Training for an Endless Summer of Good Dog Citizenship

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-Training For An Endless Summer of Good Dog Citizenship-

Spring and Summertime are the best times to be outdoors and have fun. Swimming, surfing, hiking and camping beckon us all to the great outdoors. And of course vacations are on everyone's mind for the summer. But how best to include our furry four-legged family members?

With our tips and suggestions, your dog can and will become a trustworthy public companion and citizen in Summer 2017. Since most of our readers are huge dog trainers and parents who've already well trained their dogs, we'll be offering up this post as a 101 for new dog parents and parents of puppy dogs on how to best train your canine companion for an endless summer of good dog citizenship. With the expertise of Susan Garrett, we've written before about the best practices of dog training and we must admit training your dog doesn't have to involve a whole lot of work. If you love your dog like we do, it can be fun and satisfying for both you and your dog.


-The Good Citizenship Training-

The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) was created by the American Kennel Club (AKC) to recognize and reward "responsible pet ownership" and basic good manners for dogs. While we don't agree with everything the AKC does as an organization, we do believe that the Canine Good Citizen test is one of the accessible and efficient ways of both fostering responsible pet owners and well mannered dogs. It's for this reason we'll be offering up this program as a 101 for new dog parents and parents of puppy dogs on how to best train your canine companion.

To receive a CGC certificate, your dog must pass a 10-part test. The certificate includes the following tests:

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger
  2. Sitting politely for a petting
  3. Appearance and grooming
  4. Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
  5. Walking through a crowd
  6. Sit and down on command and staying in place
  7. Coming when called
  8. Reaction to another dog
  9. Reaction to distraction
  10. Supervised separation

Since we believe some of these aspects are not entirely necessary as it relates to being out in public and on best behavior, we'll just be giving you all a cliff notes and plain English version of how to start training in these areas.


-Good Citizenship Training Steps-

When you're ready to start training, make sure you wear comfortable shoes and a watch, as well as bring a couple of treats in your pocket for positive reinforcement. The first thing you need to teach your dog is to walk nicely on a loose leash. In some public areas, dogs are required to be on a leash by law, so this is very important to have a comfortable and high quality leash. Your dog doesn't need to be as exact as in regular obedience training; he just needs to learn not to pull on the leash, balk, or jump around wildly.

Put the slip collar on your dog's neck correctly, (slip the chain inside itself to make the form of a "P". Make sure it slips easily back and forth). Next, clip the leash on, and with the dog on your left side, happily call his name with "heel" after it. Hold the leash in both hands, jerk it, release quickly and start walking. If he lunges ahead, jerk the leash to put him back by your side, praise and continue walking. Make circles and turns, while praise your dog and talking to him often. Make your dog as comfortable as possible and they will eventually become less apprehensive. Every minute or so, stop and make your dog sit by pulling up on his collar and pushing down on his hindquarters while telling him to "sit". When he does so, praise him immediately and give him a treat. This positive reinforcement will ensure these skills are learned and remembered.

Continue with this routine for about 15-20 minutes. Praise him all through the training! At the end of the training session, play a happy game with him. If you train your dog every day with this routine, he should be walking and sitting nicely for you in a couple of weeks.

The next important exercise to teach your dog is the "come". This command is especially important if you're out hiking or at the beach. Put your dog in the sit position, stand in front of him and run backwards while calling his name happily with "come"! If you have to jerk the leash to encourage him to come to you, do so. Make him sit in front of you. Praise him and give him a treat. Practice this lesson along with the heeling and sits every day for no longer than 30 minutes. He soon will be running to you whenever you call him.

A fun game to teach your dog is the "fetch" using a tennis ball. With the dog off leash, get him excited about the ball. Toss it up in the air, bounce it etc, and talk excitedly about what a good dog he is. When he has his eye on the ball, toss it about 10 feet away in front of you and give him a command such as "fetch" or "go get it"!  If he runs and picks the ball up, immediately praise, and call his name with "come"! You can run backwards, clap your hands and squat down to encourage him to come to you with the ball.  Praise him and take the ball from his mouth. Keep on tossing the ball further and further away. Repeat the exercise until he gets the idea. Most dogs find this game easy and fun to master. This game is especially great on the beach, and is good exercise for your dog.

After you teach your dog to heel nicely, sit, come and fetch, you will be able to take him with you on your fun summer activities!  Always make sure to take bottled water and his bowl with you and be sure to never leave your dog in a closed car!

You'll get better and faster results if you train and practice with your dog every day for 20-30 minutes. Since you're not going to teach him formal obedience, you should be able to complete his good citizen training in a couple of weeks. Of course this depends on the dog's temperament and the frequency of your training sessions. After his training, he'll be ready to join you in just about every one of your outdoor activities this summer!


-Outdoor Dog Training Products-

Training your dog to behave properly in society doesn't require much equipment, but you do need to set up a training program for both of you. The equipment you'll need is a high quality leash and collar, a bag of your dog's favorite treats and your dog's favorite toy. We also recommend some doggy bags for the inevitable messes ;)