Part of being a responsible dog owner is making sure that your dog is well mannered. That can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people, so the American Kennel Club came up with a program to standardize it. The Canine Good Citizen test is a way of showing that your dog has met the minimum standard for a dog being well behaved in public.
Some people take the test because their trainer recommended it. Others take it because they wanted a certificate. Here are 5 other reasons why you should consider taking the CGC test with your dog.
1. Goal Setting
The journey to a trained dog can be a long road, and it is good to have checkpoints along the way. The CGC has to be taken without toys, treats, or training collars. This makes it a great way to measure how good you have done fading tools out.
The test items are diverse to test all aspects of training. If your dog has issues with separation anxiety, passing the Supervised Separation item is a big deal. Having that item as a clear goal can help you have something to aim for.
Not every dog passes the test the first time they try. You may find that your dog misses an item or two. Instead of looking at this as a failure, try to look it as information. If your dog makes mistakes in the heeling items, that tells you what you need to work on next.
2. A Stepping Stone to Bigger Things
The Canine Good Citizen test is the simplest obedience test offered by the AKC. Passing the test is a good goal to reach for, but there are other things out there. Performance and working events are great fun for dogs, and are options once your dog knows the basics.
Rally and obedience are activities offered by the AKC that build upon the skills already covered in the CGC. Sports like agility and flyball are high energy, and often high distraction. Having a dog that knows how to navigate crowds is a great asset in these sports.
The sport of Mondioring in the United States uses the CGC as one of their temperament tests. A dog must past a temperament test before they can compete. This ensures that the dog’s on the field are safe to be around.
The CGC is also a good starting point for new handlers. You might find it intimidating to stand in front of a judge with your dog. Doing it in a lower pressure environment with the CGC can help you gain confidence before trying other sports.
3. Better Insurance Rates and Housing Options
Finding housing with a dog can be a struggle. You may have a hard time finding a place to rent, getting homeowner’s insurance, or even living in certain areas altogether. One way that you can improve your odds is to have your dog pass the Canine Good Citizen test.
Many landlords don’t like to rent to people with dogs, especially large breeds. There are risks to them in terms of damage to property and liability. When your dog passes the CGC, you get a certificate that you can show to your landlord as proof that your dog is well mannered and trained.
Some insurance companies are catching on to how great this test is. Some companies will raise your rates drastically with a dog, or even deny you based on the type of dog you have. The Canine Good Citizen test can be used to keep your rates reasonable.
4. Keeping Your Standards High
Training your dog isn’t something that you ever really finish. After your dog learns a command, it needs to be tested around distractions, and then you have to maintain it. It can be easy to let old behaviors start to creep back into the picture in the years following a training program.
If you make the decision to take the CGC test every year or two, you have a standard to maintain. It is much easier to keep things going strong than to have to fix issues before the test. Staying invested in the long term will have big benefits for both you and your dog.
5. Setting A Good Example
Dog behaviors issues are on the rise. We get more and more phone calls from people who are struggling with issues that are a big nuisance, or worse. By taking the Canine Good Citizen test, you set your dog up as an example for what other pet owners should strive for.
The test is well known amongst dog trainers, but not with the general public. Increasing awareness of the test also increases awareness of the importance of training. The more people who make that extra effort with their dog, the better off the whole community is.
Invite your friends to come watch your dog take the test. Order one of the cute CGC bandanas from the AKC so that your dog can show off. If you are talking to someone about your pet, educate them on the importance of good behavior. More community awareness will make the world a better place for our dogs. After all, a trained dog is a happy dog!
If you are interested in learning more about the test and where to take it, you can go to the AKC Canine Good Citizen website to find the test items, evaluators near you, and information on the advanced versions of the test.
Head Trainer Sam Adams is a CGC evaluator. Contact us if you would like to take this test in the Lexington/Louisville area.