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What is the Canine Good Citizen program and test

Learn about The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test, and how it can help you and your dog be the best you can be, together. 

Have you ever been out and about, maybe at a park or outdoor restaurant, and seen a dog that is just a gem? Walking quietly but with a bounce in its step. Sitting patiently, even when cars, skateboards, or yappy (unmannered!) dogs create temptation. 

Those are good citizens – of the canine variety! And those are what we love to help nurture, in part with the help of the Canine Good Citizen test.

What is the Canine Good Citizen Test? 

Canine Good Citizen, initiated by the American Kennel Club in 1989, offers helpful behavior goals for owners and their furry friends. 

It’s a 10-skill test that teaches good manners to dogs and responsible dog ownership to their owners. The CGC test evaluates dogs on their ability to behave well in various real-life situations.

The Canine Good Citizen test evaluates your best pal for proficiency in the following skills:

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger: The dog should remain calm and polite when approached by a stranger.
  2. Sitting politely for petting: The dog should allow a friendly stranger to pet them while remaining calm and under control.
  3. Appearance and grooming: The dog should be well-groomed and demonstrate good hygiene.
  4. Walking on a loose leash: The dog should walk politely on a leash without pulling or lunging.
  5. Walking through a crowd: The dog should remain calm and under control while walking through a group of people.
  6. Sit, down, and stay on command: The dog should respond promptly to commands to sit, lie down, and stay in place.
  7. Coming when called: The dog should come when called by its owner.
  8. Reaction to another dog: The dog should behave calmly and politely when encountering another dog.
  9. Reaction to distractions: The dog should be able to remain focused and calm in the presence of distractions.
  10. Supervised separation: The dog should be able to remain calm and relaxed when left with a trusted person for a short period.

Dogs that pass all ten components of the test receive a certificate from the American Kennel Club recognizing them as a Canine Good Citizen. 

Of course, the biggest prize of all is knowing you’ll be able to include your dog in more of your daily activities, because you won’t have to worry about their response to situations you’ll both encounter!

The CGC program is a prerequisite for participation in other dog sports and activities, and it can also be a stepping stone to therapy or service dog certification

Here at College for Pets, we offer multiple options for service dog and puppy training programs that are popular among dog-loving families in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont.

Who Can Participate in the Canine Good Citizen program?

All dogs! The American Kennel Club specifies that CGC is open to all dogs, whether purebred or mixed breed. There are no age minimums or limits for participating in the Canine Good Citizen program either, because yes, you can always teach an old dog new tricks!

What advantages does the Canine Good Citizen program offer?

Through practicing the skills together, and learning to communicate with your dog, you and your pal will grow closer, and build more mutual understanding. You’ll strengthen the bond between you and your dog, which in turn fosters a closer partnership and trust. 

Through this program, you’ll both master fundamental training principles, refining essential skills such as sitting, lying down, and staying in all sorts of situations. You’ll see your dog transform into a valued member of the community, enhancing its socialization and behavior in public settings. Most owners find going through the program opens up a whole new, more enjoyable, life with their dog.

How do you get started with Canine Good Citizen?

If you’re highly motivated and disciplined, you can teach your dog the 10 CGC skills yourself, or work with a certified trainer or training class like those we offer at College for Pets.

If you aspire to train your dog better manners or to forge an extraordinary bond, College For Pets is here to assist you every step of the way!

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