Teach Your Dog to be a Good Canine Citizen

For thousands of years dogs have been our trusted companions, our protectors, our workers and our friends. Dogs have herded our sheep, guarded our livestock, protected our properties and brought love and warmth to our homes. Unfortunately, however, ill mannered dogs have also caused great damage to personal property, to livestock and pets and even to other people. It is essential, therefore, for every dog owner to teach his or her dog to be a good canine citizen.

A big part of this canine citizenship training is learning to accept and play appropriately with other dogs, as well as to get along with cats and other common pets. It is essential for any dog to learn these lessons, but it is especially important for breeds which have been bred to have aggressive tendencies or hunting skills.

For instance, sight hounds have been bred for centuries to have a strong prey drive, and while that prey drive is appropriate in the hunting field it is not so appropriate when the dog is chasing the neighbor’s cat up a tree. And aggressive dogs which have been bred to protect personal property need to be taught to keep those aggressive tendencies in check when dealing with humans who mean them no harm.

Fortunately for pet owners, many communities and organizations offer classes in good canine citizenship and dog training. Those who buy a new puppy, no matter what the breed, should be sure to ask the breeder for a puppy kindergarten recommendation. Those who adopt an older dog from a shelter should be sure to ask the shelter personnel what type of training they recommend. These simple and inexpensive courses can do a great deal to help dog owners enjoy all the fun of dog ownership while avoiding problems.
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One comment

  1. Dear Big Paws:
    The notion of good canine citizenship is an excellent one. As a Manhattan resident and a frequent visitor at dog runs I will attest that there is indeed such a thing and at the better dog runs you can see it in action. And as you suggest, good canine citizenship represents a successful partnership between human and dog. An uncivilized owner will invariably produce an uncivilized dog. As I’ve observed many times: Owners fall into categories just as easily as their pets. There seem to be two major pet-owning characters: the Apologizers and the Apologists. The Apologizers take the blame for everything their dog does or does not do. They do so vocally and with body language, usually sweeping gestures of surprise and shrinking postures of shame.The Apologizer seems shocked that his or her dog would push through the legs of a crowd at the intersection or do a Number 2 right in the middle of the street. The Apologist is the exact opposite. He –it’s usually a he— seems to take pride when his hundred-pound junkyard dog mounts someone’s long-haired Chihuahua or gobbles down a child’s ice cream. The Apologist’s animal is like a surrogate free spirit that keeps the owner safely removed from the bad behavior while permitting him to strut the streets of Manhattan with caveman bravado.
    Indeed, these owners often set the tone for their animal’s behavior bringing out the best or exacerbating the worst qualities, and in Manhattan with its confined spaces and need for civilized behavior (if only to make life bearable), your call for canine civility has particular relevance.

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