Canine Good Neighbour: Can your dog pass the test?

Allison Bokitch and golden retrievers

The Saskatoon Council on Aging and Sage Seniors’ Resources will host the Canine Good Neighbour Test on June 5th at Market Mall. Phone Betty 306.652.2255 – dogs and owners must preregister! Cost: $40

Does your dog have what it takes to be a Canadian Kennel Club Canine Good Neighbour? SCOA spoke with CGN Evaluator Allison Bokitch about this exciting test of skills and abilities.

About the test

According to the Canadian Kennel Club [CKC] website, the Canine Good Neighbour Program is a non-competitive 12-step test. It assesses the relationship between the handler and the dog as well as the handler’s ability to control the dog. Dogs are evaluated on their ability to perform basic exercises and show good manners in everyday situations. Dogs must pass all 12 exercises of the test to receive certification. “If your dog can’t do those things, that means you need to do a little bit more training –  because they are very basic but they are very important,” explains Allison. 

Why take the test

There are many great reasons to take the test. “To go through the process and actually earn a title with your dog is pretty fantastic, “ outlines Allison. “It shows you’ve spent a lot of time with your dog and worked with your dog a lot – it is like an affirmation that says you’ve done pretty good.”  Another important reason is that dog ownership is a responsibility.  According to Allison, “you should teach them some manners. They should know how to do basic things so that they are good citizens. Nobody wants to have a dog that their family and friends don’t want to have around.” The CKC originally developed the Canine Good Neighbour Program to promote good pet ownership. 

Next steps

When a dog passes the evaluation, they receive a Canine Good Neighbour certification from the CKC. Passing the CGN test makes many people think about working towards other avenues offered by the CKC such as Formal Obedience or Rally Obedience. Allison points out that the the CGN certification is like a stepping stone for further skills. She uses the CGN in teaching Pet Therapy preparatory classes. 

Service dogs and therapy dogs: what’s the difference?

The distinctions between service dogs and therapy dogs are often overlooked. As Allison explains, “A therapy dog does not have 100 per cent public access. A therapy dog has a good temperament, wants to go and visit people – they are not trained for specific tasks.” Service dogs must pass a public access test and also tests for what they are trained to do such as psychiatric response dogs for PTSD or hearing dogs. 

Benefits of owning a dog

Allison observes that owning a dog provides many benefits for older adults. A dog can be an excellent companion to an older adult. Owning a dog improves physical health “because you need to get out with that dog, you need to take it for a walk, even if it’s a little one – they still need a walk.” Some studies show that interacting with pets can actually help lower blood pressure and improve brain chemicals and mood.  

Sometimes family members will suggest that their aging parent get a dog for company. It is important that older adults are willing and able to care for the animal. If the older adult is frail or has health issues, owning a dog might be just another responsibility. Therapy dogs would be an excellent alternative and older adults would still get the benefits of the dog’s company, explains Allison. 

Allison Bokitch is owner and operator of KENRO Registered Golden Retrievers & Dog Training Services is a hobby kennel and dog training service in  Rosetown, Saskatchewan CANADA. 

Visit Allison’s website  – for more information
CKC Canine Good Neighbour program – Participant Handbook

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