Since 1989, the American Kennel Club has offered a Canine Good Citizen certification for good mannered dogs and responsible pet owners. CGC certification is a great base for further activities like obedience training, agility, and other performance events.
Before beginning the program, owners must sign the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge, agreeing to take care of their dog’s health, safety, training, and quality of life.
The Canine Good Citizen test has ten parts:
- Accepting a friendly stranger. The dog should be neither resentful nor shy, and should not try to go to the evaluator for attention. Evaluator and handler will shake hands and exchange greetings.
- Sitting politely for petting. Handler asks the dog to sit. Evaluator pets the dog. Again, the dog should be neither resentful nor shy.
- Appearance and grooming. The handler will inspect the dog. The dog should be in healthy condition and should welcome being groomed and examined.
- Walking on a loose lead. At the command of the evaluator, the handler and dog walk a course with different turns and stops. The dog should be attentive to the handler at all times.
- Walking through a crowd. The dog and handler will walk around at least three people. The dog should not be over-exuberant, shy, or resentful.
- Sit, down, and stay. This tests the dog’s training. The handler will walk twenty feet away from the dog while the dog remains in place.
- Coming when called. Another training test.
- Reaction to another dog. Two handlers and dogs will approach each other. The handlers will stop and shake hands. The dogs should show only casual interest in each other.
- Reaction to distraction. The evaluator will pick two distractions to present to the dog, like a jogger or a dropped chair. The dog may show interest and curiosity, but should not panic, try to run, bark, or show aggressiveness.
- Supervised separation. The dog is left with the evaluator while the owner goes out of sight for three minutes. The dog should not whine, pace, or show other signs of anxiety or nervousness.
If you think your dog is a candidate for Canine Good Citizen certification, you can learn more about training and testing at the American Kennel Club website.