Dabl at Home
Your Dog Could Be The Next Canine Good Citizen!
Mastering the Canine Good Citizen Program will teach your dog basic skills that instill confidence and good behavior both in and out of the home!
If nothing else, pet owners have a responsibility to teach their dogs basic obedience. But in reality, training your dog is a life-long process. Even if you aren’t actively teaching new tricks or skills, you are always reinforcing how you want your dog to behave in your home regardless if you actually realize it or not. But if you are looking for a way to go above and beyond with your dog’s training and strengthen the bond the two of you share, you may be interested in pursuing the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program (CGC).
The American Kennel Club (AKC) created the Canine Good Citizen Program to “promote responsible dog ownership and encourage the training of well-mannered dogs.” Throughout the training program, dogs of all breeds and ages are taught 10 fundamental skills that instill confidence and promote good behavior in a variety of situations. Once your dog has completed his training and is certified as a CGC, he will have proven he mastered the following skills:
1.) Allowing a friendly stranger to approach the owner
2.) Remaining calm while being petted by a stranger
3.) Remaining calm and comfortable while being handled in a manner similarly to what he may experience at the vet or grooming salon
4.) Walking on a loose leash without pulling or lunging
5.) Calmly walking through a crowd with a loose leash
6.) Obeying basic obedience commands like “sit,” “down,” and “stay”
7.) Remaining calm when other dogs approach and not reacting aggressively toward other canines
8.) Remaining calm and composed when distractions like loud noises are present
9.) Remaining calm and composed when the owner hands the dog’s leash to another person and walks away
10.) Has a reliable recall and comes when called
Dogs of all ages, breeds, and mixes are eligible to complete the training program and take the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test. If you have a puppy, you can start their Canine Good Citizen training early by enrolling them in an AKC S.T.A.R class that lays the foundation for teaching the skills your puppy will need to pass the CGC test when he matures. If you want your dog to work as a service dog or therapy dog, passing the Canine Good Citizen test may be a required qualification for them to work in public. But even house pets and their owners can benefit because this certification definitely strengthens their bond and can lead to perks like home insurance discounts. Many apartments, condos, and rental properties are also more willing to lease units out to homes that have a CGC dog than a non-CGC dog.
Training for the Canine Good Citizen test also takes less time than you might think. AKC approved courses typically only take around 6 weeks to complete, with each class teaching different skills your pup will need to master for the CGC test. You can also prepare for the test privately with a certified dog trainer. While 6 weeks doesn’t sound like much time, note that you will need to be spending lots of time practicing with your dog at home between class meetings. Even after the class ends and the test is complete, you’ll need to continue reinforcing the skills your dog has learned in the years to come to make sure his good behavior sticks around.
If you’ve been preparing for the CGC test through an AKC approved course, the Canine Good Citizen Test will likely happen during the last class meeting. However, you can also be tested by a private CGC trainer. The test takes around 30 minutes and the first task actually starts with the pet parent! The owner will need to read and sign the Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge. By signing, the owner is asserting that they will be the best pet parent possible, will always look out for their dog’s health and safety, and will do everything within their power to ensure their dog is a good friend, companion, and member of the community. The evaluator will then observe your dog’s behavior and responses to your cues as you complete 10 challenges to show your dog has mastered the 10 fundamental CGC skills. Once you and your pup pass the test, you will receive an official certificate from the American Kennel Club and your dog will have earned the right to wear special CGC insignia. If you register your dog with an AKC number, they will also be given an official CGC title.
You and your pup will need a perfect score to pass, so don’t worry if it doesn’t happen the first time. Test anxiety can sometimes lead to a failure to perform. If you don’t pass, use the experience as a practice round and don’t sweat it. You are absolutely allowed to take the test multiple times. If you do pass, your dog will now be well equipped to continue training as a service dog or therapy dog. You can also use the Canine Good Citizen program as a foundation for teaching your dog to do canine sports or continue training your dog with more advanced CGC classes. Once you pass the first CGC test, dogs are then eligible to pursue further training to earn the titles of AKC Community Canine and AKC Urban Canine Good Citizen.
Ultimately, successfully completing the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program is a huge accomplishment. Your dog will be joining the ranks of the more than a million dogs who have completed the program before him and will have cemented his status as one of the best of the best. Even if you don’t pursue further training after the CGC program, you’ll probably have the most well behaved dog in the neighborhood and will have certainly improved your relationship with your fur baby.