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Take the Test

Once you and your pup have tackled the challenges, mastered the 10 test skills, bonded over successes and the occasional failure, and celebrated with plenty of praise along the way, you’re ready to take the Canine Good Citizen™  test!

Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge

The first step in passing the CGC test is actually all about you, the human! When you meet your evaluator to take the CGC test, you’ll read and sign the CGC Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge before your dog starts any of her activities. This promise shows that you’re committed to being the best dog owner you can be by always providing for your dog’s health and safety, ensuring that your dog never infringes on the rights of others, and doing everything within your power to ensure your dog is a great companion, community member, and friend. 

Test Items

As you go through the skills, the evaluator may use more formal language (it is a test afterall). Below are how evaluators commonly refer to the skills in the testing environment – but don’t worry about the more formal language. They’re still the same 10 behaviors you’ve been working on together, just in a uniform way so CGC dogs from California to Connecticut all know they’re being evaluated in the same fashion.

Once you pass your CGC test, you can send in the paperwork provided by your evaluator to the AKC for your official title and certification!

  • Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger +

    This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The evaluator walks up to the dog and handler and greets the handler in a friendly manner, ignoring the dog. The evaluator and handler shake hands and exchange pleasantries. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness.

  • Test 2: Sitting politely for petting +

    This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. With the dog sitting at the handler’s side, to begin the exercise, the evaluator pets the dog on the head and body. The handler may talk to his or her dog throughout the exercise. The dog may stand in place as it is petted. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.

  • Test 3: Appearance and grooming +

    This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so. It also demonstrates the owner’s care, concern and sense of responsibility. The evaluator inspects the dog to determine if it is clean and groomed. The dog must appear to be in healthy condition (i.e., proper weight, clean, healthy and alert). The handler should supply the comb or brush commonly used on the dog. The evaluator then softly combs or brushes the dog, and in a natural manner, lightly examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. It is not necessary for the dog to hold a specific position during the examination, and the handler may talk to the dog, praise it and give encouragement throughout.

  • Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead) +

    This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog may be on either side of the handler. The dog’s position should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to the handler’s movements and changes of direction. The dog need not be perfectly aligned with the handler and need not sit when the handler stops. The evaluator may use a pre-plotted course or may direct the handler/dog team by issuing instructions or commands. In either case, there should be a right turn, left turn, and an about turn with at least one stop in between and another at the end. The handler may talk to the dog along the way, praise the dog, or give commands in a normal tone of voice. The handler may sit the dog at the halts if desired. Read More: How to Train a Puppy to Walk on a Leash

  • Test 5: Walking through a crowd +

    This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three). The dog may show some interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with the handler, without evidence of over-exuberance, shyness or resentment. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise the dog throughout the test. The dog should not jump on people in the crowd or strain on the leash.

  • Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place +

    This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler’s commands to sit and down and will remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers). The dog must do sit AND down on command, then the owner chooses the position for leaving the dog in the stay. Prior to this test, the dog’s leash is replaced with a line 20 feet long. The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to get the dog to sit and then down. The evaluator must determine if the dog has responded to the handler’s commands. The handler may not force the dog into position but may touch the dog to offer gentle guidance. When instructed by the evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward the length of the line, turns and returns to the dog at a natural pace. The dog must remain in the place in which it was left (it may change position) until the evaluator instructs the handler to release the dog. The dog may be released from the front or the side.

  • Test 7: Coming when called +

    This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog. The handler may use encouragement to get the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell dogs to “stay” or “wait” or they may simply walk away, giving no instructions to the dog.

  • Test 8: Reaction to another dog +

    This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.

  • Test 9: Reaction to distraction +

    This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations. The evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity and/or may appear slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise it throughout the exercise.

  • Test 10: Supervised separation +

    This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, “Would you like me to watch your dog?” and then take hold of the dog’s leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness. Evaluators may talk to the dog but should not engage in excessive talking, petting, or management attempts (e.g. “there, there, it’s alright”).

Encouragement

Just like any other challenge, it always helps to have a bit of praise and encouragement to get you, and your pup, through. Verbal praise, and pets between skills, are totally allowed, but treats, squeaky toys, etc. can’t be used as motivation. We understand that food and toys are valuable tools during training, but during the test, you and your pup need to be treat and toy-free.

Dismissals

All Canine Good Citizens know you can’t go to the bathroom inside the house, so any dog that has an accident during testing must be marked failed. The only exception to this rule is that potty breaks are allowed on test Item 10 (Supervised Separation), but only when test Item 10 is held outdoors.

Any dog that growls, snaps, bites, attacks, or attempts to attack a person or another dog is not a good citizen and must be dismissed from the test.

Equipment

When it comes time to take your CGC test, there are a few things you’ll need to bring with you. 

 

First, the CGC test must be performed on leash. Just note that special training collars such as pinch collars, head halters, and electronic collars are not allowed.

Body harnesses can be used for the CGC test, but the evaluator will check to make sure it won’t completely restrict your dog’s movement. This is so if your dog tries to jump or pull, it can (but won’t, because of the great CGC training you’ve done). 

Also, be sure to bring a brush or comb for the grooming skill.

Take the Test

Taking the 10-step CGC test is final payoff for all your hard work! Once you feel like you and your dog have mastered all ten skills (or completed the appropriate class/training series), you’re ready to go through them with an AKC Approved CGC Evaluator. 

If you’ve been working with a trainer, either one-on-one or in a group setting, be sure to ask if they can also administer the test. Most trainers are evaluators, and that comes with a nice bonus for you: you’ll be in the testing ring with a friendly face who already knows you and your dog. 

If you’ve been training on your own, or working with a trainer who isn’t able to give you the exam, click the link to search for Evaluators in your area.