AKC’s Canine Good Citizen Program: What is it?

by Melissa R. on November 9, 2011

AKC Canine Good Citizen

AKC Canine Good Citizen

Have you ever heard of the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Canine Good Citizen Program? I heard about it many years ago when I had my first dog on my own.

Molly was a 6-year-old Irish Setter I got from rescue. I wanted to take an obedience class with her, so that we could learn how to communicate with each other, be trained a little, and enjoy some quality time together. She had been a rather sheltered dog in her former life, so getting her out in public and with other dogs was very important. I found an obedience class being taught in the area, and there is where I heard about the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Program. At the end of our obedience class, there was going to be an official test for the CGC Program! We could participate if we chose to. We did, and passed with flying colors. So, my Molly was officially a Canine Good Citizen and we got a badge and certificate, which made me quite proud.

The CGC program has been around for quite a number of years, starting in 1989. It is a way to reward pet owners for being responsible and reward the pets for learning good manners. It is a great first step in training your dog. All ages of dogs and all types of dogs are welcome (mixed breed as well as pure breeds). There are 10 parts involved in the test:

Molly, my Canine Good Citizen

Molly, my Canine Good Citizen

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger
  2. Sitting politely for petting
  3. Appearance and grooming
  4. Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
  5. Walking through a crowd
  6. Sit and down on command and Staying in place
  7. Coming when called
  8. Reaction to another dog
  9. Reaction to distraction
  10. Supervised separation

All of which go to show you are a responsible pet owner with a well-mannered dog. Many people use the CGC program as first step towards Therapy Dog training! Are you interested in getting your dog CGC certified? Check out the AKC’s website for testing available in your area. It’s a great way to bond with your pet, and become a proud pet owner!

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  • Living With a Blind Dog – How to help your blind dog get around in the house.
  • Puppy Training Classes – At puppy classes, you expect your puppy to learn some basic commands that will help her become a well-behaved dog. True, but there’s so much more!

About the author: Melissa is a devoted pet owner with several cats: Kai, Cirrhi & Ritter; and the newest addition, Emme a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Melissa is an avid dog agility enthusiast, and hopes her new pup will someday be an agility champion! She is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for the DrsFosterSmith.com and LiveAquaria.com websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University and is a lifelong pet lover and owner. See more articles by Melissa R.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosemary November 9, 2011 at 10:27 am

Sigh. Ilka has failed twice. She has trouble with what I call the “Four On The Floor” rule. As in, if you have four feet, then all four belong on the floor, unless told otherwise (ie “Beg”). She kept jumping up on the evaluaters. Lucky got his earlier this year at age eleven.

You didn’t mention Mocca, so I guess that you haven’t found a test for her yet? How has chasing her MACH been going? Ilka blew all four (Excused in three, NQ’d in one) of her Rally Advanced and both Novice (NQ’s) obedience classes last month, but managed to get the last leg of her Beginner Novice title. The Coursing Ability Test we were going to attend got canceled, so she missed out on what would probably have been an easy title for her. .

melissa November 9, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Hi Rosemary!

Thanks for inquiring about Mocca. There hasn’t been a test near here at all, it is frustrating. I would have if there had been a test around. We have been laid up from agility for a bit as Mocca has developed some arthritis.. Might be time to retire! Blog post to come on that. Thanks again.. and sorry miss Ilka cant stay all 4 on the floor! LOL!

Nikki April 23, 2012 at 10:11 am

I’m training my dog right now and when we are done, I’m going to take the CGC test with her. I’m so excited because she started out so shy and now she is going up to people and saying hi to them. The CGC test is going to show everyone just how far she has come 🙂
Also, #PETS, busy buddy bone

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