Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why a Canine Good Citizen?

I know my dogs look intimidating to some people. That's part of what comes along with the breeds that I choose to share my life with, I totally get it. I might not agree with it :), but I can understand it. It's not fair, but nothing in life is ever fair. I think that's the first life lesson everyone learns!!

So early on I decided that I would do everything I could to at least portray my dogs in a positive light in public. I decided the first would be to obtain a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification with each of them. And all of my dogs have them (not counting Rookie because he was literally just added), except for Vito. Oh, that poor little dude - he is just not quite confident enough to pass. Part of the process of bonding with your dog is knowing what you can expect of their behavior in any given environment. Well, Vito's behavior tells me that he would rather just disappear and teleport back home so I don't force the issue.

The Test

The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Certification was established in 1989 by the American Kennel Club (AKC) to promote responsible dog ownership and to encourage the training of well-mannered dogs. It's one way to evaluate you and your dog's ability to communicate and show good behavior both at home and in public. There are ten objectives and all ten must be completed satisfactorily to pass.
  1. Accepting a friendly stranger
  2. Sitting politely for petting
  3. Allowing basic grooming procedures
  4. Walking on a loose leash
  5. Walking through a crowd
  6. Sitting and laying down on command and staying in place
  7. Coming when called
  8. Reacting appropriately to another dog
  9. Reacting appropriately to distractions
  10. Calming enduring supervised separation from the owner
Dogs who pass receive a CGC certificate and an AKC title (if your dog is registered with any of the AKC registries). Even if you decide you don't want to take the test, just working on the ten items is a winning formula for you and your dog. You deepen your relationship with your dog, learn about dog behavior (especially your dog's behavior!), and learn about yourself all at the same time.

Bourbon's certificate from 2008. He had to take the test
4 times to pass :)

Where to Start?

I would recommend finding an obedience class in your area that focuses on positive reinforcement methods. Ask if you can come and watch a few classes before you sign up. Talk with the instructors about your goals and ask them if their dogs have their CGC certifications. Do your own research about the Canine Good Citizen evaluation so that you get the big picture of what this means.

Starting next week, I'll also go through each of the ten parts of the test in individual blog posts, touching on things I've learned that can be useful in training for, and passing, each section. If you have questions along the way, feel free to ask away :). If you think it might be too much to take on? Stick around, I'll show you that it's not as hard as you may think it is!

Feel free to share your CGC stories as well in the comments below! Together we can all learn from each other and have fun with our dogs :).

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