Among the collar bling that Joey regularly wears is his AKC Canine Good Citizen medallion. It hangs right next to his dog license and the blue metal bone tag offering a reward for his return should he ever get lost
The program is the only thing sponsored by the American Kennel Club (AKC) that would welcome a dog of Joey’s mixed ancestry.
The program, established in 1989, is designed to promote responsible dog ownership and to encourage training dogs to be well-mannered. It is often viewed as the first stage toward qualifying as a therapy.
- Accepting a friendly stranger
- Sitting calmly for petting
- Allowing his feet to be touched and his fur to be brushed (basic grooming activities)
- Walking on a loose leash
- Walking in a crowd of people
- Sitting, lying down and staying in place on command
- Coming when called
- Behaving appropriately when meeting another dog
- Behaving appropriately to distractions
- Calmly tolerating separation from the owner while under supervision
Joey and I took the exam after several weeks of training at J9’s K9’s. Joey was so pleased when the exam was over that he zoomed the room. We were among the few pairs in the room not planning to do the additional training to get certified as a therapy dog.
Joey is shy and pulls away from strangers. He barks when he feels threatened. He doesn’t have the temperament to be a reliable therapy dog. (Although he did well regularly visiting a friend’s father, who has Alzheimer’s and lives in a nursing home. But that was repeated visits to the same kind man who delighted in seeing Joey and feeding him treats.)
A Canine Good Citizen certification is hardly a PhD in dog training. It does signify that Joey passed the test of several behaviors that don’t come instinctively to him. Most of all, it shows our recognition that we share the sidewalks with other people and other dogs.