Everyday Training: 10 Things the Canine Good Citizen Certificate says about your dog

When you hike together with other dogs or attend other activities like a picnic, you want to know that the dogs you will be around are well-behaved and well-socialized. You also want to take comfort in the fact that the owner knows how to handle their dog and that they communicate well. If someone tells you that their dog is CGC certified, or has passed the CGC, do you know what that means?

Having an AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate gives owners peace of mind that a dog is well-mannered and that the owner is responsible. It says that your dog can perform the following behaviors consistenly and with distractions:

  1. S/he will sit politely for petting
  2. S/he will accept a friendly stranger without jumping on them
  3. S/he will sit calmly and allow basic grooming
  4. S/he will walk on a loose leash
  5. Will walk gracefully through a crowd
  6. S/he will sit and/or lay down on command; and stay in place
  7. Will come when called from a distance of 10 feet, sometimes more
  8. Will react appropriately to another dog
  9. Will react appropriately to distractions
  10. S/he will calmly endure supervised spearation from his/her owner
NOTE that unless you continue to reinforce these behaviors, your dog's training can lapse after a while. It is important to continue to practice these behaviors or a form of them. You don't have to spend an hour everyday. You might take 5 minutes to work on Stay, or Come, and reinforce it with a treat. At the very base of all this training, what the CGC actually tells us, is that you have been to training; you know how to communicate with your dog; you have set expectations for your dog's behavior and that you have taken the time to commit yourself to this much training, 

What is the Canine Good Citizen Certificate?
It is the first level, and starting point to many other advanced training opportunities.  The test consists of 10 behaviors and is given by a certified evaluator. If you have taken your dog to at least intermediate level obedience, in most cases, your dog may just pass the test.  By the way, you don't have to be in a certified training course for the CGC, you just have to have a trained dog to take the test.  Any trainer can help you.  

If your dog can pass all of these, then you can apply to the AKC for a CGC certificate.  You do not need to have an AKC registration number to apply.  Right now, the fee for a certificate only is $8.  Though many places charge between $10 to $20 to take the test.

If you do have an AKC number, the CGC will be part of your dog's registration in the AKC bank.  Additionally, your dog does NOT need to be a purebred in order to be registered with the AKC.  You can register through the AKC K9 pals program and still get a number. This number will allow you to acheive certificates and titles in higher levels of training and activities, such as Rally, Agility and Therapy dog work.

Has your dog passed the CGC? What was the hardest part of the test for your dog?  Are you working towards your CGC or have you ever thought about this certificate for your dog? What do you find to be the hardest behavior for your dog to learn?