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Canine Good Citizen

Training a dog requires time and patience!
State Farm
Training a dog requires time and patience!

You may think the American Kennel Club is interested only in keeping track of which animals are pure-breds.  That is one of their primary activities, but there’s a lot more to owning a dog than just determining its breed.  That is why another of their main goals is to promote responsible dog ownership.  That means making sure your pet is well-cared-for, well-behaved, doesn’t bother your neighbors and generally stays out of trouble.  In fact, you can help your best friend become a Canine Good Citizen by passing a test established by the AKC.  So, what’s on the test?

     For starters, your dog must show that it doesn’t become upset by a friendly stranger that approaches to talk to you or to pet your dog.  You must be able to walk with your pet on a leash, without pulling or straining to go faster or in a different direction, and especially no jumping up on people.  Your canine friend must know and obey the commands to sit, stay and lie down, and then come to you when called.  And your pet must be calm and well-behaved even when other people or animals are around.

     The Canine Good Citizen Program is really an evaluation of the dog and its owner.  Dogs who pass the test receive a certificate designating them as Canine Good Citizens.  The test is administered by authorized American Kennel Club evaluators.  You can find one in your area by going online to and selecting your state to find an evaluator near you.  Once your pet is certified as a Canine Good Citizen, you might want to move on to other types of training and activities, such as obedience or agility events. 

     The benefits of training your dog to qualify as a Canine Good Citizen go beyond just having a well-mannered pet.  You will find that you are a better pet owner, your dog is a happier animal, and the bond between the two of you is stronger than ever.  Even the American Kennel Club knows that, in the end, it’s really all about the relationship, when you’re speaking of pets.

Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.