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Make Your Dog a Canine Good Citizen

At least one million dogs in the United States can be trusted to behave politely in society and they have the papers to prove it.

These dogs have earned the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen Award by successfully completing a ten-step test that judges their behavior in every day situations.

Could your dog pass the test? See the steps required to earn the distinction of a Canine Good Citizen. The Wisconsin Humane Society offers Canine Good Citizen testing. Call 414-431-6156 for more information.

In order to earn the distinction of canine good citizenship, a dog must successfully pass all ten steps of the canine good citizen program.

Canine Good Citizen Test:

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger.
    A friendly stranger approaches and speaks to the handler in a natural everyday manner but does not pet the dog. The dog must maintain his good manners.
  2. Sitting for petting.
    This step requires the dog to allow a friendly stranger to pet the dog and depart. The dog must not show shyness or aggression while being touched. 
  3. Accepting grooming. 
    This step requires the dog to cooperate while being groomed and examined by a stranger, such as a veterinarian. The evaluator inspects the dog, combs him lightly and examines ears and each front paw.
  4. Walking and turning for the handler. 
    This step requires that the handler be in control of the dog. There must be a right turn, a left turn and an about turn with a stop in between each turn and one at the end.
  5. Walking through a crowd.
    This step requires that the dog move about safely in pedestrian traffic. As the dog and handler walk close to other people, the dog may show interest, but must not be overly exuberant, shy or aggressive.
  6. Responding to basic commands.
    This step requires the dog to respond to the handler's commands of "sit" and "down". Handlers then walk 20 feet away while the dog waits for the handler's return.
  7. Coming when called. 
    Handlers walk ten feet from the dog, then turn and call the dog. 
  8. Behaving in the presence of a strange dog. 
    Two handlers and their dogs approach, shake hands, converse and then separate from each other. The dogs should show no more than a casual interest. 
  9. Reaction to distraction. 
    The evaluator will select and present two distractions. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity and/or may appear slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise it throughout the exercise.
  10. Supervised separation. 
    Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, "Would you like me to watch your dog?" and then take hold of the dog's leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness.