Have you ever asked yourself if your pup is a good dog? Silly, everyone believes their pup is a good dog. But perhaps considering that your pup is well behaved and listens well is often something else. I’ve seen many a pup pretty much do whatever they want to. This is why training at an early age is so important, not just for your sake, but your pup’s as well.
Canine Good Citizen
To help entice owners to train spend the time to properly train their pups, the AKC began offering an award called the Canine Good Citizen award. It’s a test designed to test your pup’s ability to handle themselves in this world we live in.
Basically, the test covers the basics of their interaction with strangers, you, and other dogs. These are important for your pup to know, even if you aren’t pressed to achieve an award for good behavior. The behavior is the reward itself.
Covering the basics
How your pup reacts with you is of course the most basic of skills. “Sit”, “down” (lay), and “stay” are all important. These are necessary to show that you have the ability to control your pup. The recall and release are also important to ensure that your pup listens to you and provides a good sense of obedience. These basic skills are learned through time spent with your pup, and as with any teaching, must be learned early on.
How they act with others
The ability to be separated is another point of interest. Many dogs don’t seem to do well with becoming separated from their owners, and will seldom listen to others. This situation is important since we aren’t always around our pup. Groomers, the vet, and even a puppy-sitter all may handle your pup at some point when you’re not around. This helps ensure that your pup doesn’t develop or suffer from separation anxiety which can prove very hard on a pup.
The next set of tests will involve the interaction between your pup and a friendly stranger. Since meeting new people is inevitable, it is important for your pup to form a friendly relationship with others. At an early stage in puppy life, you might consider throwing them a puppy socialization party where they can be surrounded with strangers (your personal friends preferably) and learn how to act around other people. Here, it will be important that your pup still obeys you, but will not act aggressively and also has the ability to answer to simple commands such as “sit” and allow themselves to be petted. It is also important for you pup to be able to walk through a crowd of pedestrians without becoming agitated or anxious. The last thing you want is to have to chase a wild Rover through a crowd of people.
Since people are not the only part of society, how your pup acts around other dogs is also important. They should be able to handle themselves with proper introductions (sniffing not snapping). Introducing your pup to other pups at an early age is important to ensure good behavior. Of course, you should never leave your pup unattended with strange pups. You need to be present in order to correct inappropriate behaviors and enforce the good ones. (As a hint, food can prove precious to a dog, so when introducing your pup to others, avoid involving food and treats.)
A little noise and a well-poised pup
Distractions do happen. Loud noises, other dogs, cars, and even cats can all be easy distractions for your pup. In order to affirm that you have the utmost obedience from your pup, they must be able to avoid and ignore these distractions while listening to you. This is possibly the best test, since it not only solidifies your bond, but can save a pup from being lost or having an accident if they chase a moving vehicle.
A well-behaved pup is a good pup. Although I’m sure we all believe our canine friend to be the best dog in the world, it is important that they behave that way around us, strangers, and other dogs. With proper training, time well-spent on developing social skills, and some training techniques to help things along, any dog is capable of being a good canine citizen.