One would hope that a canine good citizen is very much the same as a human one; law abiding sociable and helpful to his fellow man. Well, yes it is apart from the fact that our canine friends need to take a test in order to cal themselves ‘Good Citizens!’
The Good Citizen award is given to dogs to show that they able to live alongside man without being a liability to their family and the community, it also promotes good ownership. Since its conception in 1992 by the Kennel Club, 130,000 dogs have gone through the bronze award. It is the largest dog training scheme in the UK.
How to Become a Good CitizenDogs must follow certain commands and fulfil certain tests before the certificate is awarded. The bronze award is the first test to be taken and is the easiest, the silver and gold will progress afterwards, each being a little trickier than the preceding one. Many dog clubs now encourage their pupils to train and take their good citizen test.
Apart from local training classes, quite often the good citizen test is scheduled at open and sometimes championship shows. Companion dog shows are another place where tests are scheduled and this will be advertised within show schedules.
You need to take with you - your dog, a collar and lead a grooming implement and a bag to pick up your dog’s mess – hopefully you always carry this with you! Check the test you are taking in case there is anything else you need to supply.
Can any Dog Take the Test?Yes, any dog can be a good citizen, although he has to be old enough to have received necessary immunisations such as rabies vaccines.
If you are confidant that your dog is able to carry out all the requirements of the test he may sit the test without having to take lessons. There are currently three levels of Good Citizenship, bronze, silver and gold.
The Bronze LevelIn order to pass the bronze level dog and owner need to be able to complete the following exercises:
- Cleanliness and identification: have a poo bag and be aware that it is an offence not to clear up after your dog. The dog must be tagged correctly.
- Collar and lead: that the collar and lead are correct for the dog and the owner can remove and put on the items correctly.
- Walk on lead: the handler and dog must walk for at least 30 paces with some turns and the dog must be under control.
- Control at gate/door: this shows that the dog can enter and exit doors and gates without pulling or backing away.
- Controlled walk amongst dogs and people: the handler must be able to walk amongst other dogs and people with the dog being controlled at all times.
- Stay on lead for one minute: the dog must stay on lead with the handler in sight five paces away for one minute. The dog may sit or lay.
- Grooming: the handler must show that they can groom the dog without the dog struggling.
- Examination of the dog: the dog must allow the handler to examine all parts of their body (mouth, eyes, ears, toes, etc).
- Return to handler: the dog is let off lead and allowed to play. The handler must call back the dog from ten paces away and the dog must obey.
- Responsibility and care: the handler must answer questions about the care of their dog. These will come from the leaflet ‘Responsibility and Care’ that is available from the Kennel Club along with details about the Good Citizen tests.
Puppy Foundation AssessmentThe puppy foundation assessment is for puppies up to the age of twelve months and is a gentler qualification that guides puppy and owner into how a dog should be a good citizen.
Dogs that have qualified in the normal way for Crufts can also enter another class if they have been awarded their good citizen certificate, whether it’s at bronze, silver or gold level. Each breed listed in the schedule now lists the Good Citizen class and is scheduled after all other classes have been judged in the breed.