Canine Good Citizen: Test Prep

The Canine Good Citizen program rewards responsible dogs and their owners who demonstrate good manners when out and about.  Come along with us while we measure Kitto’s progress against “doggy-Kindergarten” standards and prepare him to take the test at November 2017’s Great Indy Pet Expo.

Your dog can complete this certification too, and will love to practice with you.    This link is to a training video that covers all of the steps in order, from the point of view of a professional dog trainer.  Below are shorter videos that explain each test in brief.

Accept A Friendly Stranger

The dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation.

Likely Pass: Kitto is very friendly, and does not show “resentment or shyness” in this situation.

Work On: Dogs in the video show patient reservation / lack of excitement commonly seen in mature dogs.  Kitto also does not sit automatically when we stop moving.

Sitting Politely For Petting

The dog will allow a friendly stranger to pet it while it is out with its handler.

Coinflip: Kitto likes to greet people, but is wriggly with excitement.

Work On: Sitting without moving while being petted.  Kitto can already do extended sit/stay and down/stay for a few minutes at a time.  We need to transfer that skill to a distracting away from home greeting context.  Something like “Pose” would work well for both this skill and for the next one.

Appearance and Grooming

The dog will permit someone to check it’s ears and front feet, as a groomer or veterinarian would do.

Likely Fail: Kitto will tolerate brushing, but would rather play with the brush like a toy.

Work On: Sitting without moving while being petted/groomed.

Additional: We need to desensitize Kitto to the brush.  It’s not his favorite activity and we haven’t done much to address this.  He would likely not sit politely for this step today.

Out for a Walk (walking on a loose lead)

Following the evaluator’s instructions, the dog will walk on a loose lead (with the handler/owner).

Likely Fail: We practice with Kitto on a normal six-foot lead, and usually give him about four feet of slack.  In the videos, the dogs have very little lead, barely enough to give them any choice in direction.  This is probably a good training context because the dog is likely to pay more attention to the walker this way.

Work On: Walk on short lead.  Kitto isn’t far from passing this one as he can already walk without pulling (on good days) and he does understand how to look at us and follow what we’re doing.  It’s time for us to make this a focus.

Walking Through a Crowd

This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three).

Likely Pass: Kitto often walks with us through crowds, and he is polite and under control.  He is calming / less excited the more we do this, and the older he gets.

Work On: Continue Training.

Sit and Down on Command and Staying in Place

The dog must do sit AND down on command, then the owner chooses the position for leaving the dog in the stay.

Likely Pass: Kitto already does this and more complicated versions.  At home with strong distraction (like a different human trying to trick him into releasing without the handler’s permission), he’ll hold a stay for a few minutes even if we walk out of sight or if there is food on the ground.

Work On: Continue Training.

Coming When Called

This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler (from 10 feet on a leash).

Likely Pass: Kitto already does this, as long as he doesn’t think we’re playing “Catch The Husky,” a game he does love to play if we let him.  This isn’t a behavior we encourage, for obvious reasons.

Work On: Continue Training.

Reaction To Another Dog

This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries.

Coinflip: Kitto is very good with other dogs, but he is not quite as blasé about this interaction as dogs in the videos are.  He gets better and better, and has moments where we think he’s a year or two older than he is… and the next moment, he acts like a puppy.

Work On: The “sit when Handler stops moving” behavior is important here, and the videos don’t stress it.  Kitto in a natural sit/stay WOULD be fine in this situation.  He would literally be anchored to the ground, and in that “working” mode he would be on best behavior naturally.  We’re not there yet today, but this will be easy to polish up.

Reaction to Distraction

The evaluator will select and present two distractions such as dropping a chair, etc.

Likely Pass: We constantly work on Kitto in this area, without emphasizing it as a special skill.  Kitto thinks we are naturally clumsy, dropping things here and there, making surprise noises when there’s no clear reason for it.  He’s learned to brush it off as long as nothing is crashing down around him.

Work On: Continue Training.

Supervised Separation

This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, “Would you like me to watch your dog?” and then take hold of the dog’s leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness. Evaluators may talk to the dog but should not engage in excessive talking, petting, or management attempts (e.g, “there, there, it’s alright”).

Likely Pass: Separation anxiety is common in Alaskan Klee Kai.  We’ve avoided it as an issue because Kitto is always with a family member or a good friend/neighbor.  This has worked out to a lucky context for us to gradually wean him of a strong instinct to be with us all the time.  We constantly train basic skills at increased distance, duration, and distraction, adding time out of his sight, food on the ground, etc.

Work On: Continue Training, adding especially new contexts and environments.  We can leave him alone at home for an hour or so, where he is comfortable.  That will be the easiest environment to start working in with a friend to hold the leash.

Go, Kitto, Go!  You can do it!


A couple of fun links to celebrate the heroes who come before us:

A Day in the Life of Fraser : A Pet Therapy Dog

Congratulations to Ammo the Dachshund for passing his CGC and TDI tests!

Klee Kai Off Leash Obedience (Our Favorite AKK Training Video Ever!)

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