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4-H And The American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Program

By Pam Phillippe

The standard saying is “A Dog is Man’s Best Friend”. The saying should also say Mom’s Best Friend, Son’s Best Friend, Granddad’s Best Friend, the Neighbor’s Best Friend …

A well-trained, mannerly dog can be a true member of the family, the neighborhood, and the community.  A dog with manners is one that all family members, as well as other people, enjoy being around.

The 4-H Dog Project is one way to achieve the goal of a mannerly dog. This project is also an excellent tool for character development of youth. Training a dog teaches one to have patience, persistence,

to speak clearly in short concise statements, and to realize the value of work. Learning to care for a dog teaches one to be responsible, take pride in ownership, to make decisions, and to learn about their behavior.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) started the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program in 1989 as a means of engaging more dog owners in training their canine friends for good manners. CGC is a certification

program that is designed to reward dogs who have good manners at home and in the community.  This two-part program stresses responsible pet ownership for owners in addition to the basic good manners for dogs. All dogs who pass the 10-step CGC test may receive a certificate from the American Kennel Club.

As a 4-H member works with their dog to teach the CGC skills, they discover the many benefits and joys of training. Training enhances the bond between member and dog. Dogs who have a solid obedience

education are a joy to live with – they respond well to household routines, have good manners in the presence of people and other dogs, and they fully enjoy the company of the owner who took

the time to provide training, intellectual stimulation, and a high quality life.  There are 10 training/testing points in the Canine Good Citizen program:

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger
  2. Sitting politely for petting
  3. Appearance and grooming
  4. Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
  5. Walking through a crowd
  6. Sit and down on command and Staying in place
  7. Coming when called
  8. Reaction to another dog
  9. Reaction to distraction
  10. Supervised separation

In a little over one decade, the Canine Good Citizen Program has begun to have an extremely positive impact in many of our communities. This program, done in conjunction with the 4-H Dog Project, can help us assure that the dogs we love will always be welcomed and well-respected members of our communities.  For more information on the 4-H Dog Project or if you would like to start a 4-H Dog Club in your neighborhood, contact the Charlotte County Extension Service 4-H office at 941.764.4345.

Sources:  American Kennel Club, www.akc.org. and 4-H Dog Care and Training Project.