AKC’s Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) Program

What is it?

Started in 1989, CGC is a certification program that is designed to reward dogs who have good
manners at home and in the community. The Canine Good Citizen Program is a two-part program
that stresses responsible pet ownership for owners and basic good manners for dogs. All dogs who
pass the 10-step CGC test may receive a certificate from the American Kennel Club.

Heartland offers their own “CGC” testing in addition to having our three AKC certified instructors.
You may choose to do either or both!

Training/Testing: CGC Test Items

Before taking the Canine Good Citizen test, owners will sign the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge.
We believe that responsible dog ownership is a key part of the CGC concept and by signing the
pledge, owners agree to take care of their dog's health needs, safety, exercise, training and quality
of life. Owners also agree to show responsibility by doing things such as cleaning up after their dogs
in public places and never letting dogs infringe on the rights of others.

After signing the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge, owners and their dogs are ready to take the CGC
Test. Items on the Canine Good Citizen Test include:

Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger

This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the
handler in a natural, everyday situation. The evaluator walks up to the dog and handler and greets
the handler in a friendly manner, ignoring the dog. The evaluator and handler shake hands and
exchange pleasantries. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness, and must not break
position or try to go to the evaluator.

Test 2: Sitting politely for petting

This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its
handler. With the dog sitting at the handler's side, to begin the exercise, the evaluator pets the dog
on the head and body. The handler may talk to his or her dog throughout the exercise. The dog may
stand in place as it is petted. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.

Test 3: Appearance and grooming

This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will
permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so. It also
demonstrates the owner's care, concern and sense of responsibility. The evaluator inspects the dog
to determine if it is clean and groomed. The dog must appear to be in healthy condition (i.e., proper
weight, clean, healthy and alert). The handler should supply the comb or brush commonly used on
the dog. The evaluator then softly combs or brushes the dog, and in a natural manner, lightly
examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. It is not necessary for the dog to hold a
specific position during the examination, and the handler may talk to the dog, praise it and give
encouragement throughout.

Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)

This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog may be on either side of the
handler. The dog's position should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is
responding to the handler's movements and changes of direction. The dog need not be perfectly
aligned with the handler and need not sit when the handler stops. The evaluator may use a pre-
plotted course or may direct the handler/dog team by issuing instructions or commands. In either
case, there should be a right turn, left turn, and an about turn with at least one stop in between and
another at the end. The handler may talk to the dog along the way, praise the dog, or give
commands in a normal tone of voice. The handler may sit the dog at the halts if desired.

Test 5: Walking through a crowd

This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control
in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three).
The dog may show some interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with the handler,
without evidence of over-exuberance, shyness or resentment. The handler may talk to the dog and
encourage or praise the dog throughout the test. The dog should not jump on people in the crowd or
strain on the leash.

Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place

This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler's commands to sit and
down and will remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the
handler prefers). The dog must do sit AND down on command, then the owner chooses the position
for leaving the dog in the stay. Prior to this test, the dog's leash is replaced with a line 20 feet long.
The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to get the dog
to sit and then down. The evaluator must determine if the dog has responded to the handler's
commands. The handler may not force the dog into position but may touch the dog to offer gentle
guidance. When instructed by the evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward the
length of the line, turns and returns to the dog at a natural pace. The dog must remain in the place in
which it was left (it may change position) until the evaluator instructs the handler to release the dog.
The dog may be released from the front or the side.

Test 7: Coming when called

This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10
feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog. The handler may use encouragement to get
the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell dogs to "stay" or "wait" or they may simply walk away,
giving no instructions to the dog.

Test 8: Reaction to another dog

This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their
dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange
pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest
in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.

Test 9: Reaction to distraction

This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting
situations. The evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include
dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or
dropping a crutch or cane. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity and/or may appear
slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark. The handler
may talk to the dog and encourage or praise it throughout the exercise.

Test 10: Supervised separation

This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain
training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, "Would you like me to
watch your dog?" and then take hold of the dog's leash. The owner will go out of sight for three
minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace
unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness. Evaluators may talk to
the dog but should not engage in excessive talking, petting, or management attempts (e.g, "there,
there, it's alright").


All tests must be performed on leash. For collars, dogs should wear well-fitting buckle or slip collars
made of leather, fabric, or chain. Special training collars such as pinch collars, head halters, and
electronic collars are not permitted in the CGC test.

As of November 4, 2010, body harnesses may be used in the CGC test. The evaluator should check
to make sure the harness is not of a type that completely restricts the dog's movement such that it
could not pull or jump up if it tried.

We recognize that special training collars such as head collars and no-jump harnesses may be very
useful tools for beginning dog trainers, however, we feel that dogs are ready to take the CGC test at
the point at which they are transitioned to equipment that allows the evaluator to see that the dog has
been trained.

The evaluator supplies a 20-foot lead for the test. The owner/handler should bring the dog's brush or
comb to the test.


Owners/handlers may use praise and encouragement throughout the test. The owner may pet the
dog between exercises. Food and treats are not permitted during testing, nor is the use of toys,
squeaky toys, etc. to get the dog to do something. We recognize that food and toys may provide
valuable reinforcement or encouragement during the training process but these items should not be
used during the test.

Failures – Dismissals

Any dog that eliminates during testing must be marked failed. The only exception to this rule is that
elimination is allowable in test Item 10, but only when test Item 10 is held outdoors.

Any dog that growls, snaps, bites, attacks, or attempts to attack a person or another dog is not a
good citizen and must be dismissed from the test.

Courtesy of the American Kennel Club "AKC’s Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) Program"
Good Citizen
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