Who’s a Canine Good Citizen?

The Canine Good Citizen Award

Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy?

No doubt you’ve said this to your dog many times (or maybe you say Who’s a Good Girl?). But did you know that if your dog is a really good boy (or girl), or can be trained to be a good boy or good girl, there’s a program that will give him or her (and you) the recognition that they (and you) deserve?

The Canine Good Citizen program is an American Kennel Club program open to all dogs, both mixed breed and purebred. Its purpose is to reward dogs and their owners who can show that they have good manners both in the community and at home. It fundamentally stresses responsible dog ownership and good social skills. Dogs who take part in the program go through a 10-part test and, if they pass, receive a certificate from the AKC and the CGC title. They actually will be able to add the suffix, “CGC” after their names.

The Canine Good Citizen program is often the first step for an owner and their dog in obedience training. They may go on to participate in obedience competitions, agility or rally events. However, many people earn the CGC title just to prove that their dogs have basic obedience skills, and good manners. The CGC title is often accepted as proof by landlords and others that a dog has basic obedience skills. Forty-two state legislatures have already passed resolutions endorsing the Canine Good Citizen program at the state level.

Canine Good Citizen

Before taking the CGC test (sometimes at a dog show or other AKC event, sometimes at a dog training center with a certified tester), an owner will sign a Responsible Dog Owners Pledge. After that, he/she and their dog will go through the following 10-step test:

Test 1: Accepting a Friendly Stranger

This test shows that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach and greet the handler. The evaluator comes up to the owner and speaks to him/her while ignoring the dog.

Test 2: Sitting Politely for Petting

In this test, the dog should allow a friendly stranger to touch him while he’s out with his owner. The owner may talk to the dog throughout the test.

Test 3: Appearance and Grooming

In this test, the dog should welcome being groomed and examined. He should allow someone, such as a vet, groomer, or friendly stranger to go over him. The evaluator will look over the dog to see that he/she is clean and groomed. The dog should appear to be in good condition. The evaluator then combs or brushes the dog, checks the ears, and picks up the front paws. This simulates a vet exam – dogs should be well-behaved during vet exams.

Brushing Dog's Coat

Test 4: Out for a Walk (Walking on a Loose Lead)

This test shows that the owner is in control of the dog on a loose leash. The dog may walk on either side of the owner. The dog should appear to be attentive and responsive to the owner’s changes of direction. There are several turns on a course in this test. The owner can talk to the dog, praise the dog, and give commands.

Test 5: Walking Through a Crowd

The test shows that the dog can move calmly and politely in foot traffic and be controlled in public places. The dog and owner walk around and pass close to several people. There should be no over-excitement, shyness or resentment.

Test 6: Sit and Down on Command and Staying in Place

This test shows the dog’s training and that he will respond to his owner’s commands to sit and lie down. He should also remain in the place commanded by his owner. The leash is replaced with a 20-foot line during this test.

Pekinese Dog Sitting and Staying

Test 7: Coming When Called

During this test, the owner walks 10 feet from the dog, faces the dog, and calls.

Test 8: Reaction to Another Dog

This test shows that the dog can behave well around other dogs.

Test 9: Reaction to Distraction

During this test the evaluator chooses two distractions. These can be dropping a chair, having a jogger go by, dropping a cane, etc. The dog should not show any panic or try to run away or otherwise misbehave.

Dog is not distracted

Test 10: Supervised Separation

This final test shows that the dog can be left with someone and still maintain his good manners. The owner is out of sight for three minutes. The dog shouldn’t bark the whole time, whine, or show more than mild agitation.

All of the exercises are performed on a leash. Your dog should wear a buckle or slip collar. Leather, fabric, or chain collars are fine. You should bring your dog’s comb or brush with you to the test.

Kennel clubs and dog training centers offer classes for the Canine Good Citizen test but it is possible to pass the test without taking any classes. You can prepare for it with your dog at home.

Dog on Leash

The Canine Good Citizen test is a good test for dogs and their owners. It’s good for your dog to learn some basic manners and for you to work with your dog on simple obedience lessons. These lessons will come in handy again and again for your dog and make him a more desirable dog in the community.

To find out more about the Canine Good Citizen test, or if you are interested in becoming an evaluator, visit the AKC website at https://www.akc.org/dog-owners/training/canine-good-citizen/.


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