The Canine Good Citizen Test (CGC) is the culmination of the Canine Good Citizen Program, a ten skill training program open to all dogs and their owners. The purpose of the CGC test is to encouraging training and obedience in dogs and responsible ownership in their human counterparts while strengthening their bond both at home and in the community.
The benefits of CGC training, which was created by the American Kennel Club (AKC), go well beyond simply mastering the basic obedience commands like sit, down and stay. They also help your dog to be well behaved around others, including the vet or dog groomer, and it can even provide the basic foundation for more specialized training such as agility work or therapy dog certification. A dog that has passed the CGC test is better prepared to be a polite and respectful member of society and exhibit a strong bond with his owner.
There are ten test skills that must be mastered in order to get a passing grade. These include:
Taking the CGC test begins with training. Your first step should be finding a CGC approved trainer. Your local AKC chapter can be a helpful reference. You can work on CGC skills with any trainer but having an approved trainer can make taking the test easier as they are more likely to be approved as evaluators as well, so you'll have the benefit of testing with someone you trust.
Once your training is complete, you'll then be able to take the Canine Good Citizen Test. In order to receive CGC recognition you'll need to be evaluated by an AKC CGC approved evaluator. The evaluator will administer the 10 step test and if you and your dog pass, you'll then be able to take the Responsible Dog Ownership pledge and receive your CGC title.
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Earning a CGC title is about more than just demonstrating good behavior. It can actually be a doorway to more advanced training, including agility and dog sports. It's also a prerequisite for therapy dog certification and can also provide some specific benefits for you as an owner. These may include discounts from your homeowner's insurance program or extra points from a potential apartment or condo complex, which may see CGC awards as a sign of responsible tenants.
You and your dog don't have to stop training with the CGC program. It can actually serve as a jumping off point on your path toward other training programs like those offered by the American Kennel Club, including the AKC Family Dog and AKC Community Canine programs, AKC Urban CGC title, AKC Trick Dog, or Therapy Dog training. Each of these is designed to demonstrate your dog's capability in specific unique circumstances.
If training and responsible dog ownership is something that you and your Australian Shepherd are interested in, then participating in the Canine Good Citizen test may be the perfect challenge for you. It can help to develop your skills as well as create a strong and loving bond that will last a lifetime.
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