Several people brought their dogs to a Farm Dog Fun Day on Saturday to see what would be expected during an AKC Farm Dog Certification trial. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Several people brought their dogs to a Farm Dog Fun Day on Saturday to see what would be expected during an AKC Farm Dog Certification trial. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – On Saturday, around 25 dogs and their handlers participated in a Farm Dog Fun Day, where dogs could go through a practice run of the 12 test elements that they would go through to become American Kennel Club (AKC) Farm Dog Certified.

AKC Farm Dog Judge Cinthia Lee held the workshop event at her farm on Van Wert-Willshire Road. Lee is a member of the Fort Wayne Obedience Training Club, and many of the members from the club were in attendance with their canine friends. Lee, who has Beninese Mountain Dogs, has three of her dogs Farm Dog Certified.

“This is a newer title that came out with AKC back in 2017,” said Lee. “It’s a pass or fail test. You have to pass two trials under two different judges in order to submit for your title.”

“It was designed to asses the overall conduct of a dog in a typical farm environment,” added Lee. “The dog must demonstrate self-control when exposed to livestock and other unique sights, sounds, and scents. The dog must exhibit confidence and a willingness to comply with instructions when confronted with a variety of situations.”

Lee said there is actually a farm dog program for 4-H, which she hopes to see in Van Wert one day. She noted that the certification is under herding dog regulations, but the dogs do not herd and do not have direct contact with livestock under the Farm Dog Certification.

Twelve test elements were available on Saturday for participants to practice. Tests included greeting the judge, walking around the farm and a passive stranger, jumping on a hay/straw bale and stay for 10 seconds, walking past farm animals, walking over or through unusual surfaces, supervised separation, passing through a gate, dog is tethered while handler feeds livestock, dog remains stationary while another dog walks by, reaction to noise distraction, dog approaches livestock, and a physical examination where the handler must examine the dog for plant material or debris collected while working on the farm.

“We try to meet the needs of our members and our community,” said Lee, who noted that the workshop was, in part, put on to allow members from the Fort Wayne Obedience Training Club to see what all is involved in the test. However, the fun day was open to anyone. “The benefit for today is to see what it is like to do an actual trial. When I got mine tested, I had no clue what to expect. This exposes them to what the elements are so they can be prepared for trial.”

Members of the Fort Wayne Obedience Training Club also participate in scent trials, agility trials, obedience and rally trials, and more.

Lee was joined by AKC Farm Dog Judge Sharon Cullmann, who brought her German Shepherd Dog, Daphne. Daphne is German-bred from one of the oldest kennels in Germany. She is trained in a variety of aspects and is a therapy and disaster dog. Daphne was taught to understand commands in German.

In order to have an actual trial to get a dog certified as a Farm Dog, handlers must submit paperwork to AKC at least six weeks in advance to the trial.