What is a Canine Good Citizen?

A smiling Jack Russell

After your Jack Russell completes basic obedience training, your trainer or training club might suggest going for the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate.

What's that?

We're glad you asked.

Canine Good Citizen is the next level of dog training after basic obedience. A CGC certificate tells the world that your dog has demonstrated that he or she has good manners inside the home and out in the community.

If your dog has earned their CGC, you can be proud to take them out and about with you, knowing that they will behave like the good dog that they are.

About the Canine Good Citizen Program

The Canine Good Citizen program is a program of the American Kennel Club. It began in 1989, and since then, over one million dogs have completed the training.

Canine Good Citizen is the second level in the AKC's Family Dog Program. Family Dog is a multi-level program of training courses, through which your pup can learn all sorts of skills, from basic commands to agility to working as a therapy dog.

Tom is part of a wedding party. What a good boy!

A Canine Good Citizen certificate is a prerequisite for a number of more advanced training programs, and is a must if you intend for your dog to do therapy work or to interact with the public in a professional capacity.

Also, some home insurance policies require that dogs living on an insured property have a CGC certificate. Some condo associations also require it. And if your landlord requires a pet deposit, some will reduce the deposit, or even eliminate it if your dog has a CGC.

What Does Your Dog Learn in CGC?

A Canine Good Citizen course prepares your dog to take the 10-step CGC test. The test will be administered by an American Kennel Club examiner, though you will find courses taught through any number of organizations and individuals.

The ten steps are:

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger
  2. Sitting politely for petting
  3. Being well-groomed and allowing grooming
  4. Walking attentively on a loose leash
  5. Walking calmly through a crowd
  6. Sit, down, and stay
  7. Come when called
  8. Behaving politely around other dogs
  9. Calm response to distraction
  10. Calmly responds to separation from the owner

You can watch a mock test here:

What Comes After CGC?

The Canine Good Citizen Program is the stepping-off point for any number of exciting opportunities. After your dog completes the program, they can take other AKC courses, such as “Community Canine,” which teaches your dog to behave safely in crowds.

They can also become an AKC “Trick Dog,” learning different sets of tricks and skills. The AKC also has a program that can prepare your dog to do therapy dog work.

Where Can You Find CGC Training?

The first place to look is through your local AKC dog club. Your dog does not need to be AKC registered, or a purebred to participate.

You can also look for obedience clubs in your area. Some of these are affiliated with the AKC, while others are not. Some cities and parks departments also have obedience clubs. But any Canine Good Citizen class should prepare your dog for the test.

Finally, you can buy the official handbook and work on your own. Once you think your dog is ready, you can book a test with an AKC evaluator.

Is Your Jack Ready to Become a Canine Good Citizen?

Jacks are clever and energetic, and cute as anything. If you think about it, they're the perfect ambassadors for Dogkind. And with a Canine Good Citizen Certificate, they'll be ready for any situation.

Featured Image CC0 by Jade87, via Pixabay