What is CGC and Why does it matter?

What is CGC and Why does it matter?

In the dog world you might hear that a trainer is a CGC evaluator, that a dog passed their CGC test, and you may even see a dog with a CGC collar and/or leash, but what does this mean?

CGC is short for Canine Good Citizen and it is a test, administered by certified CGC evaluators, which in essence will show that the tested dog is well-mannered and well-trained. All of the points that are tested for have real world reasons why your dog should be able to do them. The test is from the AKC but does not only apply to AKC registered dogs. This test is used as a one time thing to “prove” that your dog is well-behaved, or it could be a stepping stone for any number of activities in the future. Passing the CGC test could be the first step in a future of Agility competition, Fly-ball, Therapy work, or competitive Obedience just to name a few.

One thing I love about CGC is that it give a “goal” to training some very important and basic commands. This helps many a lax owner by giving them something to aim for.

The CGC is comprised of 10 simple tasks.

  1. Greeting a friendly stranger
  2. Sitting politely for petting
  3. “Appearance and Grooming”
  4. Walking on a loose leash
  5. Walking through a crowd
  6. Sit, Down, Stay
  7. Come on Command
  8. Reaction to another Dog
  9. Reaction to Distraction
  10. Supervised Separation

Now many of these are self explanatory, but for those that might not be (#s 3, 8, 9, and 10) be I’ll explain a little.

Appearance and Grooming: This does not mean that they will judge your dog for confirmation as would happen in a dog show, nor does this mean your dog will be judged on their appearance, though they should be clean and healthy. This means that your dog will accept someone grooming them and examining them. This will help you in the real world because your dog will then openly accept being groomed, important for all breeds regardless of coat, and will also accept inspections which veterinarians may have to do. You will bring a brush and comb which the examiner will use to lightly brush the dogs coat. Then they will examine the ears, lift paws, and do a very light examination of the dog where they are expected to stand calmly without hesitation or fear.

Reaction to another dog: By reaction it is meant as polite reaction. Your dog should show confidence without aggression and calmly greet the other. Jumping, growling, snapping, and other reactions are not allowed.

Reaction to Distraction: This time by reaction they mean the dog should not react. This is another test to show that your dog is confidant and more so, that in fearful or distracting situations your dog trusts you enough to not show fear, anxiety, or aggression. During this portion of the test the examiner has a number of sound and visual distractions to choose from and will use two of them, usually one sound and one visual, to test your dogs reaction.

Both of the above tests are important because you do not control the world around you and you need to be able to know that your dog will react, or not react, appropriately.

Supervised Separation: Here you will leave your dog with the examiner or someone else for the test, for about 2 minutes. During this time your dog should display calm confidence. Your dog shouldn’t bark, whine, or pace excessively. They also shouldn’t show nervousness or agitation. This will allow you to confidently be able to leave your dog with friends, family, or at a boarder.

I highly recommend training with a “1st end goal” of passing the CGC.

note: All of the parts of the CGC program are given in detail on the AKC Canine Good Citizen Participant’s Handbook and in various places on the AKC site.


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