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Be Good Canine Citizens

Advice from an expert on training your dog to be well-mannered.

Peggy Frezon and her dog

My dog Kelly jumps up on visitors when they come to the door. She can heel when we walk down the street, but she pulls and barks when spying other dogs.

“You should look into the Canine Good Citizen program,” my friend Ellen said one day. Her German Shepherd recently passed the test and earned his certificate. Sponsored by the American Kennel Club (AKC), the program rewards dogs (purebred and mixed breed) who display good manners at home and in the community. What a great idea! I was excited to participate but first, Kelly would need some practice.

In addition to basic commands such as sit, stay and come, here are some of what your dog needs to know to be a good citizen.

1. Behave politely around people.
Your dog should allow a friendly stranger to approach. When your dog is being petted, he shouldn’t spin around like a top, but he shouldn’t shy away either.

2. Behave politely around other dogs.
Your dog should never show signs of aggression. It’s acceptable to show interest in the other dog as long as she remains in control.

3. Cooperate for veterinary examinations and grooming.
It’s not easy to be poked and prodded, but no nipping!

4. Walk on a leash without tugging or pulling ahead.
 He will not have to heel perfectly, just walk with you evenly. Behaving like a Greyhound at the races is a definite no-no.

5. Remain calm when left with someone.
We know she loves you. But she should be able to separate from you for a short time.  

Kelly and I are anxious to begin. Maybe you and your dog can join us. For more information, visit the American Kennel Club website.

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