Why Take the Canine Good Citizen Test With Your Australian Shepherd?

By Anton Hout, author of The Guide to Aussie Training & Care

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.

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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.

Why Take the Canine Good Citizen Test With Your Australian Shepherd? - Photo: Lady hugging red merle Australian Shepherd with snowy grass in background.

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So What Exactly Does the Canine Good Citizen Test Entail?

There are ten test skills that must be mastered in order to get a passing grade. These include:

  • Accepting a Friendly Stranger – this skill shows that your dog is able to allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak with its handler in a natural, everyday setting.
  • Sitting Politely for Petting – your dog must demonstrate the ability to let a friendly stranger touch it while it is out with its handler.
  • Appearance and Grooming – this is a two pronged skill, showing both the care and concern of the owner by demonstrating that the dog is clean, well-groomed and in healthy condition while also showing the dog's willingness to be groomed and examined by someone such as a veterinarian or groomer.
  • Out for a Walk (Walking on a Loose Lead) – this skill shows that the handler can maintain control while walking the dog on a loose lead along a predetermined course, which must include a right turn, left turn, about face and at least one stop.
  • Walking Through a Crowd – here the dog must demonstrate the ability to walk politely through pedestrian traffic in public spaces while maintaining control. The goal is for the dog to pass other people without showing any excessive reaction.
  • Sit and Down On Command and Staying In Place – For this test, which specifically demonstrates the dog's training, the leash is replaced with a 20 foot line. The handler must get the dog into a sit or down position on command and then, after telling the dog to stay, walk to the end of the 20 foot line before turning and returning to the dog at a natural pace.
  • Coming When Called – The handler walks ten feet from the dog, turns to face the dog and calls it to demonstrate the dog's ability to come when called.
  • Reaction to Another Dog – This skill is designed to show that the dog will behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop and shake hands while exchanging pleasantries, then continue on for another 10 feet or so. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other.
  • Reaction to Distraction – Designed to show that the dog will remain confident and controlled in any situation that involves a normal distraction such as dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog or dropping a cane or crutch.
  • Supervised Separation – Here the test demonstrates that the dog can be left with a trusted person while maintaining good behavior and training. The evaluator takes control of the dog while the handler goes out of sight for three minutes. The dog should not show any excessive signs of distress.
Why Take the Canine Good Citizen Test With Your Australian Shepherd? - Photo: Lady training red merle Australian Shepherd at park in grassy area.

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Getting Started With the Canine Good Citizen Test

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.

Canine Good Citizen Test Is Just the Beginning

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care Ebook

Start with our official ebook Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care. It was created by Aussie lovers for Aussie lovers. You can read this practical guide on any computer, tablet, or smartphone.

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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A dog that has passed the Canine Good Citizen Test is better prepared to be a polite and respectful member of society and exhibit a strong bond with his owner. Find out more about how to get started. #australianshepherd #aussie #dogtraining #puppytraining #aussielovers

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