Is Your Dog a Canine Good Citizen?

Whether or not you are interested in teaming up with your dog to potentially win awards, titles and ribbons, looking to formally structured and organized events such as obedience, agility, herding and field trials can be a terrific way to set goals for you and your dog to achieve together in order to improve your dog’s manners, mental and physical well-being, and their relationship with you.

One of the first challenges of this sort that many pet parents aspire to is earning a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) award. Established in 1989, the CGC program was launched by the AKC to help encourage people to help their dogs learn the manners required to be appreciated and respected members of society. The CGC evaluation is a ten part test which includes the following:

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.

2. Sitting politely for petting: This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with it’s handler. The dog begins the exercise in a sit and may stand when petted.

3. Appearance and grooming: This 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.

4. Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead): This test demonstrates that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to the handler’s movements and changes of direction.

5. Walking through a crowd: This demonstrates that the dog can walk politely through pedestrian traffic and is under control in pedestrian traffic.

6. Sit and down on command, and staying in place: This demonstrates that the dog will respond to the handler’s request to sit and down and will stay in place until released.

7. Coming when called: This demonstartes the dog will come when called by their handler when placed ten feet away.

8. Reaction to another dog: This demonstrates the dog can behave politely around other dogs.

9. Reaction to distraction: This demonstrates the dog is confident when faced with common distractions.

10. Supervised separation: This test demonstrates the dog can be left with a trusted person.

The CGC award is not a competitive sport. But, mastering the skills can be the foundation for competitive dog sports. More importantly, it can be a goal to help you set the foundation for a future of fun with your dog in your daily life together.