What is a “CGC”?

June 9, 2011 at 1:57 am Leave a comment

I mentioned in my introduction that my dog, Reese, is a CGC. The acronym stands for Canine Good Citizen.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) introduced the test (actually, a series of 10 tests) in 1989. The program was designed to show that dogs had achieve an advanced level of training. Once reserved only for purebred dogs, it is now open to all dogs, mixed and purebred.

The 10 tests are:

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger — the dog must remain seated while a stranger approaches and greets the dog’s owner
  2. Sitting politely for petting — the dog must remain seated while a stranger gently pets the dog on its head or body
  3. Appearance and grooming — the dog must remain seated while a stranger runs a brush over the dog, and examines its ears and/or paws.
  4. Walking on a loose leash — the dog must walk with the handler on a loose leash, making a right turn, a left turn, an about-face, stopping at least once during the walk (the dog need not sit during the stop) and one at the end.
  5. Walking through a crowd — the dog must walk on a loose leash through a “crowd” of at least three people. The dog may show interest in the people, but may not pull toward them, or jump on them.
  6. Sit, Down, and Stay — The dog must sit on command, lie down on command, and stay in place (either sitting or lying down) while the handler walks 20 feet away.
  7. Coming when called — The dog must stay in place (either sitting or lying down) while the handler walks 10 feet away, then calls the dog to him/herself. The dog must go to the handler.
  8. Reaction to another dog — The dog and its handler approach another dog and handler from a distance of about twenty feet apart. The two handlers should stop, shake hands, then continue on. The dog being tested should remain seated and may show some interest in the other dog, but may not pull on the leash, growl, bark, or snap.
  9. Reaction to distraction — While walking on a loose leash, the evaluator will create a distraction (drop a metal bowl, drop a chair, etc.). The dog may startle, but should recover quickly. They should not bark, panic, or try to run away.
  10. Supervised separation — The handler hands the dog’s leash to another person, and leaves the dog for three minutes. The handler should be out of sight of the dog. The dog need not maintain a sit or down while the owner is gone, but should not pace, whine excessively, or try to pull in the direction the handler left.

More detailed information on the CGC test located here.

Many training facilities and individual trainers offer CGC Prep classes. Taking such a class is not required to test for the CGC. However, they do offer the opportunity to practice for the test. The AKC website has a search feature to help you find upcoming tests in your area.

Why test your dog for CGC? It’s often a stepping stone for those who want to get their dogs involved in therapy visits, obedience competitions, or dog sports like flyball or agility. For owners of so-called “aggressive breeds,” it can lower insurance premiums, or possibly even allow your dog to reside in apartment buildings that otherwise prohibit such breeds. Training with your dog creates a bond between you. Dogs who go through obedience gain confidence, and trust their owners. Dogs who are formally trained in obedience are easier to live with, and respond better to commands.

Earning a CGC certification should NOT signal the end of training. Training should be a lifelong activity between you and your dog. There are always ways to make known commands more difficult, and there are always new tricks to learn. The mental stimulation involved in training is almost as tiring as physical exercise.

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