Below is a conversation thread between me, (Anna Booth, the dummie); and Lily Grace, (the expert), of NIDAD. National Institute of Diabetic Alert Dogs. It focuses on the CGC, (Canine Good Citizen), PAT (Public Access Test) and other "wonders to the world of DAD importance" when searching for what is what in this industry!
When shopping for a trainer/organization it is imperative to check out whom ever you are considering. Just belonging to an organization doesn't guarantee they know what they are doing. I am NOT a non-profit 501c3 company. I do however use the PAT (Public Access Test). The test is available to all on the net. I am a member of SDS (Service Dog Schools). The organization is new and is just getting together their own PAT and certification material. I'm very hopeful for this organization. I am PRO mandatory certification of trainers as this is a major benefit and protection to consumers. There are bias to non-profits regarding PAT certification. It's important to keep in mind that there are many great for-profit trainers/companies, as well
I am hoping to be a part of the rally for laws to be in place- (if that day EVER comes) for service dogs. I read an article suggesting it, and our org is doing the PAT and such standards on their dogs which comforts me for many reasons. Do you agree with any of this?
I agree with mandatory certification. BUT it must include everyone not just non-profits. There needs to be an independent non biased agency with written standards much like the AKC. I'm not certain what your org specifically uses but I agree PAT (Public Access Test) & SAT (Scent & Alert Test) is crucial.
SAT---I'd like to know more about that... I know our org is confident in their PAT and how it is accomplished. What is the CGC hype all about? I have inquired through AKC and found out some info, but wonder what it really matters to those with "CGC" dogs. My prior experience with organizations has me asking a lot of questions about "who gives the PAT/how/who can administer, etc". I'd hate to know in the future that families found out they were deceived by who administered their CGC, how their PAT was administered, etc. I'd prefer organizations and trainers figure out the truth and share is bluntly with prospective clients. I am soaking it all in as a learning experience. I'd like to, in all this, know as much, if not more than necessary, so that I can make clear decisions and advocate for what I feel is right. And write about it with clarity....you see why/where I'm coming from...?
The SAT and PAT can be administered by anyone. To be certified means nothing. Anyone can say they certify. ADI does certify for their PAT. I test all of our dogs prior to placement - What does that really mean? I certify. Am I biased towards my dogs. Probably. What trainer/company wouldn't be. This is my point. The consumer needs this test and it should be administered with them handling their own dog. If the consumer can read the test and know what the dog is supposed to do, then they'll know if in fact if their dog does posses the skills required. As far as AKC. I too am a CGC evaluator. Again it's kind of a joke. The test is on-line and anyone with an 8th grade reading level could pass. That is not to say that the AKC sanctioned events put on by a club is in the same category. It is not. I train my dogs to AKC CD level. Go to the AKC Obedience site and you can review their standards. I believe all Service Dogs should be able to attain this level of obedience. This is done in front of 2 different judges at two different events. Totally non-biased.
Very interesting...I see. Sean will be handling his own dog to administer the PAT when he does team training early next year. He will be the handler... Does the CGC carry ANY klout? Do either of the tests in the long run...? The obedience testing with AKC in front of judges- is that something like "rally"? And even if not/so does AKC travel for that or does one go to them for that...
Many companies and trainers offer PAT test. This is nothing new. Again - what does the certification mean, NOTHING perhaps depending on who is certifying the test. If a company certifies their own dogs there most certainly is bias. I am no exception to this. How can we not be. The only way to be certain is for the dog to be tested independent of the trainer and handler. Dogs will pick-up on body language and non-verbal cues of known trainers and handlers thus rendering an impartial test improbable and highly unlikely. SAT testing is again subjective to the same discrepancies as the PAT. So what does this mean for the consumer. Again not too much. The ONLY thing that really matters in the long run is DOES THE DOG WORK FOR THE HANDLER. These test are to be used as a standard upon which a dog training company/trainer can gauge the dogs abilities. I have seen dogs pass these tests with flying colors, only to have limited if any real value to the handler.
AKC obedience testing is done at different venues across the country. These are sanctioned events put on by AKC registered clubs. The standards are written by the AKC and judged by a certified AKC judge. To receive an obedience title at the Novice level, a handler/trainer must receive a minimum amount of points (150) to qualify for one leg. Total points possible is 200. The team must do this in two different events (legs) to attain a title (CD) and ribbon. Once titled the dog is qualified to advance to the next level. Obedience titles are a little more difficult to attain than a Rally level. A dog that advances through all levels and has earned enough points throughout the competitions will be INVITED to invitational meets and may advance to OTCH (Obedience Trial Champion). I love doing these and find it challenging and a great way to test my skills. I am not competing against other trainers but instead agains an identified standard. What better way to assess my skills.
Anna BoothAwesome. I'm inspired! I love that. Thank you for this wealth of info. It's fantastic. You're a gem. Thank you for taking the time with me...
This would be a great thread for our readers. Would you mind posting it for all? I am asked these questions frequently. Maneuvering through all of the certification jargon can be daunting to those who don't know. That is exactly what some trainers prefer. This way you think you are getting something, BUT it actually means nothing.