Humans have the opportunity for fulfillment in many areas of their lives – through their work, their families, their hobbies, and their relationships. Many dogs, however, are simply left at home throughout the day, alone and with nothing much to occupy their minds. Dogs without stimulation can very often grab their own opportunities for enjoyment – gardening is a good one. For instance, digging holes in not necessarily the right places, or planting a cell phone right beneath the rose bush are ways to prove their gardening expertise. Many dogs fancy themselves as interior designers, too! Yes, it can be frustrating, it can be annoying, it is often very expensive, but you can deal with it – and don’t blame it on the dog for taking matters into his own paws! It’s up to you to train your dog to be a good citizen.
The Canine Good Citizen® Program was the brainchild of the American Kennel Club (AKC), which has encouraged responsible people how to care for their dogs since 1989. Their canine etiquette program–a happy dog also means a happy dog owner–covers not only being a good citizen in the home, but also helps you and your dog when you are out in public enjoying long walks in the park or roaming down a crowded street. Successful participants are rewarded with an AKC certificate to show that they and their dogs are “good citizens”. It is important to remember that dogs are not born “good” or “bad” – they are simply made that way through correct treatment or through ignorance.
The CGC Program educates both pet parents and their dogs. The dog’s guardian learns how to responsibly care for his dog, and the dogs themselves learn all about basic good manners. A well mannered dog is not only a joy to live with, but also helps to create a much safer environment for both the people and the dog . A well trained dog can be kept safe from potentially dangerous situations, for example.
The Canine Good Citizen® Program is a 10 step, two program test, and everyone who achieves the minimum requirement at each level will officially become a “good citizen” and receive a certificate to prove it. This program is open to all dogs, including mixed breeds, just as long as they’ve had all of their immunization vaccines. There is no upper age limit, either; a dog is never too old to become a good citizen.
There are many CGC evaluators across the US; in fact, this program has now spread across many parts of the world. Once you believe that you and your dog are ready to face the good citizen test, take a look at the AKC website and search for the list of evaluators in your area. Registered evaluators may include private trainers, vet techs, veterinarians, AKC judges, some 4-H leaders – there are plenty of them around.
The success of the CGC has been quite remarkable, and many choose to continue their dog training after this initial step, which includes training their dogs in other areas – such as agility, obedience, or, perhaps, tracking.
Photo: Courtesy of stephskardal via Flickr (CC by 2.0)