The American Kennel Club (AKC) has helped countless dog owners to raise well-mannered pets. In 1989, they launched the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program to accomplish this goal. The program is designed to help owners teach their pets to display good manners, regardless of the circumstance. Once a dog “graduates,” his owner can take him anywhere, confident that he will remain calm and reliable.
Graduation from the CGC program is dependent on several tests. We’ll describe each of them below. If your canine can successfully pass the following 9 steps, he will officially become a “good citizen.”
An evaluator will approach your dog, and greet you in a normal, polite manner. He will shake hands with you, testing your pet’s ability to remain calm. During this exercise, the evaluator will note whether your pet seems shy, displays any aggression, or attempts to approach him.
This test determines whether your canine will accept a stranger petting him. As he sits or stands near your side, the evaluator will approach and pet your dog – both on the head and body. Your canine must remain calm, and let himself be petted without showing signs of shyness or excitability.
There are two parts to this test. First, the evaluator will note whether your pet appears well-groomed and healthy. This demonstrates that you are a responsible owner, addressing your pet’s needs. Second, the evaluator will use a comb or brush to groom your dog, testing his willingness to allow a stranger to do so.
This test helps to assess whether your canine believes you are in control when he is on-leash. You’ll be asked to walk with him by your side. The evaluator will watch for leash pulling and straying. You and your pet will be instructed to make turns, and perform an about-face. One or more stops will be included to note whether your dog responds to your movements.
Here, your pet is tested for his ability to walk calmly with multiple people near him. He can show curiosity as they pass by, but must avoid jumping, lunging, or barking. He should behave mannerly throughout the test.
This test evaluates whether your canine responds appropriately to basic commands, such as sit, down, stay, and come. For the stay command, a twenty-foot line will be given to you. After you tell your dog to stay, you’ll be asked to walk to the end of the line while your pet waits patiently for new instructions. The come command is delivered from ten feet away.
Your dog must remain well-mannered when exposed to other dogs that are unfamiliar to him. To demonstrate his ability to do so, you’ll be asked to approach another person who has a canine on-leash. You’ll say hello to each other and shake hands before continuing on your way in the opposite direction. Your pet should not display excitement or excess curiosity about the other animal.
This test assesses how well your canine can remain calm when distractions occur near him. The evaluator will present scenarios that are designed to sidetrack your pet. For example, he or she might jog or ride a bicycle past your canine. Or, the evaluator may also drop a box nearby. These disturbances might agitate or frighten an untrained dog. Your pet should stay relaxed.
This final test gauges how well your dog remains well-mannered in the care of a stranger to whom you give him. The evaluator will approach you, and ask whether he or she can watch your pet. You’ll be required to hand over the leash, and leave your canine’s sight for three minutes. It is fine for your pet to appear slightly anxious. However, he must refrain from constant barking and whining.
The Canine Good Citizen program can help your dog become a friendly, pleasant companion. By the time he graduates, you’ll be able to introduce him to strangers without concern.