Training Your Dog to Be a “Canine Good Citizen”
Not many people know that just about any dog can become a therapy dog. There are a number of national therapy dog programs, such as Delta Society program. Each program has its own set of guidelines, but all require your dog to pass the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen evaluation.
Training a dog, especially with the CGC guidelines, helps them become calmer and more obedient. Having dog bite liability insurance coverage is extremely important, should you participate on a therapy dog team.
The CGC evaluation is broken up into 10 tests.
Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger without showing signs of resentment or shyness.
Test 2: Sitting politely for petting without showing signs of shyness or too much excitement.
Test 3: Appearance and Grooming. The dog must be in a generally healthy physical condition, and must be okay with being groomed by the evaluator.
Test 4: Walking on a loose lead while following the direction of the handler and without pulling on the lead.
Test 5: Walking through a crowd while under the handler’s complete control.
Test 6: Sit and down on command, and staying in place.
Test 7: Coming when called.
Test 8: Reaction to another dog. The dog must be able to act politely around other dogs, without signs of aggression.
Test 9: Reaction to distraction. This test shows that the dog will remain calm and confident in any situation, even if there are loud or sudden distractions.
Test 10: Supervised Separation. This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person if necessary, and will maintain their good manners.
Another test that is often included in some programs that is not listed under the AKC’s guidelines, is responding to the “leave it” command. Since therapy dog visits are frequently in nursing home or hospital environments, there could be materials near the ground that your dog should not lick or ingest. Knowing how to “leave it” will prevent them from doing so.
F.I.D.O., the Federation of Insured Dog Owners, Inc., now offers the Covered Canine Policy, an exclusive product and benefit for F.I.D.O. members only. This policy is available in California, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin. It will protect you should your dog bite an individual and cause harm. It does not exclude any breed of dog and starts as low as $75 per dog, per year.