Teach Your Dog To Be A Canine Good Citizen

Your dog knows the basics when it comes to obedience, but it’s time to take it to the next level. Your dog can be a Canine Good Citizen! Sure, you may think your pup is already pretty awesome, but you can make sure that your dog has all the good manners to be considered a Canine Good Citizen. Plus, you’ll get a fancy-schmancy certificate to hang on the wall and brag about.

What Is The Canine Good Citizen Program?

Set up by the American Kennel Club in 1989, the Canine Good Citizen Program (CGC) rewards dogs that have good manners both at home and in the community. To complete the program, your dog must pass the two-part, 10-step CGC test. Not only will this program teach your dog good manners, but it also focuses on responsible dog ownership for you.

Reasons to take the Canine Good Citizen Test

Of course, better doggy manners and a certificate from the American Kennel Club are enticing reasons, but there are more benefits that come with it. If you’re just starting out on obedience training, it’s a dynamite place to start. Once you start the training process, the bond between you and your dog will grow stronger. And kids can get into the fun too – there are club across North American that offer courses just for kids and canines.

By performing and mastering the steps in the Canine Good Citizen program, you’ll notice your dog picking up good habits. These include responding well to household routines, having good manners in around people and other dogs, and loving their owner that much more (if that’s even possible!).  And there’s no telling where this will lead you. After you finish up with the Canine Good Citizen program, there’s nothing stopping you from tackling agility, tracking, and performance events.

You may think your pup is already pretty awesome, but you can make sure that your dog has all the good manners to be considered a Canine Good Citizen.

What Dogs Can Participate?

Any dog can be a Canine Good Citizen! Pure and mix breeds are welcome to take the test. And there are no age limits. Young pups and senior pooches are eligible. Dogs must be old enough to have received necessary immunizations (such as rabies vaccines).

Depending on where your dog takes the test, there may be few exceptions relating to participation. If you take it at an AKC show or with a dog training school, you’ll have to abide by the regulations set out by the organization.

Where Do You Go For The Test?

Countries all over the world offer the training and testing for the course. Breed and dog clubs, dog training schools and community clubs offer Canine Good Citizen training and can administer the official test. As well, dogs can be tested during AKC shows.

Do you think your dog has what it takes to be a Canine Good Citizen? Are you interested in learned more? Learn more about it at the American Kennel Club’s website. You can see the full list of steps and requirements after the jump. And tell us how many of the 10 steps your dog can already do by leaving a comment.

AKC Canine Good Citizen Test

Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger
The dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation.

Test 2: Sitting politely for petting
The dog will allow a friendly stranger to pet it while it is out with its handler.

Test 3: Appearance and grooming
The dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so.

Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
The handler/dog team will take a short “walk” to show that the dog is in control while walking on a leash.

Test 5: Walking through a crowd
The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three) to demonstrate that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places.

Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place
The dog will respond to the handler’s commands to 1) sit, 2) down and will 3) remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers).

Test 7: Coming when called
The dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog.

Test 8: Reaction to another dog
To demonstrate that the dog can behave politely around other dogs, two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet.

Test 9: Reaction to distraction
To demonstrate the dog is confident when faced with common distracting situations, the evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane.

Test 10: Supervised separation
This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, “Would you like me to watch your dog?” and then take hold of the dog’s leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes.


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