Dog Care

The Canine Good Citizen: More than Just a Certificate

This is a guest post by Carrie Boyko from All Things Dog Blog.

At the heart of the American Kennel Club’s devotion to dogs lies their commitment to owners’ proper care and handling of their canines. Earning the coveted Canine Good Citizen certificate is the first level for many owners. The CGC certificate is often required to enter training as a working dog. This certification includes more than mere obedience and proper care; it requires the teaching of proper behavior, manners and socialization. And it does not stop there.

Taking their seriousness to another level, the AKC requires several additional confirmations of good teamwork from a dog and its handler:

Before taking the test, the AKC requires that owners sign a Responsible Dog Owners Pledge, promising to take care of their dog’s health, safety, exercise, training and quality of life, among other items.

The CGC evaluation is a 10 item test, during which the examiner will assess the dog and handler’s ability to behave calmly in public; allow social interactions with dog and owner; perform skills such as sit, stay, down, and come; manage environments where other dogs are present; accept a separation of dog and owner for a brief time without anxiety; stay calm during distracting noises, and permit a physical exam and grooming without issue.

Each of the items on the test is taken as seriously as another, and only a 100% completion will permit certification. This is a Pass or Fail test, so owners tend to take it seriously. And so they should. A qualified CGC dog should always be a good example of proper behavior in public, thus helping to ensure their place in the many areas where they can work alongside humans for the sake of our health and safety.

The CGC exam is given only by experienced trainers who have been qualified as CGC evaluators by the AKC. To find an evaluator in your area, check with the AKC at this link. Most trainers recommend that dogs and their handlers take an advanced training class to prepare for the CGC evaluation. This extra training will allow the evaluator to assist the owner with any areas of difficulty, to better prepare both for the exam. Good luck in this important step as a team with your dog.