Canine Good Citizen: What It Is, Why It Matters

We all know one of those dogs. He’s the one who’s welcome everywhere. He brightens everyone’s day, whether he’s performing tricks, prancing in a show ring, walking down the street, or soothing the spirits of an ailing child. He’s the kind of dog you never worry about, even if you leave him in the kitchen with a pot roast on the table. He never yanks an arm out of a socket on a walk. He never knocks down Grandma. The mailman brings him cookies.

Wouldn’t it be great if this dog were your dog? He can be, and you can take a big step towards having this dream pet by training for and taking the AKC Canine Good Citizen test. It’s composed of 10 simple items, which include politely greeting a stranger, walking nicely on a loose leash, and obeying the commands sit, down, stay, and come.

“The dog who passes this test has an advanced degree in good manners,” says AKC CGC Director Mary Burch.

More than 700,000 dogs have earned their CGC certificates, says Dr. Burch.

Many groups that train service dogs use it as the first step in determining if a candidate has what it takes for these demanding jobs.

Then, of course, there are the countless stories of ordinary dogs and their owners, for whom mastering these 10 skills became the gateway to bigger and better things, such as therapy-dog work and all kinds of sports. And, perhaps, most important, for many, many dogs, the test became the key to having a long happy life, a joy and asset to any family.

The potential is there in practically every dog. It may take some time, effort, and discipline to bring it out, but the rewards are huge. 

Make 2015 the year that you discover how great life can be with one of those special dogs; make it the year you earn your CGC. Find out about upcoming NYC testing events here. 

The 10 Items

1-Greeting a friendly stranger
2-Sitting politely for petting
3-Appearance and grooming
4-Walking on a loose leash
5-Walking through a crowd
6-Sit and down on command
7-Coming when called
8-Reaction to another dog
9-Reaction to distractions
10-Supervised separation