September is Responsible Dog Ownership (RDO) month, and the third Saturday in September is the day when many dog-centric organizations hold educational and fun events to celebrate. This celebration began in 2003 when the American Kennel Club (AKC) decided to promote responsible dog ownership as part of their 119th anniversary commemoration. The flagship event is always held in Raleigh, NC, the home of the AKC, and it’s a fun-filled day of canine-friendly events like agility and rally demonstrations, dog and owner look-alike contests, etc. Each year, the AKC invites all of the more than 5000 affiliated dog clubs that make up the heart and soul of the AKC to host events in their respective communities.
It’s a fact that dogs bring countless benefits to our lives. They help us stay fit by reminding us to get outside for those daily walks. Petting them decreases our heart rate and releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones that make us feel content. Dogs provide emotional support to those who need it, and trained service dogs help their handlers to remain active in their communities. Dogs are social lubricants as well, breaking the ice when we meet new people or explore new places. Dogs are unconcerned with political affiliation, economic status, or the make of your car; they just want to spend time with you. You owe it to them to make sure that you are reciprocating that devotion by reviewing and committing to the AKC’s Responsible Dog Owner Pet Promise.
Many of the AKC sponsored events celebrating RDO Day will include Canine Good Citizen (CGC) testing. The CGC test involves ten mini-tests for you and your dog which help to show an independent, certified evaluator that your dog is well-mannered in public places. The test includes greeting a stranger in a friendly manner without jumping up or barking; sitting nicely to be petted without too much sniffing or pawing; allowing a stranger to use a comb or brush on your dog and examine the ears and pick up each of the front feet; walking calmly on leash while making left, right, and about turns without a lot of pulling; walking on leash through a crowd without jumping on people, sniffing too much, barking, or straining on the leash; able to do a sit, down, and stay when you move 20 feet away from your dog; coming when you call them from ten feet away; being able to walk past another dog with nothing more than casual interest; displaying confidence in the face of distractions such as runners going by, bicycles, or someone using a piece of medical equipment; and finally showing that they trust a friendly stranger by being able to stay with a new person for three minutes while you move out of their line of sight. If your dog can complete all ten mini-tests, they are eligible for the title of “Canine Good Citizen,” and receive a certificate, a badge or tag for their collar, and bragging rights for you! Many hotel chains even allow dogs with CGC certificates to stay for free! As part of the CGC prep paperwork, you will be asked to sign their “Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge” and submit it with your dog’s completed test results, thus proving that you and your dog are an amazing team.
Many new dog owners go into the relationship without realizing all that is involved. Often, people simply fail to consider what goes into caring for a canine companion. You must take into consideration their size, age, energy level, and temperament before making that commitment. It’s the dog owner’s responsibility to ensure that their dogs are happy, healthy, and safe and that they do not infringe on the rights of other dogs or other humans in our communities.
So, on September 21st, make the promise, not just to your dog, but to everyone affected, and take the pledge to be a responsible dog owner. And when you’re out and about with your canine companion, tag your photos on social media with #ResponsibleDogOwnershipDay.