Do your friends ever say behind your back, “I like Joe just fine, but I wish he’d leave that wild dog at home”? Oh dear… But you don’t have to be one of those people! Your pup will be welcome wherever you are, when he’s a Canine Good Citizen.
Either way, CGC training gives you a dog who knows how to behave himself in lots of life situations, including around other people and animals.
Owners of large-breed and giant dogs, or dogs with “bad press” such as pitbulls, find that passing the CGC test can make their friends and neighbors feel much more comfortable around the dog – and it goes a long way to friendly relations with a landlord, too.
You can revel in the knowledge that you’ve got yourself one good dog with good manners – and the certification to prove it!
So, what is the Canine Good Citizen Program?
The Canine Good Citizen® program is a 10-step test for dogs and their handlers, given by the American Kennel Club. Successful completion of the CGC test demonstrates to the world that your dog has been trained to have good manners in public places, and that you are a responsible and committed pet owner.
Keep reading for information about what skills are on the test, who can take part in the program, and where in the United States or Canada you can find out when and where a test is scheduled to take place.
A Worthy Goal in Dog Obedience Training
As you’re training your dog, keep the Canine Good Citizen test in mind. Even if you decide not to go for your CGC certification, the 10 tasks on the CGC test will give you 10 specific goals for your training — and a well-behaved dog you’ll be proud to take with you out into your community.
What’s on the CGC Test?
CGC testing is normally done in a public place with lots of appropriate distractions, such as in a public park. The test consists of 10 exercises, all of which are completed with your dog on a leash:
- Accepting a friendly stranger
- Sitting politely for petting
- Appearance and grooming
- Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
- Walking through a crowd
- Sit and Down on command (and Staying in place)
- Coming when called
- Calm reaction to another dog
- Calm reaction to a distraction (such as a sudden noise)
- Supervised separation (meaning, the dog is calm and relaxed when left in care of another person, while you go out of sight)
How many of these 10 skills does your dog already know? You may already be close to having a Canine Good Citizen in your family!
Who can take the Canine Good Citizen Test?
Open to Any Age and Breed
The CGC test program is generally open to any dog in good health, regardless of age – as long as the dog is old enough to have its vaccinations completed – although puppies who pass the CGC test really should be retested as adults, as dogs’ personalities and behavior can change over time as they mature.
Your dog doesn’t need to have fancy papers, either. Both purebred and mixed-breed dogs are welcome to take the test.
The only exceptions to the open age and breed are likely to be if the Canine Good Citizen testing is done at an American Kennel Club show. The age requirements for the show will apply to the CGC test, in that case, and participation in the test may be restricted to only purebred dogs and/or to those dogs who are entered in the show. This will vary from show to show, so you’ll need to check with the registration stewards or hosting kennel club in advance.
No Formal Training is Required
You don’t need take an obedience class before trying out for CGC certification. Owners who have trained their own dogs at home are equally welcome to take the test – but in my experience, a good basic class with a professional trainer will make the whole process much easier for both you and your pup.
Responsible Dog Owners Pledge
Where can you take the CGC test?
In Canada, the equivalent of the Canine Good Citizen program is called the CKC Canine Good Neighbour program, run by the Canadian Kennel Club and hosted locally by kennel clubs, animal shelters, and other dog-centred organizations. Testing usually takes place during the summer months, as most clubs like to do outdoor tests, but tests may be scheduled at any time of year.
One of the best ways to find out what’s going on in the dog world in Canada is through the CanuckDogs.com website. Canine Good Neighbour Tests are usually listed for each region there, if there’s one on the event calendar, or you can track down a local club to make further inquiries about when the next CGN test is planned.
Are you in?
Even if you don’t choose to go “whole hog” and try for certification, training your dog to CGC / CGN test standards will ensure you end up with a well-mannered pet who’ll be a pleasure to take out into the world with you – the kind of good companion we all want our dogs to be.
Spring Dog photo by jade