Is Your Dog a Canine Good Citizen?

Do you think your dog has what it takes to be a  Canine Good Citizen?

The American Kennel Club (AKC) certifies dogs as Canine Good Citizens (CGCs) through a training program and practical examination.  It’s not easy to be become a CGC!

The Test

The practical exam is non-competitive and consists of 10 parts. The examination items cited below are listed on the AKC CGC webpage.

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger.  Your dog will allow a stranger to approach and engage in friendly conversation with you.
  2. Sitting politely for petting:  Your dog allows a friendly stranger to pet her.
  3. Appearance and grooming: Your dog will permit someone other than you to check his front feet.
  4. Walking on a loose lead
  5. Walking through a crowd:  Your dog must demonstrate the ability to move comfortably on a leash through a crowded space with you.  You will move close to at least three different people, demonstrating that your dog is  under control at all times.
  6. Sit and down on command and stay in place.  You may choose whether your dog stays in “sit” or “down” position.
  7. Coming when called:  Your dog will come when called.  This will be a long-leash exercise and your dog will return from 10 feet away.
  8. Reaction to another dog:  Your dog will sit quietly when a person and another dog stop to engage you in friendly conversation.
  9. Reaction to distraction: The examiner will create two different distractions such as a dropped chair.  Your dog must remain calm and under control.
  10. Supervised separation:  This demonstrates that you are able to leave your dog with a caregiver.  You will give your dog’s leash to the evaluator and go out of sight for three minutes.  Your dog must not bark, whine, or show anything other than mild agitation or nervousness.

The Pledge

You will also be asked to take a pledge to commit to proper veterinary care, exercise, training, grooming, hygiene, and safety.  The aim of the pledge is to ensure that dog owners understand their dog’s needs and are dedicated to being good dog parents.

Training for the Test

Classes often start with basic obedience, and dogs progress to CGC qualification.  It’s easy to find an AKC training club through the AKC locator.  Even if there are no AKC clubs offering training classes in your area, there are probably local certified evaluators who can point you to a trainer.  We found several certified evaluators in the Kansas City area, and many trainers that offer classes.  You can find a list on our Resources page.

The Benefits

Why should you consider Canine Good Citizen training for your dog?  It’s a prerequisite for many therapy dog programs.  Certification is sometimes required to keep a dog in a rental property.  And getting your dog certified may make homeowner’s or renters insurance pet riders easier to get.  For owners of certain breeds, certification may be the difference between having and not having liability insurance for your dog.

And best of all, perhaps, when your dog is certified s/he gets to proudly claim the title CGC.

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