I am so proud of my scrappy mutt today, who has come so far from being an abused and abandoned stray to a confident, perfectly trained dog. Last night, after a year and a half of doggy classes (including dog sports and a completely unnecessary tricks class), Ru passed the Canine Good Citizen test!
For those of you who don’t know, the CGC is a test and certification program put on by the American Kennel Club. It basically recognizes that your dog has impeccable manners/behavior and that they’re under your control. It’s the same certificate that service and therapy dogs must have, and although there’s only ten tests in the full exam, some of them are far from easy. Still, Ru passed with flying colors (heck, I even thought the test was supposed to be next week) and we’re already planning to take a class in the highest level certification in the winter.
- Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger
- This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The evaluator walks up to the dog and handler and greets the handler in a friendly manner, ignoring the dog. The evaluator and handler shake hands and exchange pleasantries.
- Test 2: Sitting politely for petting
- This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. With the dog sitting at the handler’s side, to begin the exercise, the evaluator pets the dog on the head and body. The handler may talk to his or her dog throughout the exercise. The dog may stand in place as it is petted. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.
- Test 3: Appearance and grooming
- This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so. The evaluator softly combs or brushes the dog, and in a natural manner, lightly examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot.
- Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
- This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog’s position should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to the handler’s movements and changes of direction.
- Test 5: Walking through a crowd
- This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three).
- Test 6: Sit and down on command and staying in place
- This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler’s commands to sit and down and will remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers). The dog must do sit AND down on command, then the owner chooses the position for leaving the dog in the stay. When instructed by the evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward the length of the line, turns and returns to the dog at a natural pace.
- Test 7: Coming when called
- This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog. The handler may use encouragement to get the dog to come.
- Test 8: Reaction to another dog
- This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.
- Test 9: Reaction to distraction
- This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations. The evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity and/or may appear slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark.
- Test 10: Supervised separation
- This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, “Would you like me to watch your dog?” and then take hold of the dog’s leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness.
I can’t emphasize enough that this is a certificate worth pursuing. Other than the obvious benefit of a well-trained dog, it can also help you prove to potential landlords that your pet is extremely behaved. You can even get reduced renter’s and homeowner’s insurance when you have a CGC certified dog!
For an even better idea of what’s involved, check out this video of a model test: