The first thing you are thinking is, ‘what test?’ Yes, there is a test your pet dog can take to demonstrate he is a Canine Good Citizen. Whether you have a Bichon or Beagle, a Llasa Apso or Lab, a Pug or Pit Bull or even a mixed-breed All American, all owners and their dogs are welcome in the American Kennel (AKC) Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program and all can benefit from preparing for and taking the CGC test.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) started the Canine Good Citizen program in 1989. The purpose of the two-step program is to encourage responsible dog-ownership as well as to raise awareness of the importance of socialization and basic training for our dogs. It rewards dogs who are well-mannered at home and in the community. To become Canine Good Citizen certified, a dog must be at least 6 months old and successfully pass a 10-step test. Each step addresses situations your dog may encounter in every day life and determines that he will react appropriately to each. Ultimately the test assesses whether your dog is well-mannered and socialized.
Canine Good Citizen training is fun while helping to build a close bond and way to communicate with your dog. It is not a competition and does not require performing with precision. The test is administered in a friendly and relaxed environment. No dog really ever fails; if he does not pass his owner is informed that he requires more training and in which specific step. The test is done on leash and the owner (handler) can talk to and encourage his dog throughout the test. In addition, training stimulates your dog’s intelligence and gives him a way to please you and know what you expect from him. It can also save his life in an emergency. All of this can make for a more enjoyable life with your dog.
Upon successfully passing the Canine Good Citizen exam you should expect to say:
-My dog is friendly to strangers
-My dog can sit politely while being petted
-My dog is groomed and healthy looking
-My dog can walk nicely on a leash
-My dog can behave and walk nicely through a crowded area
-My dog will sit and lay down when I tell him to. He will stay when I tell him to.
-My dog will come when I call him
-My dog behaves nicely around other dogs
-My dog is comfortable around distractions and noises
-My dog can be away from me without getting upset or nervous
In addition, the Canine Good Citizen certification can be a stepping stone to other canine activities, such as agility, fly ball, or becoming a therapy dog. The Canine Good citizen program is often used as a model for therapy dog programs, by 4-H groups, scouting and dog groups. Other possible benefits are that dogs with CGC certification are often allowed into public facilities and it can even reduce home-insurance premiums something that is becoming more important n this day of legislation for breed-specific legislation.
The American Kennel Club has approved Canine Good Citizen Evaluators, who have successfully passed an exam to be authorized to administer CGC exams. Many pet dog trainers are CGC Evaluators and offer Canine Good Citizen preparatory classes. CGC prep classes introduce the owner/handler and dog to each of the 10 steps of the test and give them ample opportunity to practice each.
You can find out more about the AKC CGC program by contacting The American Kennel Club at (919) 816-3532 or by visiting their website www.akc.org/events/cgc. The website also provides a list of approved CGC Evaluators and upcoming CGC events.
Laura Williams is the owner of TLC Dog Training, LLC. She is an AKC CGC Evaluator (#7470) and offers a CGC class. Laura is also a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, Red Cross certified in Pet First Aid and volunteers at a local animal shelter. Owner of three dogs, she has successfully completed the CGC exam with her lab Brodie and is currently preparing her puppy Tucker to take the CGC exam.