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Dog Training - Step 3 to the Canine Good Citizen Title

by C. Rogers Upson


Step 3 of 10 to earning a Canine Good Citizen title for your dog is the following:

"Appearance and Grooming. Goal: Evaluator inspects dog, combs or brushes lightly, examines ears and each front foot."

Well, guess that means a bath before the test. lol But, it is important for the dog's health that he is groomed regularly. It is also an important way for you to keep track of fleas, ticks, lice, or other vermin or skin problems your dog might develop. You will be expected to bring a comb or brush to the test for the evaluator to use, so as to not pass on any possible infections. So, the next phase of your socialization is to have people run your brush over the dog's back.

Checking the ears is important, too, especially for the dogs with floppy ears. Mites can breed in there and it is easier for these dogs to develop ear infections. By checking them regularly and cleaning them with a cotton ball occasionally, this should be a breeze.

Now, the feet need to be inspected and you'll have to teach the dog first to accept having his feet handled. This really ought to be done from the time he is small, even before his eyes open, if possible. Dogs don't really care for their paws being handled, but since you're going to have to trim his nails, anyway, you might as well teach it early on.

Simply start by grasping the leg at the elbow and run your hand down and off the paw. Your dog will likely pull away, but handle each paw (yes, even the back ones) every day until he gets the idea you don't mean to hurt him. Praise him when he allows you to touch his paws in a variety of ways, including inspecting the nails and the pads. When you start clipping the nails, be positive about it and praise a lot and try not to clip the quick. That way, the dog learns that having his paws handled is not a bad thing.

Eventually, you can have other people randomly pick up the paws once he has accepted their petting.

Another way to teach paw handling is to teach the dog to shake hands or give fives. That's another lesson, though, so I won't go into it here. You're getting there on the Canine Good Cititzen tests.

(The information in quotes at the beginning of this article is involved in the CGC test taken from the AKC test scoresheet.)


C. Rogers Upson has been training dogs and studying them for nearly 40 years. Her website is Dog Potentials and she has two dog-related stores at Keeping to the Borders and Dog Potentials-The Store.

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