Saturday, July 10, 2010

AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Program

Carson and Joan, demonstrating how to react to another dog with the assistance of Charlie "G", and our own Nina "Beans"!

What are the judges looking for?

The test is broken down to ten parts, and is basically meant to show how well they behave on leash in a typical social environment. Your dog needs to allow a friendly stranger to approach and speak to you in an everyday situation. They need to allow that stranger to pet them, while remaining calm, and polite; no jumping or pawing. Then, the dog needs to allow that stranger to brush, examine their teeth, paws, ears..etc.

The fourth skill you'll need to demonstrate a short controlled walk on a loose leash. Next, the handler and dog must show that they can pass three or more people, a simulated pedestrian and public situation, in a controlled manner.

Responding well to commands is required as well. Sit, Down, and then Staying in place. Followed by coming when called, the proctors will ask you to drop the leash, take ten steps from your "pup" while in the Stay; they will have you pause, and now use the Come command. That sets you guys up for the next segment; reaction to another dog.

Now, you're asked to demonstrate that you can approach other handlers and their dogs in a polite manner, allowing you to greet and then shake hands with the other handler(s). If you can do all of that, you only need to work on two more skills.

If you regularly work with your dog in public, you're all to familiar with dealing with distractions; the slamming of a car door, kids screaming, a bird or squirrel in the dogs line of vision...etc. The proctors will most likely drop something or create a loud sound, and then evaluate your dogs reaction, and your control. Almost done!

The last requirement can be the most difficult. While we want to build a strong bond with our dog, we need to encourage them to be secure with others too. You'll approach a stranger with your dog once more, but this time you need to ask that person: "will you watch my dog?" Hand over the leash and get out of sight for three minutes. The proctors will look for them to be comfortable and calm: no excessive whining or tugging on leash...this can be tough, but you can do it!

Practice, patience, and consistency are key. Even if you have no plan to get involved with volunteer, or therapy work, it's a good idea to work with your dog on these skills. Everyone knows their dogs need physical exercise, in order to keep healthy; it's equally important to exercise, and stimulate your pups mind. A working dog is a happy dog; they need to know they're earning their keep.

I'm certain you can find a qualified local trainer that will help you to communicate your and the public requirements of them. I've been fortunate to meet tons of great, dedicated, and caring positive dog trainers in person and can too. There's an incredible trend of responsible dog owners, handlers, and trainers today. Training should be fun, and above all positive; dogs, like us, learn quickly when they're having fun. Your good dog, should, and can be great!

Our star students, Joan and Carson, are coming by for a play-date today! They're two of three supervised visits away from completing the pre-requisites required by "Caring Canines." At that point the only thing left to make them "official" is the convented AKC CGC award.

We're doing one more mock-up of the CGC test here on the 25th, then they're going for it on the 29th. As Joan reminded me, I said "Carson will do great" in these pre-rec's; "the best" of the current group moving through that program. I'm very proud to have been a part of this teams success. Get'em, calmly, guys!


  1. Jesse,
    I wish you lived in Pa...cuz my dog Izzy can't most of that, maybe one part>>>lol Would love to have trained to be more social with other dogs...