Could Your Dog Ace the “Canine Good Citizen” test?

By Julia Williams

Having a well-trained feline is not something most cat owners care about. Not because cats can’t be trained – they certainly can – but it’s really not necessary for everyday life. Dog owners, on the other hand, do need to make sure their canine buddy is well trained and well behaved. Trained dogs make better companions, and the training process helps you build a stronger bond with your dog.

Many pet owners use the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) certification program as the first step in training their dogs. Passing the 10-step CGC test ensures that your dog has good manners both at home and out in the world. Having a well behaved dog makes you a better neighbor, and makes it more likely that your dog is welcomed in your community.

What is the Canine Good Citizen program?

The American Kennel Club started the CGC program in 1989 as a way to promote responsible dog ownership and to encourage the training of well-mannered dogs. A dog and his owner (or handler) must take a short behavioral evaluation consisting of ten objectives. Dogs who pass earn the Canine Good Citizen certificate from the AKC, which some owners use after the dog’s name, e.g., “Rover, CGC.”

Many other countries have developed similar programs based on the AKC’s CGC Program. A CGC Neighborhood Model has been established, police and animal control agencies use CGC for dealing with dog problems, some Therapy Dog programs use the CGC as a screening tool, and some 4-H groups use the CGC as a beginning dog training program for children.

Benefits of the Canine Good Citizen program

Working with your dog to teach the CGC skills gives you an introduction to the world of obedience training. Dogs that have a solid obedience education are more fun to live with, because they behave better in the presence of people and other dogs. Many dog owners find working with their dogs to obtain their CGC so enjoyable that they decide to explore other AKC training programs. The Canine Good Citizen program lays the foundation for all other AKC activities, including obedience trials, agility, tracking, and performance events.

Before you and Fido take the Canine Good Citizen test, you will need to sign the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge. The AKC believes this is a key part of the CGC concept, and signing the pledge means you agree to take care of your dog’s health needs, safety, exercise, training, and quality of life. You also must agree to be a responsible pet owner by doing things like cleaning up after your dog in public places, and not letting your dog infringe on the rights of others.

CGC Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger – demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The dog must not show resentment or shyness, and must not break position.

CGC Test 2: Sitting politely for petting – demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. He must not show shyness or resentment.

CGC Test 3: Appearance and grooming – demonstrates that your dog will allow being groomed and examined. Must also appear to be healthy (proper weight, clean, and alert).

CGC Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead) – demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog and should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to their movements and direction changes.

CGC Test 5: Walking through a crowd – demonstrates that your dog can move politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. He should not jump on people or strain on the leash.

CGC Test 6: Sit and down on command, and staying in place – demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler’s commands to sit and down, and will remain in place.

CGC Test 7: Coming when called – demonstrates that your dog will come when you call him.

CGC Test 8: Reaction to another dog – demonstrates that your dog can behave politely around other dogs.

CGC Test 9: Reaction to distraction- demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with distracting situations.

CGC Test 10: Supervised separation – demonstrates that your dog can be left with a trusted person, and will maintain training and good manners.

Who can participate?

Both purebred and mixed dogs are welcome in the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program. Dogs do not have to be registered with the AKC or any other canine organization to earn their CGC certification, and there is no age limit for the CGC test – a dog is never too old to be a good citizen!

Local specialty breed clubs, AKC judges, 4-H leaders, therapy dog evaluators, veterinarians, vet techs, groomers, private trainers, kennel owners, animal control and police K-9 officers can all give the CGC test. You can use the AKC website to find an evaluator in your area.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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