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Canine Good Citizenship

A “canine good citizen” is a well-behaved dog, around people, as well as amongst other dogs, at home and in public.

Everyone should want to own or strive for the nature of such a companion animal, a pet that is safe with children and one that any person would welcome as a neighbour – a pleasure to own and a nuisance to no one.

Although this should be the aim of each and every pet owner there is a certain profile in “dogdom” where, in order to become a Canine Good Citizen, the dog must learn certain steps to qualify for this prestigious title after which it is tested by experts in the field. The Canine Good Citizen examination uses a series of exercises and behaviour patterns to evaluate the dog’s ability to show good conduct according to the definition.

A Canine Good Citizen has to demonstrate and pass the following ten tests:

  1. Acceptance of a friendly stranger by allowing the person to approach and talk to the owner in a natural quotidian situation. The dog must not show any signs of timidity or objection to the unfamiliar human being. The dog must not break from its position or try to approach the stranger.
  2. Sit politely for petting. The dog must permit a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with the owner; with the dog sitting next to the owner the stranger must be able to pet it on the head and body only. The stranger must then be able to walk around the dog and its owner without shyness or resentment from the animal.
  3. Appearance and Grooming. The dog must welcome being groomed by anyone, examined by a veterinarian or any other person than its owner. The inspection includes the cleanliness and care the owner has taken on the dog’s ears, teeth, coat, nails, weight, external parasites etc. i.e. the pet must be the epitomy of good health and condition. The unfamiliar human must be able to look in the ears, open the mouth, brush the coat, fiddle with the toes, gently picking up each foot i.e. reasonable intimacy must be well-tolerated. This may be done in any position i.e. standing, sitting, lying down or flat on its side.
  4. Walking on a loose lead proves the owner is in control of his/her canine companion. The dog’s position should leave no doubt that it is focused on its handler and responds to his/her movements and changes of direction. The master and pet dog must be able to do a left turn, right turn, about turn, stop, sit and be spoken to at the same time.
  5. Walking through a crowd demonstrates the dog’s capability of moving about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in busy public facilities. The dog and owner must be able to walk around and pass close to several people. The dog may show interest in the strangers but must continue to walk with its owner without evidence of excitability, shyness, resentment or straining at the leash.
  6. “Sit!”, “Down!”, “Stay!” on command proves whether the dog and its owner have training. There must be an immediate response to the commands of “sit, down and stay” and dog must remain in the position and place as verbally instructed. Nothing may be forced on the dog, nor guided, into any of these positions.
  7. Praise/Interaction is a test to demonstrate that the pet dog can be easily and rapidly calmed following praises or play. The praises may be verbal or petting whereafter the dog must be simply, passively agreeable to it. Play may be in the form of a toy, a trick or game but no food may be used; this may be an active or passive response. After the praise and play stimulus the animal must be capable of walking away with its owner in a well-mannered demeanour.
  8. Reaction to another dog! A Canine Good Citizen must behave politely around other dogs. The dog should be on a lead and only show a casual interest in other dogs on leads. The dogs used in the test should not be allowed to go to each other; it is entirely a determination of a visual and audible response.
  9. Reaction to distractions: When challenged with common distracting situations and stimuli the dog must exhibit confidence but not fear.
  1. In the test one sound and one visual distraction may be used as the challenge e.g.
    • Sudden opening and closing of a door
    • Dropping a large noisy object
    • A person on crutches or in a wheelchair
    • A jogger running past
    • People pushing or shoving each other while the dog walks in close proximity
    • A cyclist approaching from various angles
    • A child running and screaming
  1. In this examination the dog may express a natural interest or may appear slightly taken aback but should not panic, try to run away, bark or show aggressiveness.
  1. Supervised isolation proves that the pet dog can be left alone if necessary and it will maintain its coping skills and good manners learned in obedience training. In the challenge of this test the dog may be tied up or left loose and the owner has to disappear from sight. There should be no signs of separation anxiety which includes whining, howling, barking, pacing, showing agitation or nervousness.

These Canine Good Citizen tests are an international reference in pet obedience and owner control.

A Canine Good Citizen makes for a harmonious human-animal interaction, the dog is a permanent pleasure to own and reliable with children and social activities.

How does your dog fare with these guidelines? How do you shape as a genuine dog owner?

Almost every dog has the potential for becoming a CGC. The programme may be offered by certain dog clubs and canine obedience instructors. The dogs have to be, preferably, trained young and they all enjoy it. The real problem exists with pet owners with time, motivation, dedication and strength of character. Most dogs are trainable. Most people are not!

    1. Free of internal (worms) and external parasites (fleas, ticks and mange)
    2. Vaccinated
    3. Socialised as a puppy
    4. Obedience trained
    5. Sociable with other dogs and pets
    6. Friendly and trustworthy with people
    7. Obeys basic commands
    8. Lead-trained
    9. Easily calmed in company
    10. Well-mannered: does not jump up on people
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