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What is Good Canine Leadership?

Read about the process of Good Citizen Testing

Tips on Choosing a Boarding Facility

Benefits of Using the Dog Park

Training your dog

Disaster Planning for your Pet

Foxtails — A Deadly Summertime Danger

Emergency First Aid Tips

Toxic Foods and Plants for Dogs


What is Good Canine Leadership?

Like children, dogs need guidelines and boundaries.  Good leadership will earn your dog’s respect and help him to feel secure.   Here are a few ways to establish leadership:


The Leader Controls the Resources.  Just as parents control allowance, curfew and use of the car, you should control all the "good stuff" when it comes to your dog.  FOOD is an incredibly valuable resource.  As such, it should come from you, not from that round thing that is always magically full!  Feed once or twice daily, rather than leaving food down.  For dogs with severe leadership issues, or to kick-start your program, hand-feed meals (a few pieces at a time) for two weeks. Have your dog sit or perform another behavior for each bit of food.  Control TOYS & GAMES. Leave your dog with a few toys, but reserve the really special ones for when you are present. Bring these special toys out periodically and play with them, with your dog.  Now you are also the source of all fun!  Note: Playing tug is fine as long as you control the game, and your dog knows "Leave it".  (If not, teach "Leave it" first.)  Bring the toy out; initiate tug.  Periodically freeze, followed by saying, "Leave it."  When he releases, wait a beat, say, "Take it" and resume the game.  (If at any time teeth touch skin, say "Too bad!"  Game over.)  When you’re finished playing, put the toy away where your dog can’t get to it.


Put Your Dog on a Learn to Earn Program.  That means your dog must do something in order to earn anything that is valuable to him. If your dog wants to be petted, ask him to sit first.  If he’s already sitting, ask him to lie down.  Then pet.  Have him sit (or perform another behavior) before meals, treats, walks, a toss of the ball, and anything else he finds valuable.


Should you allow your dog on the furniture or your bed?  If there are no leadership issues and he will get down when asked, no problem! For dogs who are pushy and think they’re in charge, no furniture/bed privileges until leadership is better established, and then only when invited.


Does your dog zig-zag in front when you walk, crowd you as you sit, or otherwise get in your space?  Not acceptable!  For zig-zaggers, keep your feet firmly on the floor and shuffle right on through.  Your dog will learn to move when human legs approach.  If you are standing when your dog crowds you, use your lower body to gently push him away.  If you are sitting, fold your arms and gently move him away using your upper arm or forearm—do not speak or look at him.  At doorways, either push him aside gently with your lower body or step in front to block his path.  It is not always necessary for you to pass through doorways first, but shoving is not acceptable!


Practice obedience exercises and incorporate them into your everyday life.  Down-stays are especially good for establishing leadership. Keep practice sessions short and frequent.


Teach your dog to accept handling.  Do a daily massage that includes paws, ears and mouth.  This practice also makes for easier groomer/vet visits and alerts you to any physical abnormalities.


Good leaders are not bullies!  Reprimand verbally when necessary, then forgive and move on.  Do not use harsh physical corrections. Use praise and rewards to let your dog know when he is doing the right thing.  Above all, be a kind and patient leader!


©2000 Gentle Guidance Dog Training    



Read about the process of Canine Good Citizen Testing

ACCEPTING A FRIENDLY STRANGER:  This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation.  Evaluator approaches and shakes hands with handler; does not touch the dog.


SITTING POLITELY FOR PETTING:  This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler.  The evaluator pets the dog and then leaves the dog and handler.  The dog must show no shyness or resentment.


APPEARANCE AND GROOMING:  This test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit a stranger, such as a veterinarian, groomer, or friend of the owner, to do so.  Evaluator inspects the dog, combs or brushes lightly, examines ears and each front foot.


OUT   FOR   A   WALK:     This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog.   The dog may be on either side of the handler, whichever the handler prefers.  There must be a right turn, left turn, and about turn, with one stop in between and one at the end.


WALKING   THROUGH   A   CROWD:     This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic.  Dog and handler will walk close to several people; dog may show some interest without appearing over exuberant, shy or resentful.


SIT   AND   DOWN   ON   COMMAND/STAYING   IN   PLACE:     This test shows the dog has training, will respond to the handler’s command to sit and down and will remain in place.  Dog does sit and down, then handler walks to end of 20-ft. line and returns.  Handler may choose to leave the dog in sit or down for the stay.


COMING   WHEN   CALLED:     This test demonstrates the dog will come when called by the handler.  With dog on 20-ft. line from Test 6, handler walks 10 feet from the dog, turns and faces the dog, and calls the dog.


REACTION   TO   ANOTHER   DOG:     This test demonstrates the dog can behave politely around other dogs.  Two handlers and their dogs approach, shake hands, exchange pleasantries and continue on.  Dogs should show no more than a casual interest in each other.


REACTION   TO   DISTRACTIONS:     This test shows the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distractions.  Dog may show casual interest but may not panic, show aggressiveness, or bark.


SUPERVISED   SEPARATION:     This test shows the dog can be left with a trusted person and will maintain its good manners.  Dog will be on a 6-ft. leash; leash is held by an evaluator while handler is out of sight for 3 minutes.


OVERALL BEHAVIOR IN IMMEDIATE TESTING AREA:   Evaluators may withhold the CGC certificate if a significant incident is observed (eg:  dog bites a person or another dog) in the immediate testing area.




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