Developed in 1989 by the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Canine Good Citizen test is a ten-step program that evaluates all breeds for temperament, behavior, obedience, and other relevant skills. Dogs do not have to be agility champs or show stars to earn a certificate either. Any well-mannered dog, regardless of breed, age, or sex, can become a canine good citizen.
The program has become so popular that apartment or condo managers may ask pet owners to produce the certificate before approving a rental agreement. It is usually mandatory for a dog to register as a therapy dog. Judges who rule in aggressive dog cases may order the owner to enroll the pet in a canine good citizenship class before dismissing the case.
The AKC maintains a list of certified dog trainers who teach the classes at animal shelters, pet stores, or their own facilities. 4-H clubs offer the classes so that children can learn proper dog-handling techniques. Upon completion, the dog earns a certificate naming him as an official Canine Good Citizen.
There are few requirements to enroll other than a current dog license and inoculation record. The dog’s success depends on an owner willing to learn. Becoming a Canine Good Citizen is the first step involved in agility, obedience, conformation, and other dog activities. It shows a dog who responds to his owner and obeys basic commands.
Make sure that the trainer teaching the class is certified by the AKC; even if your dog passes the class, he won’t earn his Canine Good Citizenship certificate unless the class is certified.
Conformation activity measures how well a dog lives up to standards of appearance and temperament that have been set for each breed; all show dogs must meet certain criteria. The American Kennel Club is the most well-known conformation show organization in the United States. During a conformation show, Chihuahuas pose while being examined. As the judge makes notes, the dog cannot move. That is an incredible accomplishment all by itself.
In tandem with their handlers (who might or might not be their owners), the dogs circle the ring, showing off their poise and skill. Handlers and dogs who perform to near perfection are sometimes met with thunderous applause, yet competing Chihuahua has to remain cool. The noise cannot rattle him.
The only disqualifications specific to all Chihuahuas in the show ring are:
- Any dog over 6 pounds in weight
- Floppy or cropped ears
- Docked tail or bobtail.
In addition, a disqualification for a long coated Chihuahua is a too thin coat that resembles bareness.
To be penalized as a serious fault are bites that are not level or scissors or any distortion of the jaws. The Chihuahua also has to be snappy-looking and stylish. If he is aggressive and growls or offers to bite the judge, he will be disqualified. Blind or deaf dogs and dogs having certain other disabilities are also not allowed in the show ring.
Owners who take care of their dogs and work with them can do well on the show circuit. Competition can be thrilling. It provides a good chance to meet other Chihuahua owners, but it requires hours of dedication and hard work. It also entails expenses, including travel expenses. Competition is not for everyone, but many people find it rewarding and worthwhile.