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  The Canine Good Citizen Test

The Canine Good Citizen® Certificate is awarded under rules established by the American Kennel Club (AKC). It is open to all dogs whether purebred or mixed breed. The description below is of the test I took with my dog in 1995. The specific elements are under review so please check with AKC for the latest requirements.

Overview of the Canine Good Citizen Test

Your dog must appear for the test well groomed. The collar may not be a pinch collar, electric collar, or similar correction collar. You will provide the examiner with a brush to help demonstrate your dog's tolerance for being handled by a stranger. The dog must allow the examiner to brush it and to examine its body. The test also includes the dog sitting calmly while a stranger pets it.

Your dog must be comfortable with the approach of a friendly stranger. The examiner will approach you and shake hands. Your dog should accept the approach calmly, without shyness or aggression. A friendly dog can fail this by approaching with too much enthusiasm. A polite dog waits for permission before touching a stranger.

Your dog must be able to walk without pulling on its leash. A formal heel is not required. Your dog must be able to walk through a crowd of people. Often the people will be doing all the things people do - opening umbrellas, walking on crutches, swinging a sweater, crossing suddenly in front of the dog. Your dog should not pull at the leash, jump at the people, or show either fear or aggression.

The examiner will ask you to have the dog sit and lie down on command. You will be asked to tell the dog to stay, then to step away from the dog, about twenty-five feet or so and call the dog. The dog should stay until called, and come when called. Unlike formal obedience, repeating a command is allowed.

An ability to regain self-control after excitement is an important part of the test. The examiner will have you play with the dog briefly then calm it. The dog should calm quickly.

Your dog must allow the approach of person with a strange dog. Typically, the other person will approach with a leashed dog and shake your hand. Showing aggression, fearfulness, or even excessive friendliness is grounds for failure.

Your dog must remain calm if you leave it briefly, (I think its three minutes). You will secure the dog to some object as directed by the examiner, and go out of sight of the dog. The dog may move around but it must not whine, bark, pull or otherwise show distress. An important point to note is that the dog is not left alone but is being left under the indirect supervision of a stranger. You should try to interact with the examiner so the dog is aware that you are not abandoning it, but the examiner will not correct or otherwise soothe the dog.

For further information

Look at the American Kennel Club site for the latest rules or contact them by e-mail at info@akc.org or phone (212) 696-8322  
Perhaps a description of how my dogs did on their CGC will give you some ideas about what it is really testing. Also, if you don't think your dog can pass, consider an obedience class. Visit before signing up so you can fnd one that is fun, and geared to practical obedience, not the sport. Your local SPCA is often the best place for such classes. I can't list individual traning sites but I do have some obedience and training links to help you get started.
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Copyright © 1997-2003, Diane Blackman     Created: September 28, 1997     Updated November 12, 2007    

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