Dogs of all breeds and sizes, and their two-legged companions are invited to a fun-filled afternoon of mingling with other canine lovers and their prized pooches as the Stephenville Kennel Club of Texas hosts Dog Day Afternoon at the Park Saturday.

The event is not just fun and games, however, and is an opportunity for pet owners to test their dogs’ neighborly skills through the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Program.

According to Mary Weigandt, kennel club member, hobbyist, professional trainer and CGC evaluator, the 10-part test will evaluate dogs’ ability to accept strangers, sit politely, walk on a loose lead, walk through a crowd, sit on command and stay, come when called, react to another dog, react to distractions, deal with supervised separation and look at appearance and grooming.

“The Canine Good Citizens test asks dogs and their handlers to show that they can be good neighbors,” Weigandt said.

And the test is not restricted to pure breeds, all dogs are encouraged to participate - registration is just $10 per entrant. The AKC will send certificates to all dogs who make the mark.

Unlike some kennel competitions, Weigandt said Saturday’s event will offer a friendly, no pressure day of instruction and evaluation. 

“When you first teach a dog to come, handlers should be encouraging. It should be a happy moment, full of slapping noises and happy calls,” Weigandt said.

To participate, shot records must be current and dog owners will be asked to sign forms stating they will be responsible pet owners.

In addition to the test, a sample rally course will be set up with pathways leading to signs that will allow two-legged ralliers and their four-legged friends to try their skills at following directions and completing simple tasks, such as sitting and downing.

“Rally courses are more relaxed titling events,” Weigandt said. “They allow handlers to interact with their dogs in a very relaxed, fun event.”

Finally, kennel club members will be on hand to answer questions on topics like grooming, nutrition and training. A variety of breeds will also be available for viewing and interaction, including a Havanese, Retriever, Poodle and Collie.

“Attendees may even get to catch a glimpse of breeds they have yet to see,” Weigandt said.

The event will be held from 1 - 4 p.m. Saturday at the small pavilion at Stephenville City Park.

For more information, call Weigandt at 817-894-1594.