Farm Dog Certified Test

Who may enter?

Who may participate?

Dogs must be nine months of age and either be AKC registered individually with the American Kennel Club, in the FSS program or have a PAL Number,

(insert PAL number link) or dogs enrolled in the AKC Partners Program.

Bitches in season may not compete.

What is the Farm Dog Certified Test?

The Farm Dog Certified Test is a non-competitive event with a simple pass/fail evaluation.  Dogs should demonstrate good behavior and self-control when exposed to the unique sights, sounds and scents encountered in a farm situation.  You might think of it as a Canine Good Citizen for farm life.  It is also designed to encourage responsible dog ownership and help prepare dogs for other AKC events.

The Farm Dog Certified test is designed to test the overall conduct of a dog within a typical farm environment.  The dog must demonstrate self-control when exposed to livestock and other unique sights, sounds and scents. The dog should exhibit confidence and a willingness to comply with instruction when confronted with a variety of situations.  The Farm Dog Certification is not designed to test herding ability.

During the Farm Dog Certified test, safety is an important factor.  The test farm site must be well maintained, with livestock in good condition and in dog proof enclosures.

Dogs must be on a leash at all times unless confined in a crate, kennel or vehicle. The leash shall be four to six feet in length.  A secure, flat collar is required during the test.  Handlers may use verbal or hand signals, and a reasonable amount of praise during the test.  Two attempts may be made to successfully pass each element.  All elements and an overall assessment must be passed.  To be awarded the FDC title, dogs must qualify under two different judges.

Required Elements of the FDC Test

With the exception of the 1st and last element of the FDC Test, elements may be arranged in any order.

  1. Greet the Judge – The handler approached the Judge with the dog on a loose lead. The dog may sit, down or stand at the handler’s side while the Judge performs introduction.  The dog should show patience and control while meeting a friendly stranger.

The dog will not pass is it shows aggressiveness, extreme shyness or is held by a tight lead, or jumps on the judge. 

  1. Perform a walking pattern around the farm environment/ passive stranger.

The dog walks on a loose lead with its handler about 200 feet through a preset pattern of at least 200 feet around a number of objects.  As the facility permits a marked path will guide the handler and the dog around farm equipment, barn aisles.  This element demonstrates the dog’s self-control, the ability to adapt to an unusual environment and responsiveness to the handler.  If the dog shows fear or aggression to the passive stranger or unfamiliar objects.or is repeatedly on a tight lead or refuses to follow the handler he will fail the element.   

  1. Jump on Straw/Hay Bale

This element requires that the handler approach the bale or sacks of feed with the dog on a loose lead.  The handler instructs the dog to jump on the bale or sack.  The dog then needs to stand sit o down on the pile until the judge instructs the handler to allow the dog to jump off.  This element shows both the dog’s willingness to be obedient and his athletic ability.   The dog must be able to jump on the bale independently, and must stay on the bale for at least ten seconds to pass.   

  1. Walk By Farm Animals

The dog must walk with his handler on a loose lead in view of penned farm animals approximately 30 feet away.  The dog should pay no attention to the animals.  This demonstrates the dog’s ability to not disturb livestock.  The dog must not show fear or aggression toward the livestock to pass this element.  

  1. Walk Over or Through Unusual Surfaces.

The dog must walk with his handler over or through three different unusual surfaces.                              One surface shall be plastic (tarp) at least 8’ long and 4’ wide.  The second surface can be wood, such as a sheet of plywood, and a third surface shall represent typical rural terrain such as wire grating flat on the ground, mud, water or a series of three logs.  The skill demonstrated by the dog in this exercise is the willingness to accompany its handler to anywhere necessary to perform “farm chores”.  The dog won’t pass if it refuses to walk over a new surface after two tries, is fearful, requires a tight lead or want to avoid the situation. 

  1. Supervised Separation

The dog will be crated or placed in a free standing kennel without his leash.  His handler will walk out of sight for at least one minute.  This will demonstrate that the dog may be confined temporarily as needed and will continue his good manners out of sight of his handler.  The dog must not appear frantic or exhibit excessive barking.                                                                                                             

  1. Pass Through a Gate

The handler will approach a gait with the dog on a lead.  The dog may stand, sit or down, while the handler swings the gate away from the dog, walks through and calls the dog through the gate.  The dog must then stay while the gate is closed.  This demonstrates self-control on the part of the dog and basic obedience.  The dog must not interfere with the handler operating the gate. 

  1. Handler Feeds Livestock

The handler will feed livestock over a fence or through an enclosure after tying or staking the dog in a designated area.  The dog must follow the stay command and remain in the spot until the handler returns to the dog.  The ability of the dog to stay calm while interacting with livestock is tested.  The dog must remain calm, show no aggression toward the livestock and must not bark excessively.  

  1. Reaction to Another Dog

The dog may sit, stand or down with its handler while another dog is walked by at a distance of 10 feet away.  The dog must be accepting of the other dog and now be unduly distracted.  It must show no fear or aggression.  This shows that the dog exhibits self-control and acceptance of other non-threatening dogs on the property.

  1. Reaction to Noise Distraction

The handler will stand or walk with their dog on a loose lead by their side.  An assistant will create two noises typical of a working form.  The dog should show no fear or sensitivity to the noise. 

  1. Dog Approaches Livestock

The handler with a do on loose lead will enter an enclosure, with livestock within a separate inside enclosure.  The handler and dog will approach the pen so the dog may observe the livestock.  The dog must remain under control while approaching.  The dog should show no fear or aggressiveness.  The handler will go to the end of the lead and call the dog.  The dog must return willingly to the handler and exit the area.  This element demonstrates the dog’s ability to be called away as necessary. 

  1. Physical Examination

The handler examines the dog for any plant material, debris or objects that the dog may have collected while working on the farm.  The handler will examine ears, eyes, mouth, coat and toes to ensure that the dog is free of any foreign material.  This demonstrates the dog’s ability to exhibit patience, obedience, and trust in the handler while being touched and examined.

Overall Assessment

In addition to passing each element, the Judge will determine if the dog consistently exhibited traits that would prevent the ability to be a useful working farm dog.  It is possible to fail even if the minimum requirements of each element are met.  The judge will decide the answer to the following questions regarding the performance.

Did the dog perform in the manner necessary to make it a useful working farm dog?                                Yes (pass)

(No) incessant barking, chronic distraction, constant tugging, timidness, lack of interest or over exuberance) Needs Training

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has complete information regarding this event.  If you would like to learn more about this, visit the AKC website at