Your dog might know a few tricks and manners, but could your furry friend pass a test? The American Kennel Club (AKC) created the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program to help evaluate trainable dog manners and guide ownership responsibility. The AKC good citizen test can be a fun way to learn some new training skills and earn an official certificate from the AKC.
The CGC program was created in 1989 and looks at 10 skill areas. The test takes about 10 minutes and the dog must wear a leash while participating in the test. Dogs of any age can take the CGC test, but the AKC has a separate test for puppies (AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy). Purebred and mixed breeds are welcome to take the AKC good citizen test. If your dog passes the test, you may order an official CGC certificate from the AKC. A dog will be dismissed from the test if it displays any undesirable behavior (growls, bites, attacks) toward another person or dog.
Before taking the AKC good citizen test, you might want to consider signing up for classes to help both you and your dog be successful with training. Local AKC clubs and many Petco locations offer group classes to help prepare your dog from the test. Of course, owners are also welcome to train their dog on their own.
Here’s a closer look at 10 skill areas that make up the CGC evaluation and what each test category means for you and your dog.
- Accepting a friendly stranger
- Sitting politely for petting
- Appearance and grooming
- Walking on a loose leash
- Walking through a crowd
- Sit and down on command and staying in place
- Coming when called
- Reaction to another dog
- Reacting (or not reacting) to a distraction
- Supervised separation (handler leaves for 3 mins)
#1 Accepting a friendly stranger
This part of the test evaluates how a dog reacts what a stranger approaches the handler. The evaluator greets and speaks with the handler, but ignores the dog.
#2 Sitting politely for petting
Much like the description of this skill implies, the dog is tested to see their reaction to a friendly stranger touching it while sitting by the handler. The Evaluator approaches and asks, “May I pet your dog?” before petting the dog.
#3 Appearance and grooming
For this part of the test, the Evaluator will brush and lightly examine the dog’s ears and feet. This part of the test also takes a look at how the owner has been caring for the dog. The weight, cleanliness, and appearance of health are taken into consideration.
#4 Walking on a loose leash
During this test, the handler shows control of the dog while taking a walk. The handler can talk and give praise during the walk but must follow the course given by the Evaluator.
#5 Walking through a crowd
How well does your furry companion navigate public places with other people? This part of the test looks at if the dog can be under control while moving around and passing at least three people.
#6 Sit and down on command and staying in place
For this tested skill, the dog will need to respond to the handler’s commands to sit and down. The dog will also be tested to stay in a sit or down position while the handler walks away.
#7 Coming when called
As the name of the skill implies, this section of the test demonstates if the dog is able to come to the handler when called from 10 feet away.
#8 Reacting to another dog
This skill will test how politely your dog behaves around other dogs. Two dogs and their handlers will greet one another to look at the level of interest your dog displays.
#9 Reaction to distraction
During this part of the test, the evaluator will look at how your dog reacts to two distractions. A distraction could be rolling a crate past the dog, a jogging running nearby, or dropping an object.
#10 Supervised separation
This exercise will look at how well a dog behaves when left with another person. The handler will give the leash to the evaluator and leave sight for three minutes.
Using the 10 skill categories from the AKC Good Citizen Test as a guide, you and your dog can start enjoying the benefits of building a strong training relationship. If the AKC good citizen test sounds like something you and your furry friend would enjoy, the AKC has posted more resources and specific details about the evaluation.
If setting up a DIY dog agility course is something you and your furry friend would enjoy for training, we have a separate guide to help you step by step to build your own DIY dog agility course with minimal costs. Also, browse our section on training techniques and guides for more training methods.