your dog certified may make homeowner’s or renters insurance pet riders easier to get.  For owners of certain breeds, certification may be the difference between having and not having liability insurance for your dog.

And best of all, perhaps, when your dog is certified s/he gets to proudly claim the title CGC.

Does the Bar-K Lab Already Have the Perfect Formula?

The founders of the Bar-K Lab, Dave Hensley and Lieb Dodell, have exciting plans for their permanent space in Riverfront Park.  But what if they have already found the perfect formula for a human and canine hangout space?  The 16,000 square foot indoor dog park at 515 Liberty Street in the West Bottoms features a safe play space for dogs plus a small bar serving reasonably priced beer and wine.  Dogs can’t go behind the bar, but they are welcome right up to the barstools.

Bar-K lab, indoor dog park, dog, dogs, bar
Dogs are welcome right up to the barstools at Bar-K Lab.

The perfect formula?

We made our first visit to the Bar-K lab last weekend.  Frankly, with temperatures in the teens, the indoor play space was the biggest draw for us.  The Lab lived up to its reputation as the place to be for urban dogs and their families.  Professional staff (we counted two to three people on the floor at any time) monitored dog play and cleaned up accidents.  The atmosphere was social for both people and pets.  Humans clustered around the central bar area with their drinks or socialized in small groups scattered throughout the facility.  Dogs roamed freely, chased any of hundreds of yellow tennis balls, climbed the stairs and ramps, slouched on the worn red leather sofa, or visited the astroturf potty areas.  TVs were on, but nobody was watching.

It might have been due to the reassuring presence of the floor staff (or maybe it was the beer) but dog parents seemed a lot more relaxed than the typical dog park crowd.  That translated to happier, more relaxed dogs.  Bad interactions were uncommon and were quickly broken up by the staff.  Our two dogs ran themselves silly and made some new friends.  The trip put a happy end to weeks of cabin fever.

Bar-K lab, bar, dog, dogs, indoor dog park
Dogs love the lounge space at Bar-K lab.

Will we go back?  Yes, we will.  The Bar-K Lab offers memberships for $165 plus $20 for each additional dog.  Visits are free with a membership.  We chose to play as guests for $10 plus $5 for our additional dog.  The dogs loved it, and the experience was stress free for us.  We will definitely take advantage of the indoor play space this winter.

What about the new space?

If the Lab is this much fun, the permanent facility, partially located under the Heartof America Bridge between Riverfront Park and the River Market, will be even better, right?  Maybe.  The new space will include outdoor dog play space and indoor restaurant, bar, and coffee shop for humans.  No dogs will be allowed in the indoor spaces.  The dog park will be fully staffed to care for dogs while their parents are inside.  When the weather permits, humans will be able to sit and eat on the patio with their dogs.

That’s great, but places to play aren’t that hard to find when the weather is good.  We regularly eat outside at restaurants with our dogs during warm weather.  We’re excited about the state of the art restaurant and healthy menu choices that are coming to the Riverfront area.  We’re happy that someone will babysit our dogs while we eat.  But when the weather gets cold, we’ll be looking back fondly on the campy comforts of the Bar-K Lab.  And we’re asking ourselves if the Lab will remain open for those of us who think it is perfect already.

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Photos: Jason C. Doss

KC Pet Collective is not affiliated with Bar-K Lab. For more information about dog-friendly activities at the Lab, check out our Event Calendar.