The AKC’s S.T.A.R. Puppy program (Socialization, Training, Activity, and Responsibility) is meant to help get you and your puppy off to a good start. It’s open to any puppy under 1 year of age with appropriate vaccinations who has gone through my 6-week Puppy Obedience & Manners course or my Basic Obedience & Manners course. Both purebreds and mixed breeds are eligible. Once your pup passes the S.T.A.R. puppy test, which is given at the end of the 6-week course, you’ll be given an application to send in to the AKC and they will send you a S.T.A.R. Puppy Medal and a certificate showing your pup is now a S.T.A.R. puppy. Here’s how it works and what your dog will be evaluated for. (Some information below courtesy of the AKC.)
Responsible Dog Owners Pledge
Before taking the S.T.A.R. Puppy test, owners will sign the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge. The AKC believes that responsible dog ownership is a key part of the Canine Good Citizen concept and by signing the pledge, owners agree to take care of their dog’s health needs, safety, exercise, training and quality of life. Owners also agree to show responsibility by doing things such as cleaning up after their dogs in public places and never letting dogs infringe on the rights of others.
After signing the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge, owners and their dogs are ready to take the S.T.A.R. Puppy Test. Items on the S.T.A.R. Puppy Test are:
- Show that he/she maintains puppy’s health (vaccines, exams, appears healthy)
- Describe adequate daily play and exercise plan
- Demonstrate that he/she brings bags to classes for cleaning up after puppy
- Show that he/she has obtained some form of ID for puppy – collar tag, etc.
Your puppy must:
- Be free of aggression toward people during at least 6 weeks of class
- Be free of aggression toward other puppies in class
- Tolerate collar or body harness of owner’s choice
- Allow owner to hug or hold puppy (depending on size)
- Allow owner to take away a treat or toy
- Allow (in any position) petting by a person other than the owner
- Allow owner handling and brief exam of ears and feet
- Walk on a leash (follow owner on lead in a straight line for 15 steps)
- Walk by other people (walk on leash past other people who are 5 feet away)
- Sit on command (owner may use a food lure)
- Down on command (owner may use a food lure)
- Come to owner from 5 feet away when name is called
- Have an acceptable response to distraction (puppy can startle but not show extreme fear or aggression to something like a chair being dropped 15 feet away)
- Stay on leash with another person while owner walks 10 steps from pup and then returns
Encouragement & Food/Treats/Toys
Owners/handlers may (should!) use praise, petting, smiles, and encouragement throughout the test. Food and treats ARE permitted during testing; owners can use food as a lure, if necessary, to encourage their pup to sit or down, etc. Toys can also be used as a lure and/or reward.
All tests must be performed on leash. For collars, dogs should wear well-fitting buckle or slip collars made of leather, fabric, or chain. Body harnesses are allowed. Martingale collars and head halters are also allowed for the test. Electronic collars are not permitted in the S.T.A.R. Puppy test. The owner/handler should bring the dog’s brush or comb to the test.
Failures – Dismissals
No harsh corrections will be allowed.
Any dog that growls, snaps, bites, attacks, or attempts to attack a person or another dog will be dismissed from the test.