You may have heard of the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizenship Program.
For some, it’s a first step toward becoming a therapy dog at hospitals, schools and nursing homes. For others, it’s a basic grounding for competitive activities such as agility. For still others, it’s a way to obtain homeowners’ insurance for homes that contain breeds that insurance companies consider to be high risks.
But for thousands, it’s just a great way to assure that our dogs are obedient, friendly and well behaved in society. Training for the exam is an excellent form of quality time with your dog. And taking the exam can be an exciting time of great pride for both of you.
The American Kennel Club (akc.org) will give you information on when and how to take the exam, and how to find a training class to prepare for it. Many dog clubs offer CGC exams during their annual meetings and shows. 4-H clubs offer children and adults the chance to train for the exam and then take the exam. So do many dog training schools (PetSmart’s training program offers this in many stores).
It’s advisable to take the training class to prepare for the exam, but you don’t have to. So how do you know if you need the training class? What will be asked of your dog during the exam? AKC doesn’t publish the 10 requirements, but I found them at DogChannel.com. Here they are:
- Meeting friendly new people: Your dog will be expected to sit or stand calmly while you stop and speak to a stranger.
- A pat on the head: Your dog must sit or stand while a stranger pets it.
- A trip to the veterinarian/groomer: Your dog must permit a stranger to brush it and examine its paws and ears.
- A walk in the park: Your dog will be asked to walk with you on a loose leash, including turning left, right and around and coming to a stop.
- A walk in a crowd: Your dog must show it is at ease while you walk it in a crowd.
- Staying put: Your dog must perform a sit and/or down and then remain in place while you walk away from it.
- Answering a call: Your dog must come when you command.
- Dog to dog: When meeting another dog, your dog must show only casual interest.
- Accepting the unexpected. Your dog must not panic when confronted by common distractions, such as a loud noise or a passing jogger.
- Dog-sitters welcome: Your dog should behave when a friendly stranger takes its leash and you disappear for three minutes.
It’s fun to try these 10 criteria to see how many your dog could pass today. If you decided to get your dog’s Canine Good Citizen certification, you’ll be able to say, “My dog’s a good dog, and I have the papers to prove it!”
– Lisa Woody