Does your dog sit quietly while you talk to friends? When you walk in a crowd does he come along with you, ignoring other dogs and distractions? Does he allow others to pet him and come when called? If so, you already know that he is a good dog. Passing the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test, however, will show everyone that he is a good canine citizen, too.
The American Kennel Club’s CGC program encourages good dog ownership and rewards dogs for good manners. The program, started in 1989, is open to any dog, mixed or purebred, that is more than a year old and has a current rabies vaccination.
Even if your dog can’t perform all the requests mentioned earlier, you can begin training and helping him gain the confidence he needs to pass the test.
Practicing for the CGC test also is a great way to have fun and strengthen your bond.
Two good examples are Cowboy, 3, and Baloo, 2. They’re Australian Shepherds with young owners who enjoy training them. They earned their CGC certificates last summer.
Training Cowboy was a fun bonding experience, says Kayla, 11, of Manassas, Virginia. We took several obedience classes and then continued to train on our own for the CGC test. Training for the test is good for dogs because the tests are about things that dogs experience in daily life. Passing the tests shows that your dog is well-rounded and well-behaved.
Tom, 13, from Vernon, New York, also got in on the dog-bonding action. He knew about the CGC program because his mother has CGC titles on her dogs. I thought it would be fun to do it with Baloo, too, he says. Training teaches valuable lessons, and they almost all apply to CGC and even to life.
If it sounds like fun, do it! Check with your local kennel club to see if they offer CGC prep classes. Many humane societies offer CGC classes to encourage owners to train their dogs. If you can’t find a CGC class, enroll in an obedience class offered by a training club. Tell your instructor that you want to take the CGC test so you can make sure that you gain the skills that you and your dog will need to pass.
If you’re still having trouble finding a class, visit the AKC website to find lists of CGC evaluators by state. You can e-mail one in your area to see if he or she can help you find instruction. If you have done obedience training before, use this article and train for the CGC test with some friends.
Now that you are ready, get set to take the test. The AKC website lists which AKC shows offer the test. Training clubs, dog camps, 4-H programs and even some veterinary hospitals offer the test as well. Use a search engine to help locate CGC tests in your state. Type in Canine Good Citizen Program and your state .
Take the Test!
Before you take the test, you will be asked to sign a Responsible Dog Owners Pledge. By signing, you agree to take care of your dog, keep him safe, and give him exercise, training and a good quality of life.
During the test, no treats or toys are allowed, but you can talk to your dog to reassure and encourage him. Your dog must not be shy or resentful of anything the tester does to him. Only flat collars are allowed, and make sure you have your leash and a comb or brush. Most organizations charge a fee ranging from $10 to $25 to take the test.
Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger
For this test, your dog must be able to demonstrate that he will allow someone to approach you and speak to you while you are out together. The person giving the test will come up to you, shake your hand and talk to you, while ignoring your dog. Your dog must stay by your side and not go to the evaluator.
Test 2: Sitting politely for petting
The second test displays your dogs willingness to allow a stranger to touch him while he is with you. You will ask your dog to sit by your side, while the evaluator pets him on the head and body.
Test 3: Appearance and grooming
This test shows that your dog will let someone else groom and examine him, such as a vet, groomer or friend. The tester will check to see if he is groomed, clean and in healthy condition, which reflects your ability to be a responsible dog owner.
You will need to have a brush or comb, and the tester will groom your dog gently and examine his ears and front feet.
Test 4: Walking on a loose lead
Who is in control you or your dog? For this portion of the exam, the tester will ask you to make a right turn, left turn, about turn and at least one stop along the way. Your dog doesn’t have to be in a perfect heel position, but he must demonstrate his ability to follow your directions and pay attention to you.
Test 5: Walking through a crowd
To prove that your dog can behave in a crowd, you will have to walk him around and closely pass at least three people. He can show interest in the people but must continue walking with you. No lunging on the leash or jumping on the people will be permitted.
Test 6: Sit, Down and Stay
Next, your leash is replaced with a 20-foot long line. Your dog must know the sit and down commands and accomplish both. Then choosing either down or stay, you will be instructed to ask your dog to stay while you walk to the end of the long line, turn and return to your dog. The instructor will tell you when to release him.
Test 7: Coming when called
After asking your dog to wait or stay, you will walk 10 feet from your dog, then turn toward him and call him until he comes.
Test 8: Reaction to another dog
You and your dog will be approached by another dog and handler from about 20 feet away. You and the handler will stop and shake hands, speak a little, then continue on for about 10 more feet. Your dog should not go up to either the dog or the handler.
Test 9: Reaction to distraction
Two distractions will be picked by the evaluator; it could be dropping a chair, having someone run by or someone dropping a cane, etc. Although your dog can act startled or curious about what happens, he should not panic, bark or run away. He also should calm down quickly.
Test 10: Supervised separation
The evaluator will ask to watch your dog and then will take hold of your dogs leash. You will go out of sight for three minutes, and while your dog does not have to stay in position, he does have to remain calm without excessive barking, pacing or whining.
The CGC certificate might open the door to other exciting adventures for you and your dog. Kayla and Tom enjoy canine activities with their dogs such as agility, herding, freestyle dancing and junior showmanship. With a CGC certificate, you and your dog can also get active in therapy work. To get in on the fun: get ready; get set; then, take the test!