Laddie's World

   Well, I did it. I passed my CGC test. Wasn't too hard really. Of course Laddie-Boy says I had it easy. He says that when he took the test over seven years ago, it was a lot harder because the testers expected a whole lot more better behavior then they have to look for today. He said it was almost like being in a Novice Obedience Trial.
   He's so dramatic.
   It's not like I got away with anything since we were both trained by our Mom and we both agree that her standards as a registered CGC Evaluator can be a little high. Still, I guess its just an older dog thing.
   What? You want to know what the CGC Test is?
   Okay. I'll share with you.
   The CGC, or Canine Good Citizen Test, is a 10 portion test designed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) to determine and award that those dogs tested have the training and demeanor to be reliable, well-behaved members of their families and communities. It is an award that any dog, purebred or mixed breed, can achieve. It doesn't matter if the dog is from the most notable breeder in the world or was a rescued shelter dog of UN-determinate heritage. Any dog can take the test.
   Even though one of the goals of the AKC in offering the CGC Test is to help raise awareness in responsible dog ownership and good training, you don't need to enroll your dog in any special classes (or any classes at all if you work hard with your dog anyway) although some owners may decide to join obedience classes just to get themselves (and maybe their dog!) into testing shape. You don't have to be a member of any clubs or have any other titles or experience. You just need a nice, well behaved dog.
   Each of the ten portions of the test are examples of basic good manners and simple training. I'll outline and describe each portion and what may and may not be allowed so you can have a clear idea of what to expect and what to work on.

   First a few rules.

- All the tests are done with your dog on a leash.
- Your dog is allowed to wear a well-fitting buckle or slip (choke) collar made of leather, fabric, or chain. Training collars such as pinch collars, head halters, etc. are not allowed in the CGC test. AKC feels that dogs are ready to take the CGC test at the point at which they are transitioned to regular collars.
- You will need to bring to the test; written proof of your dog's current rabies vaccination, his or her township dog license and the brush or comb you usually use on your dog.

- This isn't an obedience trial my friends. You can use praise and encourage throughout the test and you are allowed to pet your dog between exercises.
- However, food and treats are not allowed during testing and you cannot use toys, squeaky toys, etc. to get your dog to do something.

Failures - Dismissals
- Any dog that relieves itself during testing must be marked failed. The only exception to this rule is that elimination is allowable in test Item 10, 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 (before, during or after the test) is not a good citizen and must be dismissed from the test.

Now for the test.
A quick note: Whenever it says the "evaluator" should do something, sometimes an assistant will actually do the actions necessary while the evaluator watches. This occurs most often when the dog is tested by someone that the dog and handler trained under or if (in the interest of time) it is a large scale testing event.

1: Accepting a friendly stranger
- This test demonstrates that your dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to you in a natural, everyday situation. The evaluator walks up to the you and your dog and greets you in a friendly manner, ignoring the dog. You and the evaluator shake hands and exchange pleasantries. Your dog must not show any sign of resentment or shyness, and must not break position or try to go to the evaluator.

2: Sitting politely for petting
- This test demonstrates that your dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with you. With the dog sitting at the your side to begin the exercise, the evaluator approaches and after asking permission pets your dog on the head and body. You can talk to your dog throughout the exercise and your dog can stand in place as it is petted. Your dog must not show shyness or resentment.

3: Appearance and grooming
- This test demonstrates that your 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 your care, concern and sense of responsibility. The evaluator inspects your dog to determine if it is clean and groomed. Your dog must appear to be in healthy condition (i.e., proper weight, clean, healthy and alert). You will need to supply the comb or brush you commonly use on the dog. The evaluator then softly combs or brushes your dog, and in a natural manner, lightly examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot.
It is not necessary for your dog to hold a specific position during the examination, and the you may talk to the dog, praise it and give encouragement throughout. Pacing or attempting to obviously maneuver away from the tester's touches will be marked as a "Failed'

4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
- This test demonstrates that you are in control of your dog. The dog can be on either side of you but it's position should leave no doubt that it is attentive to you and is responding to your movements and changes of direction. The dog doesn't need to be perfectly aligned with you and does not have to sit when you stop.
The evaluator may use a pre-plotted course or may direct you and your dog by issuing instructions or commands. There should be a right turn, left turn, and an about turn with at least one stop in between and another at the end. You can talk to your dog along the way, praise it, or give commands in a normal tone of voice. You can also ask your dog to sit at the stops if you would like.

5: Walking through a crowd
- This test demonstrates that your dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under your control in public places. You and your dog must walk around and pass close to several people (at least three). Your dog is allowed to show some interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with you, without evidence of over-exuberance, shyness or resentment. You can talk to your dog and encourage or praise him or her throughout the test. Your dog should not jump on the people in the crowd or strain (in any direction!) on the leash.

6: Sit and down on command - staying in place
- This test demonstrates that your dog has training, will respond to your commands to sit and down and will stay in the place you commanded (sit or down position, whichever you prefer).
Prior to this test, your dog's leash is replaced with a 20 feet long line. You can take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to get your dog to sit and then down. The evaluator must determine if your dog has responded to your commands. You can not force your dog into position but you can touch your dog to offer gentle guidance.
When instructed by the evaluator, you must tell your dog to stay and walk forward the length of the line, turn and then come back to your dog at a natural pace. Your dog must remain in the place in which it was left (it can change position) until the evaluator instructs you to release your dog. Your dog can be released from the front or the side (heel position).

7: Coming when called
- This test demonstrates that your dog will come to you when called. You walk 10 feet from your dog, turn to face your dog, and call your dog. You can use encouragement to get your dog to come. You can also choose to tell your dog to "stay" or "wait" or you can simply walk away, giving no instructions to your dog.
(Note: This test replaced an old version test in which the dog's ability to settle quickly after playing was evaluated.)

8: Reaction to another dog
- This test demonstrates that your dog can behave politely around other dogs. You, another handler and your dogs approach each other from a distance of 20 to 30 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and then 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. (A good "leave it" command can be invaluable for this exercise!)

9: Reaction to distraction
- This test demonstrates that your dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations. The evaluator will select and present two distractions. Some examples of distractions commonly used 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.
Your dog can express natural interest and curiosity and/or may appear slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark. As usual, you can talk to the dog and encourage or praise it throughout the exercise.

10: Supervised separation
- This test demonstrates that your 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. You then, will go out of sight for three minutes. (The test begins when you are out of sight.) 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.

   Well, that's the long and short of it. If your dog passes all ten parts of the test it will be kept on record with the American Kennel Club and you can receive a nice certificate.
   So, now you're probably asking, "What is the point of all of this?"
   First and foremost, In a court of law it could well mean a second chance for your dog if something off the wall should happen and his or her reliability is questioned. There are many dog parks that use the CGC award as a pass for admittance and there are still public places across the US that will allow dogs entry if they have their CGC. If you wanted to get into Therapy work with your dog there are many Therapy groups that use the CGC award as a prerequisite to taking their tests.
   Yes there are some benefits to taking and passing the CGC Test but, by far, the best benefit is knowing you have a dog and a relationship that you can be proud of.

   If you would like more information on the AKC's CGC Award or would like to locate a registered Evaluator near you, visit the American Kennel Club's official CGC pages at: