Canine Good Citizen® Test
The CGC is a non-competitive, 10 activity test that awards certificates to dogs passing all 10 of the exercises. Dogs awarded the CGC certificate are believed to possess the training and demeanor necessary to be reliable, well-behaved members of their communities.
The American Kennel Club introduced the CGC test to the general public in 1989 to emphasize the importance of training for the family dog. Other countries (England, Sweden, Canada, etc.) have implemented similar “good citizen” programs since that time.
The CGC test is held in a relaxed atmosphere and is intended to be a positive learning experience for handler and dog.
Capital Dog Training Club is one of many organizations (breed clubs, training clubs, therapy dog evaluators, veterinarians, etc.) in the Washington area authorized to administer the CGC test. Capital has been offering the CGC at our training club since 1994.
Any member of the public who has a dog, which the person believes has the training and demeanor required to pass the 10 exercises.
Basic obedience skills should suffice—Sits, Stays, Recalls, and walking politely on leash. Most classes in basic dog obedience offer training in these exercises.
Additionally, a CGC dog must genially accept mild petting and grooming from an unfamiliar person, be comfortable in a group of strangers, not over-react to mild distractions, and accept being separated from its owner for a brief period. (For specific descriptions see Can you briefly describe the 10 tests? below.)
While it certainly helps when a dog has received formal training in a group class, it is not a pre-requisite to take the test. Many dogs who have earned their CGC have done so based on training and socialization given them by their owners in their own homes and neighborhoods.
Absolutely not! Any dog, mixed or pure, can become a Canine Good Citizen. All dogs are welcome at Capital Dog Training Club.
Yes. Your dog must be under the care of a licensed veterinarian, and you will be asked to sign the American Kennel Club’s “Dog Owner’s Pledge” attesting to this. Moreover, your dog MUST be current on its rabies vaccination as Capital Dog Training Club requires this of all dogs entering our facility.
Your dog must respond to your verbal prompts to carry out the required behaviors during the 10 tests. Physical prompts (e.g. pushing a dog into a Sit, holding the dog’s collar to prevent leash pulling, etc.) are not permitted. Moreover, food is not permitted during the test because the test seeks to determine whether the dog can be controlled when there are “no special incentives.”
At each of the 10 testing stations a test evaluator will observe you and your dog perform one or more of the activities described below. The evaluator will grade your performance with a “pass” or “does not pass” score. You and your dog must earn a “pass” on all ten tests to be awarded the CGC certificate.
The 10 tests are fully described in The American Kennel Club (AKC), and we quote liberally from the AKC’s web page in our following description of the ten items:
- Friendly Stranger: this test demonstrates whether the dog will allow a “friendly stranger” (CGC evaluator) to approach its handler. The evaluator shakes hands and engages in conversation with the handler. “The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness and must not break position to go to the evaluator.”
- Sitting Politely for Petting: this test demonstrates the dog may be handled by a friendly stranger (evaluator) while at its handler’s side. The evaluator will pet the dog on the head and body, and walk around the dog. The dog should not act shy or “show resentment.”
- Appearance & Grooming: this test demonstrates that the dog will accept mild grooming and handling performed by an evaluator who will act as your vet or groomer might. The evaluator will visually inspect the dog for a clean, healthy appearance, brush the dog lightly, and then examine the dog’s ears and front paws.
- Out for a Walk: this test demonstrates whether the dog will walk politely while on a leash. The handler may put the dog on either side. Dog and handler are asked to make a left turn, a right turn, and an about turn. Unlike in formal obedience competitions, the dog is not required to Sit upon stopping, and is not expected to walk directly to the handler’s side, as in a formal heeling exercise.
- Walking Through a Crowd: this test demonstrates whether the dog can walk politely in pedestrian traffic. The dog should not hesitate or strain on the leash. The dog may show mild interest in the pedestrians but not be overly “exuberant, shy or resentful.”
- Sit and Down on Command/Staying in Place: this test demonstrates that the dog has been trained and will respond to the handler’s verbal instructions to Sit, Down, and Stay. The Stay exercise is done on a long lead (furnished by Capital) and the dog is asked to Stay while the handler walks 20 feet away. The dog may change positions during the brief stay but the dog must remain in place.
- Coming When Called: this test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by its handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn around and face the dog, and call the dog. The handler may use voice and body language to prompt the dog to come.
- Reaction to Another Dog: this test demonstrates whether the dog can behave politely around another dog. The handler and dog will walk toward another dog/handler team (CGC volunteer with friendly dog) from a distance of about 10 yards. Handlers will then stop a few feet away from one another, shake hands and exchange a few words. The testee dog should show only a mild interest in the friendly volunteer dog.
- Reactions to Distractions: this test demonstrates that the dog can be “confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations,” e.g. the sound of a dropped book, a passing jogger, a baby in a carriage, etc. The dog may show a natural curiosity and even be startled momentarily. The dog should not attempt to flee, chase, bark or show aggression.
- Supervised Separation: this test demonstrates that the dog can be left alone, away from its handler, without showing significant distress. The handler will give his/her dog’s leash to the evaluator and leave the dog’s field of vision for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in place but should maintain “good manners” while in the evaluator’s custody. The evaluator will observe the dog for behaviors like continuous barking, serious agitation, nervous pacing, etc. any of which may result in the dog not passing this test.
Your dog must wear a buckle or slip collar attached to a 4′–6′ leash of fabric or leather during the test. Your dog can also wear a non-restrictive harness to test on. Pinch collars, prong collars, Halti and Gentle Leaders head halters, etc. are not permitted.
Also, bring your dog’s grooming brush for use during the “Appearance & Grooming” test.
If you and your dog do not pass one or more of the 10 tests administered during the CGC exam you will receive a “does not pass” rating on your test sheet. Moreover, your dog may pass each of the individual CGC tests but still be denied the CGC certificate if the head evaluator(s) feels you or your dog do not present the overall characteristics of a “Canine Good Citizen” dog/handler team.
A dog may be disqualified from receiving the CGC certificate if at any time while in the testing facility it displays 1) disruptive behaviors (e.g. barking, lunging, pulling on leash, jumping up, etc.), or 2) excessive shyness.
A dog will be disqualified from receiving the CGC certificate if it 1) eliminates at any time during the test, and 2) displays any act of aggression toward people or other dogs. (The AKC “Evaluator’s Guide” defines an aggressive act as “any dog that growls or snaps at, bites, attacks, or attempts to attack another person or another dog…”)
Also, a handler’s actions may result in a dog’s disqualification, e.g. inhumane treatment, harsh corrections, having the dog on a tight leash throughout the test, etc.
As stated previously, Capital will have at least one obedience instructor/behavior counselor available to assist individuals who have questions or need training advice following the test. Remember, while it is the goal of the AKC to reward trainers whose dogs can meet the CGC standards, it is also Capital’s goal to help trainers take remedial action if their dogs’ skills are incomplete so that their dogs can pass the CGC test on a future occasion.
You will receive a CGC Certificate issued by the AKC. The AKC also maintains a record of all dogs receiving the CGC award.
Nothing to be ashamed about. In fact, many dog/handler teams repeat the CGC to receive a passing score on each of the 10 exercises. We encourage handlers to view the taking of their first CGC as a “run through” to see where they need to do more work in training.
Whether your dog passes the test or not, Capital will have an experienced dog trainer available for any training or behavior issues you wish to discuss. This individual will be qualified to help you with CGC exercises your dog did not pass.
Capital’s volunteers have been giving the CGC exam since 1994. All the volunteers participating in our CGC are members of Capital and train their own dogs at the Club. Many are class instructors. All have years of experience training dogs. We take our time when we give the test to ensure that you have a positive experience—pass or not.
Moreover, at Capital’s CGC event we will have an experienced dog trainer available to answer training or problem behavior questions you have about your dog. Capital’s members are pleased to have an opportunity to help you train your dog.
Capital’s clubhouse is conveniently located right off the Beltway in Silver Spring. The facility is fully enclosed and provides ample free parking.
Capital charges a $15 fee for each dog you register for the test.
Certainly. If you bring young children please remind them before entering the facility they must sit quietly and may not touch or pet any dog but their own If you bring children with you, please have an adult (other than the dog handler) with them at all times. Our volunteers cannot be responsible for watching your children.