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Help Your Dog Become a Good Canine Citizen

Is your dog a gentleman or lady? If so, you may be able to get an award to prove it from the American Kennel Club (AKC) through its Canine Good Citizen Program.

This certification program is for all dogs, whether purebred or mutt. Any dog who has completed his vaccinations can be tested, and there is no upper age limit.

Ten behaviors are tested:

1. Accepting a friendly stranger

2. Sitting politely for petting

3. Letting someone brush and groom him

4. Walking on a loose leash

5. Walking through a crowd

6. Staying in place (sit and down)

7. Coming when called

8. Reacting to another dog

9. Reacting to distractions

10.Being separated from owner for 3-minutes.

If your dog can't pass these, you need to initiate a training program. These are the social skills required for living with humans in urban America.

The tests are done at dog shows, community colleges and private training facilities. The AKC charges $5 for the certificate (if you pass) and some organizations charge a nominal amount for the test ($10).

To find a location, go the AKC website at

I'm really, really encouraging you to take advantage of this program.

You owe it to your dog to assure that he can survive in an urban setting and that he remains adoptable by someone else if something happen to you. Not everyone would put up with a nippy, barking, high-strung dog who thinks he's the king of household.

Your participation also encourages the AKC to continue this program. It's been around since 1989 but hasn't been publicized the way it should.

The AKC raises more than $50M a year from registration fees and does a lot of great work for purebreds.

The Canine Good Citizen is a way for them to help all dogs and dog owners no matter what they're background - something not all AKC members support.

More participation will ensure funding continues and the AKC expands the program.

We're also hopeful that insurance companies and landlords will start accepting the certificates and giving homeowners or renters a break on insurance rates or damage deposits.

With the increase in "dangerous breed" laws and rising homeowners insurance rates when you have a dog, it's important for all our dogs to be good citizens and respected members of the community.

Louise Louis is a long-time dog person and creator of http://www.ToyBreeds.com

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