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Canine Good Citizen Certification: Everything You Need to Know

AKC Canine Good Citizen Certification - Everything You Need to Know
AKC Canine Good Citizen Certification – Everything You Need to Know

The AKC Canine Good Citizen program provides a solid foundation of behavioral training for your dog, but it also comes with some unexpected additional perks. Here’s everything you must know about the CGC program from how to get enrolled to some of those perks.

What is the Canine Good Citizen Program?

The Canine Good Citizen program was formally introduced by the American Kennel Club in 1989. Since it’s inception, close to one million dogs have taken part in the CGC behavioral program both as a precursor to more advanced programs and as a behavioral training opportunity.

The skills that your dog will learn in the Canine Good Citizen program are designed to teach them how to behave in a socially acceptable way which is why the program is often referred to as a “class in good manners” for dogs.

Benefits of CGC

There are more than a few benefits to getting your dog CGC trained and tested:

  • A better-behaved animal companion.
  • A pup with a better ability to communicate with and understand you.
  • A stronger bond with you.
  • A solid foundation of obedience that can be applied to any other skill or used alone.
  • Makes the dog a great ambassador for other dogs in the community.
  • CGC training is also a necessary step for many types of “dog jobs”, particularly for dogs who intend to provide therapy dog services.
  • Lastly, it makes for a safer environment overall because it gives you a better ability to control the animal in a variety of situations.

Before You Get Into It…

Before you sign up for the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program with your dog, there are a few things that you will need to do.

Find a CGC training class

If you are interested in taking a local CGC training class with your pooch, the best place to look for a referral is your local AKC dog club. Since the CGC is an American Kennel Club program, you will find the most information about local programs through them.

You may also be able to find non-AKC classes that teach the necessary skills for passing the CGC test and another option to explore if you are having a difficult time finding an AKC class to fit your schedule. Just be sure that the class you choose will teach your dog the same skills as those included in the AKC CGC training program (we’ll get to those momentarily).

Keep in mind that when you enroll in the AKC CGC class, that class usually incorporates final testing with an approved CGC evaluator into the program. If you take a non-AKC CGC training program, however, it will be up to you to find and arrange for a CGC evaluator to evaluate your dog for the AKC Canine Good Citizenship testing.

Find a CGC evaluator

If you choose to take an alternative training course or teach your dog the CGC skills yourself, you will need to arrange for a Canine Good Citizen evaluator to test your dog after they have mastered their training.

Again, your local AKC breed club is going to be the best place to get referrals for evaluators, but you can also search through the AKC’s directory of approved CGC evaluators. It will be up to you to select an evaluator and arrange for your dog to take the CGC test with them.

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, however, let’s take a look at what the Canine Good Citizen program requires of its students.

10 Focal Points Canine Good Citizen Program

There are ten main points of focus in the Canine Good Citizen program. In order to earn their CGC, your dog must master each task and perform that task when tested by an official AKC CGC certified trainer without failure or dismissal.

Test Point #1: Accepting a Friendly Stranger

The first test point in CGC evaluation tests is whether your dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach and speak with their handler in a normal, everyday type of setting. To do this, the evaluator will walk up to you in a friendly way, paying no attention to your dog. They will then shake your hand and exchange greetings.

To pass this test point: your pet must not display any resentment towards the evaluator.

Test Point #2: Sitting Politely for Petting

The second test point is whether your pup will allow a friendly stranger to touch them while they are with their handler. To do this, you should have your dog sitting beside you and the evaluator will pet your dog on their head and body. You are permitted to talk to your dog during this evaluation and your dog may stand in place to be pet if they prefer.

To pass this test point: same as above, your dog must not display any shyness or resentment towards the evaluator.

Test Point #3: Appearance and Grooming

Third test is whether your dog is welcoming of grooming and examination such as those they may undergo at a groomer or at the veterinarian. This testing point also gives the evaluator time to evaluate the cleanliness and grooming of your pet to be sure that they are healthy.

During this test, you should provide your dog’s usual brush to the evaluator so that they can carefully brush your dog. The examiner will then examine their ears and lift each foot off the ground. You are permitted to talk to your dog during this evaluation and your dog does not have to hold any specific position.

To pass this test point: your dog must be in healthy and presentable condition and they must be tolerant of the evaluator’s examination.

Test Point #4: Out for a Walk (Walking on a Loose Lead)

The fourth test point is…


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