Canine Good Neighbour Program

The Canine Good Neighbour Program has been developed by the Canadian Kennel Club to encourage and support responsible dog ownership and to ensure that dogs are accepted as valued members of the community. The program is a series of 12 tests that assess your relationship with your dog and your dog’s manners in a variety of everyday situations.

TEST 1Accepting a friendly stranger

This test demonstrates the dog’s ability to allow a friendly stranger to approach and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday manner.

Description of Test

The evaluator will walk toward the handler and dog and greet the handler in a friendly manner, shake hands with the handler and ignore the dog. The evaluator is assessing that the handler is in control of the dog and that the dog is not threatened by the approach of a stranger.

Handler and Dog

  1. As the evaluator approaches, the handler may tell the dog to sit and quietly reassure the dog.
  2. The handler may not hold the collar tightly or in any other way restrain the dog.
  3. While it is not necessary for the dog to be sitting, it is important that the dog does not break position, move toward or interfere with the evaluator.

Dogs that exhibit the following will be rated as “Not Ready”:

  1. The dog displays an overly exuberant attitude.
  2. The dog leaps or attempts to leap up on the evaluator.
  3. The dog hangs back or tries to avoid the approaching evaluator.
  4. The dog exhibits fearfulness, resentment or shyness.

Training Tips

Dogs must not be allowed to jump on people uninvited. Training a dog to sit while people greet the handler calms the dog, and reassures people of all ages that the dog is well behaved. The secret lies in teaching the dog to remain sitting without having to assist with the leash. A taut leash encourages a dog to pull forward and jump, or be worried. Practice with family and friends at first, until you no longer need to use the leash to make the dog sit and stay beside you. Be positive in your manner. A dog takes its cue on how to behave from the handler. If the handler is friendly and relaxed, the dog should be the same.

TEST 2 – Politely accepts petting

This test demonstrates the dog’s ability to allow a friendly stranger to pet it while it is out with its handler.

This test is a natural progression from Test 1. In most intstances, when encountering a friend or acquaintance with your dog, the dog will be included in the conversation and will usually be petted.

Description of Test

The evaluator will request permission to pet the dog and will then proceed to pet the dog on the head and shoulders. The evaluator is assessing whether the dog remains calm while a stranger pets it.

Handler and Dog

  1. The dog is to be sitting beside the handler (either left or right side is acceptable).
  2. The handler may talk to his/ her dog throughout the exercise.
  3. The dog does not have to maintain the sitting position but must remain in place.
  4. If the handler commands the dog to sit and the dog does not respond, the handler may lightly touch the dog on the hindquarters but may not physically force the dog into a sitting position.
  5. The handler may not physically restrain the dog either by use of the collar or any other method.

Dog that exhibit the following will be rated as “Not Ready”:

  • The dog is not steady when a stranger pets it.
  • The dog attempts to jump up.
  • The dog exhibits resentment or shyness.

Training Tips

Add to the training for Test 1 by having friends and family pet the dog gently on the head and shoulders, speaking in a friendly fashion as they do so. Teach the dog to stay sitting on a loose leash beside you. Praise the dog while it sits nicely. Reposition the dog in a sit if it should get up. Once the dog sits quietly to be petted by people it knows, introduce the dog to a variety of strangers who will behave in a similar manner. If a dog is uncertain of strangers, carrying a food treat for the stranger to offer the dog, with your permission, may reassure the dog at first. If a dog is so uncertain as to continue to hide behind you, or growls or threatens in any way, seek professional advice for your training.

TEST 3 – Appearance and grooming

This practical test demonstrates that the dog will accept being groomed and examined and will permit a stranger to do so, such as a veterinarian, groomer, friend of the owner etc. It also demonstrates the owner’s care, concern, and sense of responsibility for the dog’s well being.

Description of Test

The evaluator will ask for the grooming tool before the test begins. The evaluator will inspect the dog to determine if it is clean, groomed, appears in good health and in good weight. The evaluator will lightly examine the ears, teeth, eyes and each front foot of the dog and softly comb or brush it on the body. The evaluator will then walk behind the handler and dog, returning to face the team. The evaluator is testing for shyness and/ or resentment.

Handler and Dog

  1. The handler will provide the evaluator with the grooming tool before the test begins.
  2. The dog is not required to maintain a sitting position.
  3. The handler may encourage the dog during the test.
  4. The handler may use light collar pressure in position the dog, but not physical restraint.

Dogs that exhibit the following will be rated as “Not Ready”:

  • The dog exhibits shyness or resentment.
  • The dog is not clean, well groomed, does not appear healthy or in good weight.

Training Tips

Dogs should be accustomed to being handled gently but firmly on any part of their body, whether lying down, sitting, or standing. Regular grooming should be pleasurable for the handler and dog alike. Dogs may be especially nervous of people touching their paws. Remember to stroke and handle the dog’s paws when you pet him. While looking at a dog’s teeth is not part of the test, it is useful for you to practice doing so. Ask your trainer, veterinarian or groomer to show you how. Do keep your dog clean and at a healthy weight for its size and build.

TEST 4 – Out for a walk

This test demonstrates the ability of the dog to walk politely on a loose leash as well as the handler’s ability to control the dog.

Description of Test

At the beginning of the test, the evaluator will indicate to the handler the area in which they are to walk. The handler will walk in a straight line, demonstrating at least one right and left turn as well as a 180-degree turn. The evaluator will be assessing the dog’s ability to walk quietly near the handler without pulling the leash taut. The evaluator will note that the dog responds to the handler’s changes of direction.

Handler and Dog

  1. The dog may be on eight side of the handler. The handler may talk to his/ her dog throughout the exercise.
  2. The handler may speak quietly to the dog throughout the test.
  3. The dog is required to walk near the handler without pulling or straining.
  4. The leash should be loose in order to demonstrate that the dog is under control and is not being steered by the handler.
  5. The handler and do are required to walk a straight line, make at least one right and one left turn as well as a 180-degree turn.
  6. The dog is not required to sit when the handler stops walking.

Dog that exhibit the following will be rated as “Not Ready”:

  • The dog does not respond to the handler movements and changes in direction.
  • The handler must pull the leash taut to control the dog.
  • The dog does not walk quietly without restraint.
  • The dog is not attentive to the handler.

Training Tips

Soon after a puppy is accustomed to walking on a leash, the handler should teach it to not pull, nor hold the leash taut. The leash should be merely a reminder to the dog that the handler wishes the dog to remain close by, and a way of keeping the dog safe from distraction if need be. In formal obedience training, the handler teaches the dog to sit each time they halt, whether at a road, or for any other reason. Training the dog to sit when the handler stops is useful. For a dog that is formally trained, the handler may use any of the dog’s training commands and skills during the CGN Test.

TEST 5 – Walking through a crowd

This test demonstrates the ability of the dog to walk politely beside the handler in pedestrian traffic while remaining under control at all times.

Note: The requirements for this test are the same as test 4, except the dog may only show mild interest in the strangers.

Description of Test

The evaluator will instruct the handler to walk with the dog (on either the handler’s left of right side) through and by a group of several people (at least 5). The evaluator is assessing the dog’s ability to maintain a position close to the handler without being unduly stressed or becoming unruly, as well as the handler’s ability to control the dog.

Handler and Dog

  1. The dog should remain on one side of the handler for the duration of the test.
  2. The dog is not required to maintain a heeling position beside the handler but may not be so far ahead or behind the handler as to create an impediment to individuals walking by.
  3. The handler may talk to the dog and provide verbal encouragement and praise during the test.
  4. The handler may not steer the dog with the leash.
  5. The dog may show mild interest in the strangers but should not go to them.

Dog that exhibit the following will be rated as “Not Ready”:

  • The dog displays more than mild interest in the strangers or goes to them.
  • The dog is straining on the leash and displays excessive exuberance.
  • The dog exhibits shyness, resentment or is jumping.
  • The handler is unable to control the dog.
  • The dog becomes stressed or unruly.

Training Tips

Once the handler has trained the dog to walk politely on the leash, he should take the dog to a variety of location to practice further. A will-behaved dog should ignore distractions of all kinds, people, other animals, noises and unusual sights. Socializing a puppy by taking it in to situation that will be expected to cope with as an adult dog is extremely helpful. Handle the puppy or inexperienced do in a positive manner, introducing new sights and experiences gradually, so as never to frighten it. Be relaxed and matter-of-fact in new situations, and the dog will learn to copy the handler’s reaction.

TEST 6 – Sit/ Down on command and stay in place (long line)

This test demonstrates the dog’s ability to respond to the handler’s commands to sit and down and to remain in place on command.

Note: Tests 6 and 7 require the use of a long line provided by the sponsoring organization.

Description of Test

The evaluator will provide the handler with a 6 meter (20’) which the handler should attach to the dog’s collar prior to the commencement of the test. The short leash should be removed once the long line is attached. The evaluator will instruct the handler to place the dog in either a sit or down position, command the dog to stay, and walk to the end of the long line. The handler will then turn to face the dog and promptly return to the dog. The evaluator is testing for the dog’s response to basic commands.

Handler and Dog

  1. The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and may use more than one command to sit or down the dog.
  2. The handler may gently touch the dog in an effort to assist the dog in assuming either the sit or down position.
  3. The handler may not physically place or force the dog into position. The handler may repeat a command and use signals and gestures to assist the dog as well as a light touch.
  4. Once prone, the dog must remain in place.
  5. Once the dog is in either the sit or down position, the handler is to command it to “stay”, then walk away from the do to the end of the long line.
  6. Once reaching the end of the long line, the handler will turn to face the dog and without pausing return to the dog.
  7. The handler is not required to walk behind the dog in returning to the heel position.
  8. The handler is not required to wait for the evaluator to indicate an end to the test after he returns to the dog.

Dog that exhibit the following will be rated as “Not Ready”:

  • The dog does not respond to basic commands of sit or down.
  • The dog does not obey the command to stay in place.

Training Tips

All dogs should be taught to understand these commands, which are very useful in a variety of situations. Dogs can be taught to sit and lie down in a variety of ways. Often puppies are taught first with a food lure, or they can be given a command and gently placed into position. With repetition, they should respond consistently to a command or gesture. The stay also takes practice. Begin by teaching a puppy or dog to hold a sit or down for a few seconds, then get up to be praised by the handler. A “release” word, such as “OK”, said before praising to indicate the dog may now move, is really useful, although it is not a requirement for the test. Over a few weeks, increase the time the dog is required to hold position, and the distance the handler walks away. Be careful to avoid teaching a dog that the moment you turn toward it after walking away that you wish it to come to you. Make the dog wait before you call, or just go back to the dog, so it learns to wait for what you want. For the test, the handler needs to learn to use a long line without accidentally pulling on the dog, or making the dog think the handler wants it to come. Practice by using a rope at home if you do not have a long line (long leash). You can tie it to a leash snap so it is easy to put on and take off the dog’s collar. (It is very convenient to use a long line when first teaching a dog to stay at a distance from you, and to come reliably in strange locations, so you are not concerned that the dog might run away.)

TEST 7 – Come when called (long line)

This test demonstrates the dog’s ability to come when called by the handler.

Note: Tests 7 and 8 may be combined so as to flow from one to the next.

Description of Test

The long line remains attacked to the dog’s collar. The evaluator will stand near the dog and instruct the handler to position the dog in either a sit, down or stand position. The handler will command the dog to “stay or wait” and then will walk a distance of 3 meters (8-10’), before turning and calling the dog. When called, the dog must come close enough for the handler to touch it. The evaluator is checking whether the dog will remain where left and will respond quickly to the handler’s command to come.

Handler and Dog

  1. The dog may change position, but must remain in place when waiting for the command to come.
  2. When called, the dog must come at a reasonable speed without stopping to sniff or wandering off.
  3. The dog may drop its head to sniff, but must continue towards the handler.
  4. The dog must come close enough for the handler to touch it but is not required to sit.
  5. The handler may use body motions and verbal encouragement.

Dog that exhibit the following will be rated as “Not Ready”:

  • The dog does not remain in place when the handler walks away.
  • The dog does not come on command at a reasonable speed.
  • The dog sniffs or wanders off. (It is acceptable if the dog drops its head to sniff, but continues toward the handler.)

Training Tips

Handlers need a dog to come to them reliably and willingly. This test demonstrates a successful beginning level of teaching a dog to come. Using a long line ensures that the handler is relaxed and confident in maintaining control of the dog. A handler must always be positive and encouraging in calling a dog, and praise it warmly for coming. It helps to bend down and pat your knees to show the dog where you wish him to come. If the dog comes slowly at any time, shuffle backwards, encouraging the dog with words and gestures. Never chase a dog, grab for it, or punish it after it has come, or you will destroy its trust in you. During the test, food treats or toys are not allowed.

TEST 8 – Praise/ Interaction

This test demonstrates that the dog can be easily calmed following play or praise.

Description of Test

The evaluator will instruct the handler to command the dog to “Come”, and then to commence a play session with the dog. After about 10 seconds of play, the evaluator will then instruct the handler to calm the dog. The evaluator is assessing both the handler’s control of the dog and the dog’s ability to respond quickly to the handler’s command to settle.

Handler and Dog

  1. The handler may use any combination of verbal praise, and playful postures, gestures or actions to engage the dog in play or in the performance of tricks.
  2. When calming the dog, the handler’s voice may be firm but must not be angry.
  3. The handler may use more than one command to calm the dog but the dog must display an attitude of controlled behaviour following calming efforts on the part of the handler.

Dogs that exhibit the following will be rated as “Not Ready”:

  • The handler is using forcible leash pressure to calm the dog.
  • The dog does not settle quickly.
  • The handler does not have control of the dog.

Training Tips

The purpose of this test is to provide the evaluator with an opportunity to observe the interaction between dog and handler. It also tests the handler’s ability to settle the dog following play. A handler should practice making a dog respond to commands even during play. The sit, down, or stay command is frequently the most effective choice. Teaching a dog to wait before retrieving a toy can be helpful.

Test 9 – Reaction to passing dog

This test demonstrates the dog’s polite behaviour while in the presence of other dogs and handlers.

Description of Test

The test is set up using another handler/ dog team that are not being evaluated. This team is placed 6 meters (20’) from the handler and dog being tested. The handlers and their dogs will approach on another, stop, shake hands, briefly chat and continue on past each other for approximately 2 meters (6’). The dog being tested should exhibit no more that casual interest. The evaluator is assessing behaviour on the part of the dog and the handler’s control of the dog.

Handler and Dog

  1. The handler should command the dog to heel before beginning to walk toward the other handler/ dog team.
  2. Upon reaching the other team, the handler would command the dog to sit, thereafter greeting the other handler and chatting briefly.
  3. The dog may not be restrained.
  4. The dog may show mild interest in the other handler and dog but may not move toward the other dog, or exhibit shy or aggressive behaviour.
  5. The handler may use additional commands to ensure a response from the dog but may not jerk or grab it.

Dogs that exhibit the following will be rated as “Not Ready”:

  • The dog does not respond to the handler’s instructions.
  • The handler is forced to jerk or grab the dog.
  • The dog moves toward the other dog.

Training Tips

Not all dogs are friendly, nor is it suitable that all dogs sniff and play with each other. Handlers should always be respectful of other handlers’ wishes. A dog should not be allowed to participate in any playgroups until the handler has enough control to be able to call the dog away from the group promptly at any time.

Test 10 – Reaction to distractions

This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when face with common visual and auditory distractions found in everyday life, such as a the sudden opening or closing of a door, crutches, wheelchair, baby stroller, loud noises, etc.

Description of Test

The evaluator will instruct the handler to begin walking with his dog on a loose leash beside him. Several people will walk by in any direction using one or more distractions. The distractions will not be an attempt to frighten the dog, but rather something the dog encounters in everyday life, such as baby strollers, walkers, canes, someone carrying a ladder, etc. The evaluator is observing the dog’s reaction to the distractions as well as the dog’s response to the handler’s commands.

Handler and Dog

  1. The handler may command the dog to walk at heel while the individuals walk by.
  2. The handler may speak encouragingly to the dog, but may not steer the dog with the leash nor attempt to restrain the dog.
  3. The dog may startle but should recover quickly.
  4. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity.
  5. The dog may bark once or twice.

Dogs that exhibit the following will be rated as “Not Ready”:

  • The dog shows panic, tries to run away.
  • The dog does not respond to the handler’s commands.
  • The dog shows fear.
  • The dog continues to bark.

Training Tips

Dogs should be socialized to accept noises and sights of many kinds. Take a dog to a variety of locations and walk him through these areas to accustom him to new experiences. The handler should remain calm and matter of fact, and gradually acquaint the dog to anything that worries it. Never place a dog at risk, or force him to accept unusually frightening distractions. Carry a young puppy through busy areas, so he is not at risk of being stepped on, and can look at anything unknown to him from the safety of your arms.

Test 11 – Supervised isolation

This test demonstrates the dog’s ability to be left alone with a trusted person other than its handler, while maintaining a calm acceptance of the situation.

Description of the Test

The handler will walk with the dog to a designated person (assistant evaluator), and hand over the leash. The handler may command the dog to sit or lie down and wait/ stay. Then the handler will leave the area and go to a pre-designated location, out of sight of the dog. The handler will wait 3 minutes until called to return by the assistant evaluator. The evaluator is observing the dog’s ability to maintain good manners when left alone with another person. The dog may show some mild stress, but should not bark, pace or pant excessively. Neither should the dog attempt to climb up on the assistant, nor pull away. (If the dog should become excessively agitated, the evaluator will call the handler back before the time required, and the dog will be judged “Not Ready”.)

Handler and Dog

  1. The dog does not have to maintain position or place with the assistant evaluator.
  2. The dog may not show signs of excessive stress.
  3. Mild stress or nervousness is acceptable behaviour.

Dogs that exhibit the following will be rated as “Not Ready”:

  • The dog attempts to climb on the assistant evaluator.
  • The dog continually barks, whines, howls, paces or pants excessively.
  • The dog pulls on the leash in an attempt to get away.

Training Tips

Dogs should be taught to accept separation from the handler. Teaching a dog to sleep in a crate or bed, or stay in a room apart from the handler, or in the yard, is a practical application of this training. It helps greatly if you are calm and casual whenever you leave or return to your dog. Handlers should use common sense whenever leaving a dog alone. The length of absence should be reasonable for the age and training of the dog, and the dog should be left confined in an area that is safe for it. Handlers should be careful to never tie a dog in public unless they are right at hand to supervise and protect the dog. Children should be allowed to supervise a dog only if an adult is present. You can practice for this test on your own by tying the dog in a safe place where you can observe it at all times. Gradually build up the time you leave the dog to slightly more than the required test time, while you remain in view. Then start going out of sight for just a few seconds at first. Wait until the dog is comfortable and relaxed when you are out of sight for a short time period before increasing your absence to the full time.

TEST 12 – Walking through a door/ gate

This test demonstrates the dog’s response to the handler’s commands as well as the handler’s ability to control the dog in a restricted area while moving ahead of the dog and thought a door/ gate.

Description of Test

The handler will command the dog to sit and wait. The handler will then walk through the opening (door/ gate). Once through, the handler will instruct the dog to walk through the opening and return to the handler’s side. Alternatively, if the opening is large enough for the two of them to pass through simultaneously, then the handler may instruct the dog to maintain a steady position beside the handler as they walk through the opening together. The evaluator is assessing the dog’s ability to respond to commands from the handler as well as the handler’s ability to control the dog in a restricted area.

Handler and Dog

  1. The handler may talk quietly to the dog as they approach the opening.
  2. If walking through the opening simultaneously, the dog should maintain a loose leash throughout and should not lunge forward in an attempt to pass through ahead of the handler.
  3. In the event the opening is too small, the handler may quietly command the dog to wait (or sit and wait) while the handler walks through.

Dogs that exhibit the following will be rated as “Not Ready”:

  • The handler does not have control of the dog or jerks the dog in an attempt to maintain control.
  • The dog does not obey the handler’s command.
  • The dog lunges or charges ahead of the handler.

Training Tips

A dog should be taught to never rush through a doorway ahead of the handler. Teaching a dog to wait before telling it to go through, whether beside or following the handler, prevents many problems behaviours of dogs at home or in public. A dog that is taught to wait will not run out of a door unexpectedly to escape, or chase anything, Make it a rule that you always instruct a dog to wait before you permit it to go through doors (even car doors) or gates leading to any public area. Teaching the dog to pause and wait with the handler once it has gone through a doorway or gate is also sensible.

There, you did it!

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