Is Your Dog a Good Citizen?

By far most students that come to my school for training do not wish to become obedience or agility champions, but merely want a well-mannered dog; a dog that they can take on walks without being pulled along; a dog that can calmly and appropriately greet other dogs they meet either on or off-lead; a dog that knows how to greet people who approach him; a dog that will come when called.  To this end the South African Kennel Union has compiled a test which, when passed, certifies that your dog is a good citizen!

The test has three levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold.  To give you some idea of what is required at the Bronze level, the tasks that your team, consisting of yourself and your dog, need to pass are:

Test 1 :  ACCEPTING A STRANGER

This Test is to see that a stranger can approach the dog and handler in a casual, everyday situation. Ignoring the dog the Evaluator will walk up to the handler and greet him in a friendly way and shake hands. The dog must show no signs of resentment or shyness and must not leave his position to go to the stranger. Sitting politely for petting by a friendly stranger, with the dog sitting at the handler’s side, the Evaluator pats the dog only on the head and body, and then circles the dog and handler which completes the Test. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.

Test 2 :  PUTTING ON A COLLAR AND LEAD

The dog should have a well fitting buckle or slip collar of leather, fabric or chain. Special collars such as “pinch” or “spike” collars are not permitted. The lead must be either leather or fabric.

Test 3:  PRESENT FOR EXAMINATION ON A LEAD

The purpose of this Test is to see if the dog can be examined by a Judge or a Vet without it becoming aggressive or flinching. On a lead the handler will present the dog to the Evaluator for a gentle examination of its mouth, teeth, throat, eyes, ears and feet.

Test 4:   GROOM

The Evaluator will inspect the dog to see if it appears healthy, is clean and  groomed and will permit a stranger such as a vet or groomer to examine it. The Evaluator then combs or brushes the dog and lightly  examines the ears and front of each foot to see if it will accept grooming from someone  other than its owner

Test 5:   PRAISE/PRESENTATION

The Test is to demonstrate that a dog can be calmed easily following praise or play and can leave the Test in a well mannered fashion. The handler may praise the dog verbally, by petting, by playing with a toy and/or via a favourite trick, in the allowed ten (10) seconds of play and then must calm the dog for the next test.

Test 6:   RELEASE FROM LEAD, PLAY WITH OR WITHOUT TOY, RECALL AND ATTACH LEAD

The purpose of this Test is to see if a dog can play happily off lead and be recalled and be put back on lead. The handler will release the dog from the lead and either play with it or throw some object for it to fetch and play with, then recall the dog and place back on lead.

Test 7:   WALK ON LEAD WITHOUT DISTRACTION (WALKING ON A LOOSE LEAD)

The purpose of this Test is to demonstrate that the handler is in control. The dog must be on the left side of the handler but need not be in the “heel” position. There should be no doubt that the dog’s attention is on the handler and it responds to movements and changes of direction. The course taken must include a left turn, right turn, an about turn, a stop in between and at the end of the Test. The dog does not have to be perfectly aligned with the handler, nor sit when the handler stops.

Test 8:   WALK ON LEAD, PASSING THROUGH A DOOR OR GATE

The dog should walk confidently through the door/gate and should not shy away from it.

Test 9:   WALK ON A LEAD PASSING PEOPLE AND DOGS

This Test is to demonstrate that the dog should have no difficulty in walking through pedestrian traffic. The dog should walk around close to at least four (4) persons one of whom should have a dog. The dog may show interest in the strangers and the dog, but should continue to walk without any evidence of shyness or over exuberance and should not be pulling at the lead. Throughout this Test the handler may encourage, praise or talk to the dog.

Test 10 :  REACTION TO ANOTHER DOG

This Test is to demonstrate the proper behaviour in the presence of other dogs. Starting at a distance of ten (10) metres from each other, two handlers walk towards each other, meet, stop, shake hands, exchange a few words and continue for about five (5) metres. The dogs should demonstrate only casual interest. Neither dog should go to the other dog or handler.

Test 11:  LIE DOWN AND STAY TO COMMAND

This Test is to demonstrate that the dog has some training and will respond to the handler’s commands. Taking reasonable time, the handler commands the dog first to “sit” and then to “lie down”, using as many commands as he likes. He must not force the dog into position. The “stay” command is then given and the handler walks about seven (7) metres from the dog and returns at a natural walking pace to the dog, which must maintain its position until the handler returns and the Evaluator gives permission for the dog to move.

Test 12:   REACTION TO DISTRACTIONS

This Test is to demonstrate the dog is confident at all times when facing a distraction. The Evaluator must select two (2) of the following for this Test (they need not be the same for each dog).

1. Simulation of a handicapped person with crutches, a walker or a wheelchair (manual or motorised).

2. Sudden opening or closing of a door or solid gate.

3. Dropping a large book or similar object behind the dog but no closer than three (3) metres.

4. A jogger passing in front of the dog.

5. Good natured pushing or shoving or animated talk, excited talk and back slapping by people, with the dog and handler passing within three (3) metres.

6. Someone pushing a pram, or shopping cart from the front or rear and passing within two (2) metres of the dog and handler.

7. A cyclist passing in front or from the rear within two (2) metres of the dog and handler.

The dog may express natural curiosity and interest and may startle, but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness or bark.

Test 13:   SUPERVISED ISOLATION

This Test is to demonstrate a dog can be left alone if necessary, whilst maintaining its training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like “would you like me to watch your dog while you make your call?”, both to add a touch of reality and to accentuate the fact that leaving a dog tied up and unsupervised is not condoned. The dog will be attached to a two (2) metre line. It does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, howl, pace unnecessarily or show any behaviour with a mild agitation or nervousness.

NB. Tests 12 & 13 may be conducted in a group.

Why not go through the list today, and see how many of these tasks your dog can complete.  A participant may take all the Tests at one time or singly, as they wish. As each Test is completed, the Evaluator will mark the Test Sheets “Passed” or “Not Ready”.  Participants whose sheets are marked “Passed” may pass onto the next Test. Those marked “Not Ready” will have to be tested again on that  particular task.

Once all the Tests have been completed and marked “Passed” and signed off, the Club or organising body will issue the dog with a rosette and a numbered KUSA Canine Good Citizen Certificate and return their copy of the completed Test sheet to KUSA for record keeping.

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