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Canine Good Neighbour, A Good Idea for Every Dog

The Canine Good Neighbour Test is an evaluation that rewards basic good manners and temperament with a title and certificate from the Canadian Kennel Club.  Responsible dog owners train their dogs to behave appropriately around people and other dogs in public and at home.  The Canine Good Neighbour test helps prove that these responsible owners have reliable, well mannered dogs that are welcome in any neighbourhood.  All dogs can participate family pet or top show dog, purebred or mixed breed as long as they are over six months of age. 


The test consists of 12 exercises meant to reflect “real life” situations.  Real life means that you can talk to your dog, you can repeat commands and if you see your dog about to make a mistake, like jumping up to greet the evaluator, you can tell them not to.  The test is really like taking your dog out for a walk on a busy street.  Open the door, front door, car door, side gate and make sure your dog doesn’t go through the door without permission, #12 “Walking Through a Door/Gate.  Walk your dog on a loose leash as you walk around and through the other pedestrian traffic, #4 “Out for a Walk”, #5, “Walking Through a Crowd”.  Say “Hi” to a stranger #1 “Accepting a Friendly Stranger” and walk past another dog or two allowing your dog to briefly sniff the other dog and then move on #9, Reaction to Passing Dog”, tell that nice lady “Yes you may pat my dog” and ask your dog to sit while she does so “Politely Accepts Petting” and arguably “Sit” or “Down” on command.  Walk by the garbage can that blows over as you approach, or the lawn mower that just started up letting your dog check it out and be reassured it isn’t dangerous #10, “Reaction to Distractions”.  Leave your dog with a helpful stranger while you go into the convenience store to pick up that essential thing somebody at home just called you about, #11 “Supervised Separation”.   Come out of the store and pat your dog and make a fuss and then before a scene results settle your dog down, #8 “Praise Interaction” and continue on your way, thanking the helpful stranger before you go.  Just for fun ask your dog to, #6 “Sit or Down Stay” walk away 20 feet and call your dog to “Come”… okay chances are you aren’t going to do that as part of your normal walk but those are the other tests.  Your dog should be well maintained, clean coat, nails trimmed ears clean, not over or under weight and up to date on vaccinations and licences where appropriate.  If your dog can do all that successfully then you have done a great job of training and socializing and you could have a certificate that proves it if you take a CGN test.  


The Canadian Kennel Club started the Canine Good Neighbour program in 2002 as a way to answer back against anti dog legislation and the public perception that all dogs are dangerous. The program has been growing steadily since then and with the addition of the RDog (Responsible Dog Owner Groups) initiative the push to have well behaved dogs recognized by the community at large is growing in strength and organization.  In 2009 1579 Canine Good Neighbour certificates were awarded, 930 to purebred dogs, 641 to unregistered or mixed breed dogs.  The Canine Good Neighbour program is becoming more widely recognized as an important part of dog ownership. The next step is to follow the lead of some areas in the United States that have reduced licence fees for Canine Good Citizens, the American equivalent of CGN.  


As human habitations become more restrictive and less tolerant it is more important than ever that we teach our dogs how to behave properly for their, and our, comfort and safety.  Dogs need guidance and training to figure out what is appropriate behaviour in a human environment.  Dogs learn canine communication and appropriate behaviour from their mothers and other dogs.  Sniffing rear ends and play wrestling are totally appropriate in some circumstances and in others not so much.  Basic good manners are necessary for dogs to live comfortably in our midst and if every dog owner taught their dog enough to pass a Canine Good Neighbour test there would be a lot less belief in irresponsible media hoopla and dog laws that make no sense.  A CGN dog and owner team can walk down a busy street without really being noticed.  This is a two edged sword because the noticeable dogs are the ones that cause a problem and the well behaved ones are part of the landscape.  A CGN evaluation pays attention and rewards the people who spend the time to teach their dogs appropriate manners. 


Although the dogs do have to show they have training and the ability to follow commands they don’t have to be perfect.  Obedience trials are for perfection and performance Canine Good Neighbour is about everyday living with dogs so flexibility and communication between dog and owner should be taken into account by any evaluator. 


For more information about the Canine Good Neighbour program and the RDog initiative go to the CKC website,


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