The AKC Canine Good Citizen™ (CGC) program provides a perfect framework for training your dog to become a polite member of society. CGC classes will help you and your dog learn the 10 skills in the program. You can polish off these skills at home or in the backyard, and when you’re ready, you can take the test administered in person by an AKC CGC Approved Evaluator.
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While not all CGC training can be done at home, these are basic instructions to build upon once you are safe to return to the public. Read on for step-by-step instructions for working with your dog at home to prepare for the CGC test.
Item 1: Allowing a Friendly Stranger to Approach
Socializing your dog to all kinds of people from an early age will go a long way to passing this test. You can also encourage your dog to focus on you by teaching a “Watch Me” cue. The following steps will help you add distractions once your dog understands the basics:
Item 2: Sitting Politely for Petting
Socialization is an important component of passing this test. So is teaching your dog to control their emotions during greetings. Train your dog to sit and relax while being petted with the following steps:
Item 3: Accepting Grooming and an Examination
Handling exercises will help your dog become comfortable with touch. Sensitive dogs can benefit from counterconditioning, a technique that changes a negative emotional response to a positive one. The following steps will help:
Item 4: Walking on a Loose Leash
To train loose leash walking, never let your dog earn a reward for pulling. Your dog should only get to walk when the leash is slack. Try the following steps:
Item 5: Walking Politely Through a Crowd
This is another test of loose leash walking skills, but now there are distractions involved. To pass this test, when possible include other people, other dogs, and exciting things to smell in your advanced loose leash walking training. The “Let’s Go” cue can be used to tell your dog to keep moving. It can also be helpful to teach a “Leave It” cue that lets your dog know when something is off-limits.
Item 6: Sitting and Lying Down on Cue and Staying in Place
Lure-and-reward training is a great method for teaching sit and down to your dog. These are the basic steps:
When teaching stay, be aware of the three Ds – distance, distractions, and duration. Try the following steps:
Item 7: Coming When Called
For a successful recall, your dog should think coming to you is exciting and rewarding. Never use the recall cue to end your dog’s fun. Start training in a quiet area with no distractions. The following steps will help build a strong recall:
Item 8: Reacting Politely to Other Dogs
If your dog is nervous around other dogs, an exercise like the one in item three can help your dog become more comfortable. Simply start with your dog far enough away from the other dog that they aren’t upset. Reward your dog in the presence of the other dog. Slowly decrease the distance.
If your dog gets overly excited by other dogs, use dogs as part of your distraction training. You can also use the “Leave It” cue and/or the “Watch Me” cue to get your dog’s focus on you rather than the other dog.
Item 9: Reacting Calmly to a Distraction
A well-socialized dog will be a more confident dog which is helpful for passing this test. You can also desensitize your dog to distractions similar to what the evaluator will use for the test (a dropped food dish, a jogger moving past the dog, etc.). Start with the distraction at a low enough level that your dog doesn’t react. Follow these steps:
Item 10: Reacting Calmly to Supervised Separation From the Owner
An important step for passing this test is alone time training. Teach your dog to be comfortable away from you with the following steps: