After teaching AnimalSense’s Canine Good Citizen class for awhile, I became an evaluator last year.
(Yes, that’s what it is now. As of 2013, if your dog passes the test, he can be awarded a title by the American Kennel Club and can use the CGC designation after his name – like on his resume or business cards.)
To receive this certification, a dog must satisfactorily complete each exercise.
I personally think it is no small feat to have your dog not react when you hand him off to a stranger (this is the part many dogs fail) or react to another dog. That’s asking a lot and these behaviors are very difficult to practice (which is why CGC training classes are so helpful). Plus, working towards this goal gives you a nicely behaved dog – even if you can’t pass all elements of the test.
There can be practical benefits to a CGC title as well. For example, some insurance companies will provide homeowners insurance to otherwise excluded breeds upon proof of completing the CGC test. Landlords are also often impressed by this title and will sometimes rent to someone with a CGC dog even if they generally don’t allow dogs. It’s a good thing to ask about when you are looking to rent with a dog.
Classes are not enough – lots of practice is also required. I must confess that my puppy failed the test at 14 months. To make matters worse, she failed at something she typically does so well – walking on a leash. Nevertheless, I plan to take her for a re-test soon and am confident (or at least hopeful) that she’ll pass. Wish us luck!