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Posted on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 5:19 a.m.

Canine Good Citizen program teaches humans how to bring out the best behavior in their dogs

By Lorrie Shaw


Any breed can participate in training.

flickr photo by _dChris

One thing that any person — dog lover or not — appreciates is a well-behaved pooch, whether they are in public or visiting someone's home.

I find that, by and large, most dog owners want to be totally involved with the process of unfolding their dogs into members of the family that are a joy to spend their lives with, in and out of the home.

It's a very exciting time when a puppy or new adult dog comes into the family.There's a lot of help available in the areas of partnering with a veterinarian, choosing the right food and method to use to nourish a pet and getting a dog license, but quite often I find that people are feeling "all-thumbs" in one area: Dog behavior and training.  

Most dog owners are not interested in a level of formal obedience that is done in a competitive sense; they just want a dog that is pleasant to live with and can get along with other dogs and likes humans of all ages.

That seems simple enough, right?

While good training methods and excellent leaders are out there for families to seek out, it can be daunting to know where to start — and it's no wonder. There are so many choices in that area.

I always tell people that the best way to get off on the right paw, so to speak, is by making a sound choice about pairing yourself with the right dog — the right breed — for your lifestyle and being honest with yourself about the time that you can truly invest in creating the best life possible for your new pet.

You'll have an opportunity to attend an event that can lead you to the next step in just a couple of weeks.

The Canine Good Citizen Program, started in 1989 by the American Kennel Club, is designed to edify dog owners about responsible dog ownership, enabling them to teach their dogs good manners.

The Ann Arbor Dog Training Club will be offering the Canine Good Citizen Test on Wednesday, March 21 at AADTC from 7-9 pm.

Great as a basic foundation in dog training, many people decide to use the CGC as a springboard to other activities, such as competitive obedience, tracking or agility, and the program is a gateway into therapy dog work. In fact, dogs that are involved in the Michigan Inmates Providing Assistance Work & Service program — or MI Paws as it's known — work toward CGC certification. Read more about MI Paws by clicking here.

To advocate the benefits of sound behavior in canines, state legislatures began recognizing the CGC as a model for how this can be achieved.

A practice session where the test will be described and have a run through will be held on Wednesday, March 14 at 7 p.m. at AADTC There is a $10 charge for the practice and $10 for the test. Pre-registration is not required. Those who want to come and observe are welcome.

Lorrie Shaw is leads the pets section for and has written about effective ways to curb negative behavior in dogs using positive reinforcement. She welcomes your contact by e-mail and invites you to tag along with her on her daily pet adventures as a dog walker and pet sitter on Twitter.


Woman in Ypsilanti

Thu, Mar 1, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

I sometimes wonder if it would be worth it for our community to formally encourage this kind of certification. Maybe with free tags to the dog park for anyone who completes it?

Lorrie Shaw

Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

Actually, I agree. Encouraging training for the humans and dogs alike is important. A colleague and I were discussing this a few months ago. As far as resources go, it seems to me that there are few that seem within reach to new dog/puppy owners, as is seen in my personal experience. I think that if more pet owners had incentives to do stuff like this, it would certainly motivate people take part. That's an excellent point - thanks for bringing that up!