What is Canine Good Citizenship (CGC)?


Canine Good Citizen dog tag.
Canine Good Citizen dog tag. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is Canine Good Citizenship (CGC) Program and why did I become an evaluator?

This year I became the 4H dog project key leader in this county and I worked with a great bunch of kids and their dogs in preparation for the fair dog agility, showmanship and obedience contests. One of things that seemed to be missing for some of them was the underlying behaviors needed and CGC highlights and tests for those behaviors. Also I have had requests from some of the adults who come and train their dogs in my classes  for something more and CGC is now, this year an AKC title (both for purebred and mixed breed dogs). Many therapy dog organizations use it as an initial screening need. There are quite a few good reasons along with more and more communities and businesses recognizing it as a key to dog admittance.

CGC is a two-part program 1) teaching responsible dog ownership and 2) certifying dogs that have the training and behaviors needed to be reliable, well-behaved members of their families and communities. For more detailed information go to http://www.AKC.org and search CGC.

There are 10 items in the test and all of them need to be passed to meet the requirements of the CGC title: 1. Accepting a friendly stranger, 2. Sitting politely for petting, 3. Appearance and grooming – includes brushing, ear inspection and handling feet, 4. Walking on a loose leash (right turn, left turn, about turn), 5. Walking through a crowd – may include people with cane, wheelchair, dog, 6. Sit and Down on Command/ Staying in place – 20 feet away, 7. Coming when called – from 10 feet, 8. Reaction to another dog – should show no more than casual interest, 9. Reaction to distraction – common things in community, jogger, bike 10 feet away…, 10. Supervised separation – dog left with trusted person for three minutes with no signs of agitation.

All in all reasonable things for you and your dog to be able to do, but certainly for many dogs and their people, not so easy. During this test you can talk to and praise your dog, commands may be given several times and you may use touch to offer gentle guidance, but the dog does need to respond. This is a program that encourages owners to have fun with their dogs (harsh corrections are not permitted and are grounds for dismissal). Having a dog that can do all these things means they can go with you to so many places and be welcome.

The S.T.A.R. puppy program includes a mandatory, at least 6 weeks, training class, evidence of responsible dog ownership in class and the evaluation occurs during class and (optionally) at a final test of the above items – with slightly easier criteria.

I’ll be offering individual classes during the winter season for CGC preparation and in spring I’ll set up S.T.A.R. puppy classes (as this is an evaluation process through the classes). Depending on interest I’ll set up some testing times, it takes a group effort to make it all happen. I think it will be great to have more canine good citizens in our communities.

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