Taking part in The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme

Retriever looking at owner wearing red
Rachel Oates © / The Kennel Club

There are over 1700 organisations throughout the UK that promote Good Citizen Dog Scheme training and it’s awards. Classes are usually run on a weekly basis and are fun and enjoyable for you and your dog.

Find a training club near you. To find out when the next training course is being held, telephone or email the club and ask.

Who can attend?

Dogs and owners of any fitness level or disability can take part. The scheme is non-competitive and emphasis is placed on the standard of achievement.

Training clubs will usually accept dogs of any age after they've completed their vaccinations. Many clubs will have some tips to help you until you get to the training classes. Clubs will ask to see your dog's vaccination records when you take your dog along for the first time.

Courses and testing sessions

Lessons take place for approximately one hour per week. Puppy Foundation and Bronze courses normally take between six to eight weeks to complete, but silver and gold courses will take longer.

Puppy Foundation courses are assessed by the class instructor and over a minimum four-week period. Bronze, Silver and Gold courses require a short test set at the end of the course or on an approved test day. An approved scheme examiner will assess whether you and your dog meet the required standard.

Each dog and handler who passes is issued with a Good Citizen Dog Scheme certificate (applicable to the award level). Rosettes, pin badges, souvenir dog discs and a range of merchandise is also available. You do not need to attend a course in order take the Bronze, Silver or Gold award tests. Testing is also available at designated shows and events.

It is advisable to contact the training club first and inform them of any problems you are having. You may be asked to take your dog along first for an assessment so that he or she can join the right class. Find a training club.

Merchandise

The scheme offers successful participants the chance to purchase scheme merchandise from our online shop.

The standards

There are four award levels: Puppy Foundation, Bronze, Silver and Gold.

Your dog must wear a collar and lead and have a legally compliant identification tag, as illustrated below. Harnesses and head collars are also permitted in addition to the collar and lead. There are other items such as a toy, some treats, grooming brush and drying towel that you may need but your instructor will advise you about this.

Dog identification chart that shows what to have on your tag
Puppy Foundation

This course lays the foundations for early learning and assists new puppy owners in understanding basic training techniques. Enrolment can take place from 8 weeks of age, depending on the club and course completion up to 12 months of age. This award level is assessed by the class instructor over a minimum four-week period.

Read more about the puppy foundation course.

Bronze

The bronze award aims to produce a dog that will walk and behave in a controlled manner. It is a basic standard that all adult dogs can achieve with correct handling. Owners must show that they have means of picking up after their dog and that their dog is wearing a lead and collar with the name and the address of the owner inscribed on the collar/disc to take part.

Read more about the bronze award.

Silver

The silver award aims to build on the skills learned in the bronze award while increasing the level of difficulty. It is a natural progression of practical dog training skills and introduces new concepts such as greeting a friend, vehicle control and a road walking exercise which are vital in everyday life situations.

Read more about the silver award.

Gold

The gold award is the highest level of achievement within the scheme awards. It builds upon the skills learnt in the silver award and develops more advanced training skills of the dog and handler. The gold award introduces new concepts such as sending a dog to bed, relaxed isolation, an emergency stop and heelwork off the lead, all of which provide greater understanding and control.

Read more about the gold award.

Canine Code

Accompanies all levels of the scheme and educates owners about responsibilities to their dog and the community.

Read more about the Canine Code.

Guidelines

The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Guidelines provide training clubs with guidance on running the scheme. This is available to download and print or the booklet can be purchased through the online shop.

Download the Good Citizen Dog Scheme Guidelines.

Buy the Good Citizen Dog Scheme Guidelines in our online shop.