Canine Good Citizen

Jan 9, 2021

Ranger sits at attention, focused on his human!
Credit born1945 [Flickr]

`Training your dog is time well spent - for both of you.  It provides mental stimulation, exercise, and builds a solid and lasting relationship between you and your pet.  You will be a better friend to your furry buddy, and you will find you have a true companion that will be devoted to you!


More than thirty years ago, the American Kennel Club launched the Canine Good Citizen Program, to encourage and support owners with dogs that have good manners both at home and in the community. It is really a two-part program, stressing responsible pet ownership for people and basic good manners for their dogs.

In order to become a Canine Good Citizen, a well-behaved dog should respond to seven basic commands – “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “come”, “heel”, “off” and “no”. These essential commands will do more than just ensure your companion is a good citizen – they can help to keep your pet out of dangerous situations. For example, it could enable you (using only your voice) to stop your pet from running out in front of a car while chasing a ball.

The secret to teaching your furry buddy to respond to any command is training; but, one important thing to remember is that training is not about teaching your pet that you are superior. The goal is clear communication with your best friend, to improve the dog’s behavior and response in social situations, and to strengthen the bond that naturally forms between human and pet.

There is a lot of information about dog training available online. Whether you have a pure-bred or a mutt, one good starting place might be the American Kennel Club web page for the Canine Good Citizen program. It lists the ten skills you and your dog must pass together, like accepting a friendly stranger, and walking through a crowd. There is also a list of local clubs in your state that offer training and testing.

January is National Train Your Dog Month! And after mastering the basics, you might even decide to continue with training in other areas, such as agility activities, or search and rescue - or as a therapy dog if your pet has the right temperament.

Think of time you spend in any training as an investment, because the more positive interaction you have with your furry friend will help make life more enjoyable and fulfilling for both of you, when you’re speaking of pets.