The CGC is provided by the American Kennel Club Program and it is on a pass/fail basis. Before your dog takes the test, you, the handler, are asked to sigh the Responsible Dog Owner's Pledge:
I understand that to truly be a Canine Good Citizen, my dog needs a responsible owner. I agree to maintain my dog's health, safety, and quality of life. By participating in the Canine Good Citizen test, I agree to the following.
1. I will be responsible for my dog's health needs. These include routine dog vet care for check ups and vaccines, a proper diet and clean water at all times, and daily exercise along with regular grooming and bathing.
2. I will be responsible for my dog's safety, properly control my dog in its premises and using a leash in public. I will also ensure that the dog has some form of identification (tags, tattoos, microchip).
3. I will not allow my dog to infringe on the rights of others. That includes not letting my dog run loose in the neighborhood, not allowing my dog to be a nuisance by barking, and picking up and properly disposing of my dog's waste everywhere, including hiking trails.
4. I will be responsible for my dog's quality of life, by understanding that basic training is beneficial to all dogs, that all dogs need attention and playtime, and that owning a dog is a commitment in time and caring.
You need to sign and date your pledge before the Canine Good Citizen test begins.
Warning: Your dog will fail and be dismissed if he eliminates during testing (with exception item test #10 and only if the test is held outdoors). Make sure your dog takes a long walk and eliminates prior to testing. The other cause of dismissal is growling, attacking, snapping, biting and overall aggression.
There are no dog treats allowed during the entire test.
Equipment: You must bring your dog's leash that will be attached to your dog's buckle or slip collar. Special training collars, such as pinch ones and head halters, are not permitted. Bring a brush or comb. The evaluator is responsible for supplying the 20 foot lead.
The test that comprises of ten parts.
Items on the Canine Good Citizen test
1. Accepting a friendly stranger
This test demonstrates your dog will allow a stranger to approach safely in a normal every day situation. The evaluator and you, the handler, meet and greet briefly, ignoring the dog. The dog must show no signs of discomfort and must not break position.
2. Sitting politely for petting
This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch him. With the dog in the sit position, next to his owner, the evaluator pets the dog. Your dog must not show aggression or overt shyness, try to pull away etc.
3. Appearance and grooming
This is a practical aspect of the test, as it demonstrates the dog can be groomed and examined. The evaluator inspects the dog to determine if it's healthy and groomed. The evaluator will also brush or comb your dog, lightly giving it a physical examination. The dog does not need to stay completely still, but should remain calm and compliant.
4. Walking on a loose lead
This demonstrates the handler's control. The dog may be on either side of his handler and does not need to be perfectly aligned with the handler nor sit. The evaluator will most likely use a pre-plotted course (often using orange cones with signs attached). There will be a left and a right turn, an about turn and at least one stop involved. The handler may talk to the dog through this, using praise and commands.
5. Walking through a crowd
Dog and handler must show they can walk around and pass close to several people (a minimum of three) without the dog displaying over-exuberance, shyness, jumping, or aggression and without straining on the leash.
6. Sit and down on command and staying in place
This demonstrates that your dog has basic training and will respond to the handler's commands. The dog must do both the sit and down command. The handler chooses in which position to demonstrate the stay. The leash is replaced with a 20 foot line. The handler may even gently touch the dog to get him in position. When instructed, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks toward the end of the line then turns and returns to the dog at a normal pace. The dog may change position but must stay in place until the handler releases it.
7. Coming when called
You, the handler, move ten feed from your dog, turn to face the dog and call him to you. Feel free to encourage your dog to come by using an exciting tone of voice.
8. Reaction to another dog
This demonstrates your dog will behave in the presence of other dogs. You and your dog need to approach another handler with his dog from a distance of 20 feet. Stop, shake hands, exchange a few words, and move away to 10 feet. The dogs should show nothing more than casual interest in each other.
9. Reaction to distraction
This test demonstrates the dog's confidence in view of common yet distracting situations. Examples of such situations are the dropping of a chair, rolling a cart or dolly past the dog, and having a jogger run past the dog. Your dog may express interest but should not panic, eliminate, bark, show aggression or nervousness. Feel free to talk and calm your dog during this part of the exam.
10. Supervised separation
This demonstrates that your dog will maintain its training and good manners away from you. You, the owner, have to leave your dog with the trainer for 3 minutes. You must be out of sight. Your dog does not have to stay in any particular position but should not bark, whine, or show anything other than mild agitation.
Overall, the Canine Good Citizen test, is not too demanding. It's all about practice and socialization. If you're not already doing so, start bringing your dog in public places with you. Whether out for coffee or to the neighborhood's pet store, the exposure will breed additional confidence.
You can view a real example of a canine good citizen test taking by clicking on this link: Chiweenie Canine Good Citizen test taking.
Good luck to all hopeful good citizens and their handlers.