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Why Your Dog should be a Canine Good Citizen

Author: Paulette Solinski | Date: July 12, 2013

After teaching AnimalSense’s Canine Good Citizen class for awhile, I became an evaluator last year.

I now test dogs to see if they are worthy of the CGC title.

(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.

  • Accepting a friendly stranger – dog must wait politely as a stranger approaches. Usually the evaluator and the handler shake hands and have a brief conversation.
  • Sitting politely for petting – dog must not show shyness or react inappropriately when being petted by a friendly stranger.
  • Appearance and grooming – dog must allow a friendly stranger to examine his ears and feet and to brush him.
  • Out for a walk – dog must walk calmly on a loose leash. During the walk he must sit twice on command.
  • Walking through a crowd – dog must walk politely through a crowd.
  • Sit/down/stay – dog must sit and down on command and must stay in place while handler walks about 20 feet away and returns.
  • Come – dog must come directly to you when called from a distance of 10 feet.
  • Reaction to another dog – dog must behave politely when meeting another dog.
  • Reactions to distractions – dog may startle or show interest but not aggressiveness or fear to such things as someone walking on crutches or someone dropping a pan.
  • Supervised separation – dog must wait calmly with the evaluator while his handler goes out of sight for 3 minutes.

So, why do it? It really provides a sense of accomplishment.

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!



Our trainer gave us lots of tips and “homework”, as well as useful resources.

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