Canine Good Citizenship: Can Your Pup Pass the Test?

making your dog a good canine citizen

Canine Good Citizenship: Can Your Pup Pass the Test?

You’ve got a great dog — but is he/she a good citizen?

The American Kennel Club (AKC)’s Canine Good Citizen program was designed to reward dogs with good manners at home and in the community, as well as their owners.  A 10-step basic obedience test is required to earn the official AKC Canine Good Citizen title.

As a professional dog trainer, my dream is that all dog owners aspire to this goal.

Most of us don’t think we have the time to train our dogs to become good citizens. The good news, however, is that most dogs are more than capable — and willing — to put the work in!

Ask yourself, “Shouldn’t every dog have the social skills to simply be a part of our society?”

Dogs have become the teachers, assistants, friends and guardians of their human chaperones. We haven’t even begun to realize the things they are capable of understanding and the ways in which we can work together.

Canine Good Citizenship is a good base for any dog’s core obedience training. Several therapy dog programs are now requiring citizenship as a prerequisite for service as well.

By teaching your dog to be a good citizen, you are increasing the amount of quality time you can spend together.

Many restaurants, hotels and vacation destinations welcome Canine Good Citizens, which means your dog can travel with you rather than be left at home. Your dog’s Canine Good Citizen status may entitle you to discounts or other benefits with some organizations and can also be an advantage when renting or leasing a home.

In addition, your groomer, veterinarian, and boarding facility will all be thrilled to have a better customer, patient and guest.

During the certification process, your dog will learn great social skills with other dogs and people, making him/her an all-around joy to live with.

Do yourself and your dog a favor and invest your time into making his/her life as long and happy as possible. Take a therapy dog training course or contact an evaluator to be tested. If your dog fails the first time around, you’ll know what to work on and your dog will be eager to try again.

The following core obedience items are tested by a certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator. After signing the Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge, owners and their dogs are ready to take the test.

  • Accepting a friendly stranger

  • Sitting politely for petting

  • Appearance and grooming

  • Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)

  • Walking through a crowd

  • Sit and down on command and staying in place

  • Coming when called

  • Reaction to another dog

  • Reaction to distraction

  • Supervised separation

For more information on Canine Good Citizen testing requirements, click here.

By Cathy Mayer, CPDT-KA - Cathy Mayer is a certified professional dog trainer and owner of Take The Lead Canine Training in Encinitas, CA. 

Take the Lead Canine Training will be enrolling dogs for Canine Good Citizen and therapy dog training classes beginning in August. Please email Cathy at [email protected] if you are interested in signing up. Of course, your veterinarian is also always available to help you get your dog on the right track with their behavior and training, so never hesitate to give them a call. Don't have one yet? We can help you find a local veterinarian

Contributing DVM