During Crufts 2017, the Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme (GCDS) celebrated its 25th anniversary.
As part of the packed programme in the GCDS ring during the world’s biggest dog show, more than 200 dogs took part in displays each day, there were daily cake cuttings, and 20 dogs passed their Bronze award. Special four-legged TV guests dropped by to help celebrate including Biff, aka Buster the Boxer from the popular John Lewis Christmas advert, and Kheva, Jinty, Rumour and Dora, stars of ad campaigns for Amazon, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and many more.
Each day different guests cut the celebratory cake: Kennel Club Events and Education Executive, Vanessa McAlpine; Good Citizen Dog Scheme Working Party Chairman, Maurice Cooke; Kennel Club Chief Executive, Rosemary Smart; and long-standing supporters of the scheme and two of the founders of the GCDS Awards, Paddy Coughlan and John McNeil.
Outside of the GCDS ring, an impressive team of 35 dogs and their owners displayed their Good Citizen skills in the packed Genting Arena on both the Friday and Sunday of Crufts. Other display teams that took part across the four days had travelled from all over the UK from as far as the Isle of Man to show off their achievements in the ring.
This year the GCDS, the largest dog-training programme in the UK, celebrates its 25th anniversary. Over the years it has developed from one initial award to four levels of dog training standards: Puppy Foundation, Bronze, Silver and Gold. From the very start all dogs have been welcome; young and old, pedigree and crossbreed, previously trained or completely new to the concept of rules and obedience.
The GCDS was introduced in 1992 as a means of teaching dog owners how to handle everyday life situations and the universal responsibilities that come with owning a dog. Until this point, dog training had been much more focused on those participating in canine sports.
As well as a means to help owners train their dogs to be sociable and obedient, other aspects of the scheme include the annual GCDS Awards, which recognise and reward the hard work and dedication undertaken by training organisations and local councils in promoting good dog ownership; the Safe and Sound Scheme, an initiative that helps promote the safe interaction between children and dogs and combat anti-dog publicity; breed specific GCDS classes for each breed competing at Crufts, in which the winners receive their own rosette; the special annual Supermatch, the culmination of a series of heats throughout the year; and a GCDS category within the Kennel Club’s crossbreed competition, Scruffts.
On Saturday 11th March, this year’s GCDS finalist was named the overall Scruffts winner during a presentation in the Genting Arena. The winner was Biscuit, a German Shepherd Dog/Border Collie cross owned by 14-year-old aspiring dog trainer and YKC member Joshua King from Denbighshire.
This year’s winner of the GCDS Special Pre-Beginner Stakes final was Paul Watts from Northamptonshire with his crossbreed terrier Soaring Fred. Fourteen-year-old Abbie Nunn and her Working Sheepdog, Bess took the crown in the Young Kennel Club GCDS Special Pre-Beginner Obedience Stakes final.
The scheme would be nothing without the hard work and dedication from the many volunteers and trainers. From those holding classes at local training clubs all year round, to the tireless group of early bird volunteers who were out in the NEC car parks from 6am each morning during Crufts to hand out poo bags and promote responsible dog ownership. The Kennel Club and the Good Citizen Dog Scheme Working Party wish to thank all of the GCDS display teams and volunteers, and everyone who has supported the scheme over the past 25 years.