When we adopted Knox, I had so many plans for him. He’d be the best dog ever: friendly, happy, well-behaved, and know all the tricks.
While for the most part, Knox is whip-smart and learns behaviours quickly, his reactivity to some dogs and excitement to all dogs quickly made these plans for him seem more and more difficult to complete. For anyone who has a reactive dog will know how daunting it seems to have to train a dog that slips into “crazy brain” really easily.
I had previously read about the Good Canine Citizen (also known as the Canine Good Neighbour) program from the Responsible Dog Owners of Canada. It’s a 10 step test that assesses a dog’s behaviour in every day situations to show that they are reliable family and community members. It’s rewarded to dogs that are trained and conditioned to act mannerly in the home, in public, and with other dogs. Best yet, it’s not limited to pedigree/pure-bred dogs.
As the owner of a pit bull-x, we’re automatically put to a higher standard than all other dog owners, regardless of the statistics, the misconceptions, the misidentifications, and the stigma. A week hardly goes by without someone crossing the street in fear, or someone makes a comment like “aren’t you scared he’ll snap and rip your throat out?”
It became of utmost importance to me that Knox had a good reputation in our building (he does), and he’s calm and friendly to not just all the dogs we’ll encounter, but especially the untrained, unsocialized ones. I will fully admit that Knox is still an optimistic dummy when it comes to seeing other dogs – even when a dog is barking at him out of fear, he’ll think it’s just a way to start playing. It’ll be difficult, and it’ll be a long way to go, but he we can do it.
Here’s a fantastic video of a (pitty cross?) dog going through the Canadian Canine Good Citizen test.
There’s hope! With this in mind, the CCGC certification is now our checklist for training.
- Accepting a friendly stranger: Owner shakes hands with a friendly stranger. This test displays a dog’s acceptance of unfamiliar adults and children.
- Patiently sitting for petting: A test for shyness and defence of personal space.
- Appearance and grooming: Reveals owner’s care and sense of responsibility for their dog.
- Out for a walk: Illustrates handler’s control of his or her dog.
- Walking through a crowd: Demonstrates that the dog moves around in a crowd without being unduly distressed and is under handler control.
- Response to commands “sit”, “down”, “stay” and “come”: This exercise exhibits that the dog is trained and responds well to its handler/owner.
- Praise/Interaction: Shows the dog’s relationship with its owner and that the dog can be calmed down easily.
- Reaction to passing dogs: Demonstrates that the dog behaves politely around other dogs.
- Distractions: Illustrates that the dog is confident when faced with common distractions.
- Supervised isolation: Reveals that the dog can be left with someone other than its usual handler and will maintain its training and good manners.
- Walking Through a Door/Gate: Demonstrates the dog’s response to the handler’s commands as well as the handler’s ability to control the dog in a restricted area while moving ahead of the dog and through a door/gate.
Is your dog a certified good canine citizen? Have you heard of it, and now what you have, will you try and pursue it?