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Is your dog a Canine Good Citizen? Here’s what it takes.

Is your dog a Canine Good Citizen? Here’s what it takes.


Is your dog a Canine Good Citizen™? The AKC developed the Canine Good Citizen™ (CGC) program in 1989 as a way for owners and their dogs to show their confidence, good manners, and training. Not only does CGC training create long-lasting trust between you and your pup, but it also ensures you'll be good neighbors and friends to everyone around you. There are 10 ten basic skills that owners and dogs are tested on, and if you pass the test, your dog will forever be known as a Canine Good Citizen™.


Is my puppy Toke a Canine Good Citizen™? That's a big NOPE, but I don't yet expect him to be the model citizen at 10.5 months and still working off baby boy brains. If you have followed my past articles in Pet Gazette, you may wonder why I would even try this with my little delinquent. Since I compete with my dogs and eventually title them in obedience, I don't often try for CGC designations but the beginner class that I signed Toke up for offered the test at the end of the eight weeks so we gave it a try. It went about how I thought it would, and that's not saying much.


Here are the skills and tests, and how Toke fared in each of them: The first is Accepting a Friendly Stranger. Oh, Toke "accepted" them all right. He jumped up to give them a hug and a wet willy in the ear. Next is Sitting Politely for Petting. He did pass this test. He started to stand up, but I quietly told him to sit, then stay, and he did so like the trained boy he will eventually be. Test number three is Appearance and Grooming. Toke did pass this test. Sort of. Well, maybe not. He was well behaved except for mouthing the hands that touched his paws. Yeah, I think maybe that wasn't a good thing. We then went "Out for a Walk (walking on a loose lead). This one he did well, but I will admit to having him heel as he will in competition instead of strolling around like the spirit of the test has in mind. Next was Walking Through a Crowd. Everyone in the class walked around with their dogs, and Toke wanted to greet all of them enthusiastically. Ugh, that's a fail. Sit and Down on Command and Staying in Place was an easy pass as was Coming when Called. Test 8 is Reaction to Another Dog. Toke was supposed to sit quietly at my side. Instead, he excitedly lunged towards the other dog, asking her to play (Penny said no and listened to HER handler – baby boy brains, I swear!). Supervised Separation is the last test. This is when you hand your dog off to someone, and you leave the room for 3 minutes. The dog cannot show distress at their owner being gone. Toke passed this test, sitting patiently for me to return and wagging his tail happily at the testing assistant.


There is one other test, my favorite of the night: Reaction to Distraction. This is when your dog is tested for their reaction to odd sites or sounds. A folded umbrella dropped on the floor was used to judge the dog's response to loud, unexpected noises. Toke reacted by picking it up, intending to walk off with it. That didn't fail him since it shows confidence. What failed him was trying to trip the person using a walker then jumping up behind the walker to help her push it! In practice, someone had pushed a chair around in simulation to a walker, and Toke climbed up then sat in the chair. He then gave the assistant a wet willy, his favorite form of greeting. Umm, no puppy. That's not what a Canine Good Citizen does!


All of the other dogs in our class passed with flying colors. Toke provided comic relief, which is fine by me. I know my dog, and someday he will pass this test like an old pro. He just needs to do a lot of mental maturing first.


I recently heard the devastating news that our editor, Jim Marks, has passed on to a better place. I know Jim would have enjoyed hearing how my exuberant puppy failed his CGC test in grand style. Jim was a beautiful person and a devoted dog lover. My condolences to my friend Carol and their family on losing their beloved husband, father, and friend. The world lost a true shining light.


- Susan M. Young is a long-standing Asheville, NC Real Estate Broker and has been active in dog sports with her Golden Retrievers for over 25 years. You can reach her through her website at www.SusanMYoung.com

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