How Your Dog Can Be A Canine Good Citizen

If there is one thing I know about us dog owners, we love to talk about and brag about our dogs.  Only with a group of dog owners is the topic of poop not off limits.  One thing that you and your dog can do together that is worth talking about is to train, practice for, and take the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test.  This is a 10 step test assembled by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and given by trainers that have passed the requirements to give the test.  Basically the test is just what it says – a way to measure your dogs’ good manners.

Unlike most AKC events, this achievement is open to pure bred and mixed breeds alike.  Here is a list of the 10 items that comprise the test.  You can go to for
a more detailed listing of what each step entails.

1.  Accepting a friendly stranger
2.  Sitting politely for petting
3.  Appearance and grooming
4.  Out for a walk (loose leash walking)
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
Here are some reasons aside from bragging rights that you may want to consider taking and passing this test.
  • Pure bred dogs can have this CGC added to their title
  • Some landlords require dogs to be CGC to be allowed to rent
  • CGC is usually the first step to becoming a therapy dog
  • It’s more fun to be able to take your dog places with you  (note that this does not allow your dog into public places that do not allow pets – it does not guarantee access like a Service Dog does)
  • Some places have incentives – local shelters may have a grant that allows them to collect money from that grant for each pitbull, or pit mix that passes the test.  You could be helping your local shelter.
  • Upon passing the test, the AKC issues a really nice certificate proclaiming your dog a Canine Good Citizen.  They also have tags, bandannas etc available for your dog to wear.
  • It is just fun to set a goal with your dog, practice, and reach the goal together.
Above all that, it’s just nice to be around a well-behaved dog. Please consider looking in your area for places and trainers that offer this test. I think you will be glad you did. Good luck!
Terry Meeks is a dog trainer, APDT Member an CGC Evaluator in Pinellas County, Florida.  Find Four on the Floor Dog Training at and on Facebook.

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