The Canine Good Citizen Test is a certification program that tests dogs in simulated everyday situations in a relaxed atmosphere. It identifies and rewards dogs that have the training and demeanor to be reliable family members as well as community members in good standing.
The CGC Program welcomes both purebred and mixed-breed dogs. There is NO AGE LIMIT for dogs taking the CGC Test. The test is non-competitive. All dogs who pass all 10 items of the test receive a certificate from the American Kennel Club. This test of your dog’s manners and training is not a competition and does not require that you and your dog perform with precision. Handlers may talk to their dogs throughout the test and the atmosphere should be relaxed. Praise, smiles, hugs and pats should be given to dogs throughout the test. Handlers are not permitted to give their dogs food during CGC testing. Food is considered a training aid, and while it is appropriate as a positive reinforcer during training, the purpose of the CGC Test is to determine if the dog’s behavior can be controlled by the handler if no special incentives are provided.
All tests are performed on leash. Dogs should wear well-fitted buckle collars and 4’ or 6’ nylon or leather leash. Special training collars such as pinch collars or head halters are not permitted. Owners should bring a brush to the test for the grooming exercise.
Every dog should respond to at least four basic behavior cues to function acceptably in public: “heel,” “sit,” “down” and “stay.” Response to these cues gives dogs the social skills that defuse anti-canine feelings and foster good citizenship. Other helpful behaviors are: “watch me”, “loose leash walking”, “leave it”, and "come". However, your dog is not capable of training himself.
Training stimulates your dog’s intelligence and teaches your dog the social skills necessary for him to adapt to the human world. As you train your dog, you create a relationship based on trust and understanding. Positive reinforcement training opens the door to your dog’s mind. You will be amazed by your dog’s unlimited learning potential.
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. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness, and must not break position or try to go to the evaluator.
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 (either side is permissible) to begin the exercise, the evaluator approaches and asks, “May I pet your dog?” The evaluator then pets the dog on the head and body only. The handler may talk to his or her dog throughout the exercise. The dog may stand in place once petting begins. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.
3. Appearance and Grooming / Hander is responsible for bringing an acceptable brush to the testing.
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. It also demonstrates the owner’s care, concern and sense of responsibility.
The evaluator inspects the dog to determine if it is clean and groomed. The dog must appear to be in healthy condition (i.e., proper weight, clean, healthy and alert). The handler should supply the comb or brush commonly used on the dog. The evaluator then softly combs or brushes the dog and, in a natural manner, lightly examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. It is not necessary for the dog to hold a specific position during the examination, and the handler may talk to the dog, praise it and give it encouragement throughout.
4. Out for a Walk (Walking on a Loose Leash)
This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog may be on either side of the handler, whichever the handler prefers. (NOTE: The left-side position is required in all AKC competitive obedience events.) The evaluator may use a pre-plotted course or may direct the handler/dog team by issuing instructions or cues. In either case, there must be a left turn, right turn and an about turn, with at least one stop in between and another at the end. 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. The handler may talk to the dog throughout the “walk” to encourage him and may give praise. The handler may also give the dog a cue to sit at the stop, if desired. The dog need not be perfectly aligned in the “heel” position with the handler and need not sit at the stops. The dog should not be constantly straining at the leash so that the leash is pulled tight. The dog will be scored Not Ready if it demonstrates excessive sniffing.
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). Some of the members of the crowd may be standing still; however, some crowd members should be moving about. This test simulates settings such as busy sidewalks or walking through a crowd at a dog show or public event. The dog may show some interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with the handler, without evidence of over exuberance, shyness or resentment. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise the dog throughout the test. The dog should not be straining at the leash. If the CGC is being given for therapy dog certification (which is not an AKC activity), most national therapy dog groups require that at least one person in the crowd use some healthcare equipment, such as walkers, canes, wheelchairs, etc.
6. Sit and Down on command/ 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). Prior to this test, the dog’s leash is replaced with a 20-foot line. The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to make the dog sit and then down. The evaluator must determine if the dog has responded to the handler’s commands. The handler may not force the dog into either position but may touch the dog to offer gentle guidance. 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 (the 20-foot line is not removed or dropped). The dog must remain in the place it was left (it may change position) until the evaluator instructs the handler to release the dog. The dog may be released from the front or the side.
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 body language and encouragement to get the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell dogs to “stay” or “wait,” (or another similar cue) or they may simply walk away. The dog may be left in the sit, down, or standing position. If a dog attempts to follow the handler, the evaluator may distract the dog (e.g., petting) until the handler is 10 feet away. This exercise does not test “stay”; this exercise tests whether or not the dog will come when called. The test is complete when the dog comes to the handler and the handler attaches the dog’s own leash.
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 that a casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.
9. Reactions to Distractions
This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations. The evaluator will select only two of the following:
The dog may express a natural interest and curiosity and/or appear slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness or bark. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise it throughout the exercise.
10. Supervised Separation
This test demonstrates that a dog can be left in the presence of a trusted person and will maintain his training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, “Would you like me to watch your dog?” You will give the leash to the evaluator and go out of sight for 3 minutes. You may tell your dog to stay if it is already in a down or sit/stay. 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.
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