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The AKC Canine Good Citizen Program

The Canine Good Citizen Program was started in 1989 by the American Kennel Club as a way to reward dogs for exhibiting responsible behavior. The Canine Good Citizen Test (CGC) is given on a pass/no pass grade and is the determining factor in whether a dog is CGC certified or not. Although most people prefer to take the test after completing some formal obedience training, it is not required.

The CGC test consists of 10 items and the dog is marked on how he or she completes each one. The dog must pass all 10 items in order to pass the test. So if the dog passes 9 items, but fails 1, the dog may immediately retest the failed item and still pass the test.

A list of the behaviors expected of each dog is as follows:

1. Accept a friendly stranger 
2. Sit politely for petting
3. Welcome grooming and an examination
4. Walk on a loose leash
5. Walk through a crowd
6. Sit, down, and stay at 20 feet
7. Come when called from 10 feet
8. Not react to a neutral dog walking and sitting nearby
9. Not react to noise and/or visual distraction
10. Complete a supervised separation for 3 minutes

No toys or treats are allowed during the test, nor is the use of gentle leaders or prong collars allowed; the dog must behave appropriately during each test item. That means no lunging or reacting to the neutral dog, no crying during the separation, and no jumping on people. Dogs are immediately dismissed from the test for growling, snapping, or showing any other sign of reactive behavior toward a person or dog. Before taking the test, dog owners must sign the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge, and after passing the test the dog receives a certificate acknowledging its status as a good citizen.

As pit bull owners, we know the burden is upon us to go above and beyond what a typical dog owner would do to prove that our dog is well-behaved. We must ensure that our dogs are not just “Good Citizens”, but great citizens. Although the CGC certification will not necessarily change the public opinion of pit bulls, it is another step in the right direction for those of us who love them. I recently took this test with my dog, Henry, who is an Angel City Pit Bulls alumnus. Tune in to our Foster Friday Blog this week to read how he performed…

Director of Education
Foster Coordinator