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Best Paw Forward – Canine Good Citizenship Training

Written by: Renee Moen
| Published on May 27, 2015


Canines are expected to have decent manners when they go out in public. Most dogs go through basic obedience training learning the most rudimentary commands sit, down, stay. Of those dogs, some may go on to advanced obedience training. Advanced training is basic commands with distance and focus. The purpose of advanced obedience is to have a well behaved dog both on and off leash with a myriad of distractions present. A select few will go on to the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) training. To qualify for a CGC program a dog must show exemplary basic and advanced obedience skills, as well as the ability and the willingness to learn.

What is CGC Training?

Established in 1989 through the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Canine good Citizen training program was designed to promote accountability among dog owners, encouraging them to raise well mannered dogs. There are ten phases of the test to train for. Stranger acceptance, sitting quietly to be pet, calm when separated from owner, acceptance of other dogs in the vicinity just to name a few.

Testing for CGC

The test is conducted by a certified trainer through the AKC. If the dog passes, there is a certification process and the dog will be known by their name with CGC as their title. (Petunia CGC) There are classes available through the AKC around the country to teach the CGC curriculum. Most certified trainers can also walk an owner/dog team through the program. Testing is done by appointment at a designated site with an AKC accredited trainer.

Do service dogs really need this?

Most service dog agencies require a CGC standing before the specialized training begins. To have the Canine Good Citizen seal of approval shows the dog has impeccable manners, is able to be trained and may focus with distractions. Not all agencies require this and prefer to do their own behavioral training.

What dogs are good candidates for the CGC? 

The Canine Good Citizen title is open for any breed at any age. To qualify for the CGC training a dog must know basic manners, be able to do everything that is asked without hesitation. The dog must display a willingness to learn and a desire to please their human. The human must have a good report with their dog and the motivation to work on the material. It takes work and dedication. If one or both participants aren’t willing to put in the effort, they should be content with basic obedience.

For more insight, resource information and class/testing sites click HERE.

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