September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month. Spunky Dogs is celebrating by hosting an event with Rally Obedience and fun circus trick workshops as well as CGC testing. For those of you in the Seattle area you can find out more here.
For all the rest of us, we can honor this month by brushing up on our basic manners and a great place to start is with the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test. The Canine Good Citizen test is 10 simple exercises that do a great job of reflecting real-life scenarios that the average social dog might encounter. Below are the ten exercises
Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger — This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation.
Test 2: Sitting politely for petting — This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler.
Test 3: Appearance and grooming — This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so.
Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead) — This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog.
Test 5: Walking through a crowd — This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places.
Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place — This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler’s commands to sit and down and will remain in the place commanded by the handler.
Test 7: Coming when called — This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler.
Test 8: Reaction to another dog — This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs.
Test 9: Reaction to distraction — This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations.
Test 10: Supervised separation — This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners.
The test must be done on leash with flat collar or rear-attach harness and without the use of food or treats.
A review of these exercises is a great way to gauge our progress and help us pinpoint areas that need more work. A good introductory basic manners or puppy class with a qualified reward-based trainer is a great start. If you need more help, the AKC has introduced a helpline, GoodDog!, for questions and problem solving.