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The Canine Nutritionist

Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme

by | Dog Nutrition | 0 comments


The day my two dogs passed their Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Bronze Award was, by some measure, the proudest of my life. Marco, trained and handled by my wife, passed at lunchtime. Ava, trained and handled by me, passed later in the day.

You can see them above, pictured back in our garden later that evening. The smiles on their faces tell you they know they done good!


At their dog school, Marco and Ava were in different classes. Five at the time, Marco was in a more senior class to eighteen month old Ava. Marco’s class had been preparing for their test for some weeks. He knew what was required inside out and back to front.

But previously handled by me, Marco had been allowed a little too much free rein as a youngster. I’d encouraged him to be a little too excitable. A little too talkative. A familiar German Shepherd trait that any GSD parent will be well acquainted with. Nonetheless, handled by my wife, Marco sailed through the exam.

Young Ava on the other hand was in a more junior class at dog school. Her class was still working on sit stays and walking to heel. They were a year or more away from Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme standards. Except I believed better. I’d watched Marco’s class being put through their paces for the exam. I downloaded the curriculum and worked with Ava when we were on our own. I just knew she could pass if given the opportunity.

As luck would have it, The Kennel Club official carried out two exams that day. As luck further had it, there was a spare place for the second exam. In an instant, I put Ava’s name forward. I was told she wasn’t ready for such a test, but that it would be good experience for her so yes, bring her along.


Open to all dogs of any age whether Kennel Club registered or not, The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme is the largest dog training scheme in the UK. It has been in operation since 1992. Incorporating numerous obedience exercises for the dogs and various ‘Responsibility and Care’ questions for their handlers, the scheme provides valuable training for both dogs and owners. And it has four levels of achievement. Puppy Foundation, Bronze, Silver and Gold.

To cut a long, long story short, Ava was brilliant. She didn’t put a paw wrong. The exam lasted about an hour taking into account the number of dogs and the various required elements. As with Marco’s class, all the dogs knew one another and all had been preparing for the exam for some weeks. All except my little Ava.

A couple of the dogs had to take one of the elements a second time, but not my little girl. She was flawless. And the icing on the cake for me was when the examiner rushed up to us the second the exam ended, and singled us out for a special congratulation. She knew that Ava and I really weren’t meant to be there. That we were only there because someone else had dropped out. I have to tell you, I was proud as punch, and close to tears when we were later presented with our certificate and rosette.

Forget O Levels, A Levels, a career in the Armed Forces, HNC, a degree and a diploma in canine nutrition. Nothing but nothing comes close to the award Ava and I received that evening!


Sadly, neither dog has progressed any further. As a dog nutritionist, I am exceptionally busy. And living out in the country, it’s very hard to maintain the level of discipline required. We still train with them, but that’s more to give them routine and structure in their lives than with the hope of moving on to higher things. Nonetheless, I would recommend The Good Citizen Dog Scheme to any dog parent.

Aside from the discipline aspect, it’s a wonderful tool to help improve the bond between you and your best friend. And it’s great behavioural enrichment for your dog.

You can find out more by visiting The Kennel Club website.


Of course, being a dog nutritionist, I have also to give some credit to the healthy dog food I feed my dogs. Good dog nutrition is not just about sustaining your dog’s body. It’s about feeding your dog’s brain too. Good food made with natural, healthy ingredients, helps greatly with a dog’s cognitive ability. Particularly once your best friend reaches his or her senior years. That’s when a senior dog diet can really pay dividends.

Meanwhile though, the better you feed your dog, the healthier both physically and mentally he or she is likely to be. And if after reading this you’re motivated to sign your dog up for The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme, do please let me know how you get on. I’d love to hear from you!

Gerald Pepin

Gerald Pepin

Canine Nutritionist

Gerald Pepin is a qualified canine nutritionist, writer, speaker and homemade dog food advocate. Gerald believes that good nutrition can improve or cure most canine health problems and that the natural way is always the best way when it comes to healing man's best friend. A life-long lover of German Shepherds, Gerald and his wife The Dog Chef have two GSDs and live in rural Somerset.


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