AKC Canine Good Citizen

28February 2011

The American Kennel Club (AKC) developed the Canine Good Citizen award as an entry-level certification program.  The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) was developed to reward dogs who have good manners within the community, as well as at home.  Passing this 10-step test will gain you and your dog a certificate from the AKC.  Developed in 1989, the Canine Good Citizen test is often used as a screening process for therapy dogs, and is also used by animal control and police for dealing with problem dogs.  The CGC certification is made up of two main components:
1) Teaching responsible dog ownership
2) Certifying dogs that have been trained and are well-balanced, well-behaved members of their community.

Dogs of any breed or age are eligible for the test (provided they have all their vaccinations).  To participate, owners are required to sign the “Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge.”  The CGC test is designed to evaluate the behavior of the dog in everyday situations, and is always held in a non-competitive, relaxed atmosphere.  Use of treats or training equipment and harsh corrections are not allowed during the CGC test.  To pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test and receive your certificate, you must pass all 10 components.

Many local trainers or facilities offer the test at a small fee.
To find a place near you, visit the American Kennel Club.

10 Test Components:
Dogs may be tested by their owner or a handler.

1)  Accepting a Friendly Stranger.  The dog must allow a stranger to approach the owner and engage in friendly conversation.  The dog must not exhibit any sign shyness, nor break his position to greet the person.

2)  Sitting Politely for Petting.  The dog must allow a friendly stranger to touch him.  While sitting at the owner’s side, the dog must allow a friendly stranger to touch him without showing shyness.

3)  Appearance & Grooming.  The dog must allow the evaluator (or helper) to groom and examine him.  The dog must appear to be in a healthy condition, and hold his position during the examination.  This component was added because dogs must be comfortable will all kinds of people touching them, such as:  veterinarians, groomers, boarding staff and friend’s of the owner.

4)  Out for a Walk (Walking on a Loose Lead).  A path will be presented for the handler to walk with the dog.  The path will include:  at least one stop, a right and left turn, and an about turn.  The dog should be obviously paying attention and closely following the lead of the handler.

5)  Walking through a Crowd.  This part of the test will demonstrate that the dog is under control and capable of politely moving through a crowd.  The dog should not jump or pull on the leash to get to members of the crowd.  The dog must walk with the owner without showing over-interest in anything else.

6)  Sit & Down on Command/ Staying in Place.  This test will demonstrate that the dog has been trained, and will respond to the owner’s commands.  The dog must first sit and down on command.  Next the owner will leave the dog in either position and have the dog stay while moving several feet away.  The dog must remain in position until released.

7)  Come when Called.  The owner will walk away from the dog 10 feet and stop, then turn to face the dog and call the dog.  The dog must go directly to the owner without detour.

8)  Reaction to another Dog.  This will demonstrate that the dog can behave and act politely around other dogs.  Starting from a distance of 20 feet apart, two handlers will walk towards each other, stop, shake hands, and then continue on.

9)  Reaction to Distraction.  This will demonstrate that the dog is confident when faced with every-day distractions.  The Evaluator will select and present two different distractions.  These can be things being dropped to make a loud noise, or people moving quickly by (biking or running).  They dog is allowed to appeared startled by must not panic, show aggression, bark, or try to get away.

10)  Supervised Separation.  The owner will go out of the dog’s sight for three minutes.  During this time the dog must not wine, bark, pace, or show any kind of nervousness.  The dog must remain with the evaluator, but is not required to stay in any specific position during this time (sit, down, etc).