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AKC Farm Dog Certification

Have you ever heard of the AKC Farm Dog Certification? It is a fairly new program by the AKC, having…

Have you ever heard of the AKC Farm Dog Certification? It is a fairly new program by the AKC, having been introduced in 2016. It is often referred to as the CGC (Canine Good Citizen) test on the farm! But don’t let the word “farm” throw you off. No, you don’t have to live on a farm to participate. Nor do you have to have a herding or working dog. A farm setting just happens to be the perfect place to take your dog’s training to the next level while further cultivating the bond between the two of you.

What is Farm Dog Certification?

The AKC Farm Dog Certification (FDC) was designed to evaluate your dog’s conduct in a very unique environment. Your dog will have an opportunity to apply what they have learned thus far in diverse and stimulating situations. Self-control is key when your dog is exposed to farm life with all its unusual sights, sounds, and smells. It is amazing to watch a dog’s confidence grow while they listen and dutifully perform in a variety of conditions.

Moreover, Farm Dog Certification demonstrates a dog’s natural capability to work in partnership with their human. Your dog learns and demonstrates its trust in you by willingly complying with your instruction, and remaining calm in novel environments and situations. Trust provides a level of certainty with you and makes your dog feel safe. The steps learned during the FDC test will deepen your bond and help you to become a more “connected” team.

Is my dog eligible for the Farm Dog Certification Test?

This test is open to all breeds. Your dog must be at least 9 months of age and have an AKC number via one of the following:

  • Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL): If a dog is purebred but an AKC Registration Number is not possible, owners can apply for PAL number.
  • AKC Registration Number: This number is provided to a dog owner via a registration certificate received from the previous owner, or via a puppy registration paper given to the new owner by the breeder.
  • AKC Canine Partners Number: This number is given to either mixed breed dogs or a purebred.
  • Foundation Stock Service® (FSS) Number: This number is used for breeds whose status is currently in the foundational stage of being recorded into our registry and requires a copy of the dog’s pedigree.


Dogs with physical challenges (including amputees) are also eligible to enter provided, in the opinion of the judge, they display no signs of physical discomfort and can safely complete the test.

What does my dog have to do to earn its FDC?

The FDC is not a competition, but rather a pass/fail test. In the test, your dog will be presented with the following 12 exercises:

  • Test 1 – Greet the Judge: The dog must be patient and calm on a loose leash, staying by their handler’s side while introductions take place.
  • Test 2 – Perform A Walking Pattern Around a Farm Environment: The handler walks the dog on a loose lead through a prescribed pattern around a number of objects, such as farm equipment, stacks of feed, barn aisles, etc.
  • Test 3 – Jump On Hay/Straw Bale: The handler instructs the dog to jump on a bale of hay (or stack of grain) and stay until released.
  • Test 4 – Walk By Farm Animals: The handler walks the dog on a loose lead in view of penned farm animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, horses, chickens, ducks, etc.. (All livestock is penned or fenced to ensure safety).
  • Test 5 – Walk Over Or Through Unusual Surfaces: The handler walks the dog over three unusual surfaces. This could be a sheet of plywood, a plastic tarp, metal grating, mud, etc.
  • Test 6 – Supervised Separation: The handler places the dog in a free-standing kennel or dog crate, removes the leash, and walks out of sight for a minimum of 2 minutes. The dog should react calmly and with good manners.
  • Test 7 – Pass Through A Gate: The handler goes through the preparation of passing through a gate while the dog waits patiently. Once the dog is inside the gate, the handler instructs the dog to stay while the gate is closed.
  • Test 8 – Handler Feeds Livestock: The dog is tethered and remains calm while the handler approaches and feeds livestock in an enclosure.
  • Test 9 – Reaction To Another Dog: The dog remains still and calm on a loose lead while another dog is walked by twice.
  • Test 10 – Reaction To Noise Distraction: The dog is exposed to two common farm sounds (i.e, hammering nails, leaf blowers, tractor engines, etc.) and must not panic.
  • Test 11 – Dog Approaches Livestock: The handler, with the dog at their side on a loose lead, enters a fenced area that contains livestock (within a separate inside enclosure). The dog must remain responsive and under control while approaching livestock. When instructed by the Judge, the handler will go to the end of the lead and recall the dog to the handler. The dog must comply and willingly return to the handler without tugging.
  • Test 12 – Physical Examination: The handler thoroughly examines the dog for any plant material, debris, or objects that the dog may have collected while working on the farm. The dog must willingly accept the examination by the handler


The AKC has a great video with further detail regarding the Farm Dog Certified Test. If you are interested, I encourage you to watch it!

How do I get involved?

If you’d like your dog to be successful in a test like this but you feel you and your dog are not quite ready, the Professional Dog Trainers at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts can help you design a program to achieve this level of success.

Our Glen Allen Professional Dog Trainer, Melaina, with her two Border Collies, Posey and Coastal, is involved with the Tidewater Herding Club in Smithfield, Virginia, which will be conducting AKC Farm Dog Certified Tests on Saturday, April 8, at the Isle of Calis, which is located at 19393 Spring Lake Drive, Smithfield, VA.

In preparation for this testing, they will be hosting two Farm Dog Socials on February 19, and March 12 at 11 a.m.!

To get involved, you may contact Melaina directly at, or

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