Athena is my first dog. Not just in the athena+nike family, but ever! I had a lot of difficulties with training her, so I’m extremely proud that she has earned the Canine Good Citizen title.
In honor of her accomplishment, I wanted to share some information about CGC for all of my blog readers. If you’re wanting to earn the CGC, here’s what it takes.
Your dog will need a good foundation of obedience training to pass the CGC. Working with treats or toys is a wonderful way to encourage your dog to learn new behaviors, but unfortunately you cannot use any treats or toys during the test.
Your dog cannot wear any kind of special harness, head collar, or leash. They must be on a regular collar and leash. This was a shock to me as Athena had been on a harness for a long time, so make note if you love using a harness too!
If your dog shows any aggression or reactivity they will fail.
If you dog has a potty accident they will fail.
Depending on the evaluator, you may also have a limit to how many times you can give a command without a response. Don’t panic – it’s easier than it sounds if you have worked consistently with your pup!
I figure that a list of commands is probably easiest to digest:
- Wait (as you walk through a door)
- 30 seconds in a Sit/Stay
- 30 seconds in a Down/Stay
- During a Stand/Stay as you touch their whole body including teeth, ears, tail, and all four paws
- In a figure 8 pattern
- Through a crowd of dogs
- Touch (included as Come/Recall)
- Look/Focus/Watch Me
- Leave It
Some of these do technically have commands attached, but have extra caveats, so I wanted to call them out separately.
- Greeting a person – you must have them in a Sit/Stay even when petted, and they cannot lay down
- Greeting another dog – you must have them in a Sit/Stay, and they cannot lay down; they cannot interact with the other dog
- Supervised separation – your dog is away from you for 3 minutes and cannot freak out
- Reaction to a distraction – the proctor will make a shocking noise and your dog can’t start barking or freaking out; an appropriate small startle is acceptable
- Loose leash walking – pretty self-explanatory!
- Rally – this is how some of the test may be performed, where all the dogs in the class Heel to several stations together, and must perform the commands together; if any dog messes up, you have to start over (for example if they break a Stay)
The full explanation of every section of the test is available at the AKC website!
How do I take the test?
You will need to find a CGC proctor to evaluate you for the test. All of the information you need to find an evaluator is on the American Kennel Club’s website.
If you take an advanced training course through retail training programs – for example at PetSmart or Petco – the test is often included in their highest level training. Find the route that works best for you!
One thing that is really important to know before diving in is if you can afford the various fees. I wasn’t aware of any of them when I got started and admittedly had some sticker shock!
Depending on the route you take, you may have class fees, which vary by facility. No matter what, there will be a proctor fee of around $20; you must be AKC registered, so if you are not, that is another $19; and you must pay for the title, which is $25.
You can just get the certificate and not the official title for $15, or I suppose you could skip it altogether, but it feels nice to be able to actually refer to my girl as Athena – CGC. If you don’t go for the title, you will still have a well-trained dog by following these standards!