AKC Canine Good Citizen Test- Why You Should Have Your Dog Certified


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Dog training is a crucial part of pet ownership. It ensures that your doggo has good demeanor and ready to face various situations. But before you sign your pooch to intermediate dog training, you should prioritize the AKC Canine Good Citizen test first.

The American Kennel Club offers the Canine Good Citizen (CGC). This is the standard in the canine world that even landlords, insurance companies, and sporting events recognize.

Here, we will discuss the highlights of the program and why you should have your dog certified.

What is the AKC Canine Good Citizen?

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The American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen is a program that started back in 1989. It aims to train dogs for good manners and certify them for exemplary behavior.

This program consists of two parts: training and 10-step testing. Aside from promoting good dog behavior, AKC also supports responsible pet ownership in this program. In fact, there are short seminars for the owners when it comes to grooming, feeding, and health of their dogs.

Other canine institutions as the foundation of other training programs, sports events, and performance events. This program is highly established that it’s considered as the quintessential training program for all dogs.

Also, other countries also used the AKC CGC as the basis to their own training programs. Some even consider it as a screening requirement for dogs applying for service or support dog programs.

Not familiar with the AKC CGC program? Here’s a quick look:

Which dogs can join the training/certification?

All dogs are allowed to join the AKC CGC. Dogs that are purebred, cross-breed, and those that are not in the official breed list of AKC are free to sign up to the event.

Aside from the breed, the owner should ensure that their dog is old enough to join the program.

The rule is that the pup should have received necessary immunization shots like rabies shots and so on.

When it comes to senior dogs, their owners can still sign them up for the program. There’s no age limit the CGC program but the owner should ensure that the pooch is in good shape.

However, if the CGC testing is held during a dog show, the show’s rules may apply with regard to the admission of the dogs.

Take note that if your dog was tested as a pup, it’s best to have them re-tested as an adult dog.

Why you should have your dog certified

If your dog has an AKC CGC certification, they will be perceived by landlords and establishment owners as a disciplined canine. This will prevent breed discrimination in terms of housing and ownership.

Another big aspect of the CGC is it will help you land a wider insurance coverage. In fact, some insurance companies will ask for a CGC certificate as a requirement.

If you’re planning to train your dog to be a service or therapy dog, the AKC CGC certificate is a must. This is the springboard to intermediate dog training and even protection dog training.

Most of all, having your dog certified by AKC spreads the awareness to other pet owners. It also promotes responsible ownership. Besides, the whole program is fun and it’s a good way to test your bond with your dog.

Benefits of AKC CGC certification

There is a long list of benefits when it comes to the AKC Canine Good Citizen test. First, it trains your dog to become disciplined. It will be easier for you to handle the pooch even in crowded places. Aside from this, there are more benefits to the program:

1.Better insurance coverage

Many insurance companies consider the AKC CGC as a requirement for their coverage. Since you can prove that your dog is at low risk of biting or violence, insurers will be less reluctant to grant coverage.

Also, your premiums will be much lower than uncertified dogs. If your dog used to have a biting history, a certification from AKC can help reverse the negative perception about your canine.

2.You become a responsible owner

Responsible dog owners are those who train their dog. This way, the canine won’t be a threat to the neighborhood or anyone they come in contact with.

Also, by getting your dog certified, you are also encouraging other dog owners in your area to do the same. It spreads the awareness of the program. With more dogs being trained, breed discrimination won’t be as prevalent as it used to be.

3. No accommodation discrimination

Many landlords deny pet owners accommodation just because they own a dog. Still, some of them would consider an AKC certification as a pass. With this, you can easily find an apartment, condo, or short-term accommodation even if you’re with your dog.

However, some dogs considered as “dangerous” under BSL (Breed Specific Legislation) might be an exception.

4. Sets goals for your dog

The AKC training will be the start of your dog’s journey to learning new things. It also pushes you to make a list of goals for your pet.

After the AKC CGC, there are more programs that you can explore. The American Kennel Club has more intermediate dog training programs that you can consider.

5. Bond with your dog

If you want to boost your bond with your dog, the AKC CGC training is a good way to do it. Here, you’re part of the training and testing.

This is a great way to establish yourself as the leader of the pack.

Planning to train your dog for CGC? Here’s a guide that you can follow courtesy of Leighton Oosthuisen, training director of Partners Dog Training School:

Requirements for the AKC CGC

Like what I mentioned earlier, your dog should be old enough to undergo the training. Aside from that, there are no special requirements for the training unless the organizers say so.

Basically, you would have to sign the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge. The pledge focuses on being responsible for your dog’s health. It includes the following point:

*The dogs’ safety, veterinary care, nutrition, grooming, and exercise

*Leashing and controlling the dog from running away or violating other people’s rights

*Giving the dog necessary identification like tags, chips, collar, etc.

*Supervision of the dog when around children

*Preventing the dog from being a nuisance to others

*Providing the dog with care, attention, and good quality of life

*Proper disposal of the dog’s waste in outdoor and indoor settings

*Continuous commitment to taking care of the dog

As you see, the AKC is strictly focused on promoting responsible dog ownership. Don’t take this pledge for granted. Your negligence may land your doggo to the vet or shelter. Soon enough, you will be reported to the American Kennel Club.

Test items your dog should pass

By now you’re probably wondering what type of tests your dog should pass. The AKC Canine Good Citizen has a 10-step test that includes the items we discussed below. Take note that your dog should pass everything. If the dog fails one item, it would have to be re-tested.

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Test Item 1. Meeting and accepting a friendly stranger

This mimics day-to-day situations where the handler meets new people. In this item, you will be approached by a friendly stranger (the evaluator) while the dog is leashed by your side. You and the stranger will greet, talk, and shake hands while ignoring the dog.

Your pooch shouldn’t show any sign of aggression or shyness to ace this first test. Anyway, it’s just a first step toward intermediate dog training.

Test Item 2. Letting someone pet them

Imagine, you’re walking on a dog park and someone asks if s/he can pet your dog. This test aims to see if your dog can accept friendly petting by a stranger. You can talk to your dog while the stranger pets the pooch.

Again, your doggo shouldn’t become shy or show signs of resentment.

Test Item 3. Proper grooming and appearance

In this item, you are the one being tested. The evaluator will check if your dog is properly groomed and if it’s in good health.

You should also bring a brush or comb that the evaluator will use to check the coat of the pooch. Anyway, it’s not required for your dog to stay in a specific position.

Test Item 4. Walking on a lead

This is a test for both you and your dog. The pooch should walk on a loose leash while showing that you are in full control. A plotted course will be in the place where you and your dog will walk. This includes at least one stop, one right turn, and one left turn.

You’re free to use verbal commands, praises, and talk to your dog while walking. Also, you’re free to sit with your dog during the stops. During this test, your dog should exhibit focus and obedience.

Test Item 5. Walking in a crowd

This test will simulate an actual crowd when walking your dog outside. The evaluator will be accompanied by at least three people where you and the dog will walk along.

It’s totally fine for your dog to show interest to strangers like sniffing or random staring. However, the dog shouldn’t bark incessantly or jump into the crowd.

Test Item 6. Sit and stay in command

These are basic cues that will show the level of your dog’s obedience. You will command your dog to sit and the pooch should stay until you ask it to move.

Another test included in this item is checking if the dog can respond to commands and show discipline. The leashed dog will be left on the other end of a 20-feet line while the handler walks away. Once reaching the end of the line, the handler returns while keeping the dog on its original position.

Test Item 7. Responding to the handler

In this test, the handler will walk 10 feet away from the dog. The pooch should stay in the original position. The handler will then call the dog’s name or encourage the doggo to come to him or her.

The canine should respond right away. Also, the handler has the choice not to instruct the dog and just walk away. In this case, the dog shouldn’t run after the handler. This skill is also necessary if you’re planning to proceed with protection dog training after CGC.

Test Item 8. Testing the dog’s reaction to another dog

At this part, the program will test your dog’s reaction when meeting other canines. Here, there would be another handler and a leashed dog. From a 20-feet distance, you and the other pair will approach each other.

The pooches shouldn’t show any resentment or shyness while you and the other handler exchange pleasantries. It’s totally fine for the dogs to exhibit minor interest to each other like sniffing. Still, no dog should bark, jump on each other, or move aggressively.

Test Item 9. Dealing with distractions

Your dog’s focus will be put to the test. Distractions like dropping a chair, rolling a dolly past the dog, and a jogger will be exposed to the pooch. The evaluator will choose two distractions randomly.

It’s okay for the dog to be mildly startled or to show little interest in the passing distraction. However, the doggo shouldn’t bark, try to follow the distraction, or panic.

Test Item 10. Separation from the handler

For the last test item, you will hand your dog to another person as part of the supervised separation process. The evaluator will ask if you want him to handle your dog. After that, you will hand the leash to him or her.

You will walk away for three minutes. Your pooch should stay calm and in control while you’re out of sight. There should be no whining, pacing, barking, and agitation.

Where to find an AKC testing center

The American Kennel Club hosts CGC programs on dog shows all year round. You can also ask the local AKC dog club in your area about it. In the AKC website, you can check the list of accredited clubs that offer the CGC program. You can also check the calendar to find a date where they offer CGC. You can also explore their intermediate dog training programs.

When it comes to finding evaluators, make sure that they are duly recognized by AKC. As much as you’re rushing for intermediate dog training, you should be careful who administers the testing.