CGC: The Canine Good Citizenship Test
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CGC: The Canine Good Citizenship Test

The Canine good citizenship test. The 10 test items of the CGC test.

Being  CGC Evaluator for many years, I always strive for owners to earn the CGC Award on their dog. Many times it helps with Home Owners or Renter's Insurance, to prove that you are a responsible owner, your dog has had basic training to be a well mannered, a well behaved dog in the community. AKC (the American Kennel Club ) has devised a test for your dog to show this. They test Evaluators to make sure they know what they are doing as far as training, whether it be Compulsion/Aversive (check/choke chain, prong collar tools of learning) or Positive Reinforcement (treats, praise, toys to motivate, lure, reward tools for learning). You can find an Evaluator in your area by going to their website. The Evaluators must abide by the rules the AKC put forth when doing these evaluations. The 10 (ten) test items are listed below, with my comments in bold. All of these items can be learned in most basic training classes. Praise, and talking nice to your dog is encouraged all thru the test.


Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger

This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The evaluator walks up to the dog and handler and greets the handler in a friendly manner, ignoring the dog. The evaluator and handler shake hands and exchange pleasantries. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness, and must not break position or try to go to the evaluator.

The handler should have the dog in a "sit" position when the stranger (someone the dog does not know, or does not see on a regular basis) approaches.

Test 2: Sitting politely for petting

This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. With the dog sitting at the handler's side, to begin the exercise, the evaluator pets the dog on the head and body. The handler may talk to his or her dog throughout the exercise. The dog may stand in place as it is petted. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.

Again it must be a stranger, the same person for the number one item can be the same person to approach and pet the dog. The dog starts in a "sit" beside the handler, when asked "may I pet your dog?" the handler can release the dog or say "yes" and the stranger can bend down or squat in front of the dog, at that point the dog may approach the stranger to invite petting, but not jump on them. This is only for a few seconds, the "stranger" should act normal, not high pitch excitement talk, this can set the dog up to fail, just say hello in a friendly manner, and then say thanks and walk away.

Test 3: Appearance and grooming

This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so. It also demonstrates the owner's care, concern and sense of responsibility. The evaluator inspects the dog to determine if it is clean and groomed. The dog must appear to be in healthy condition (i.e., proper weight, clean, healthy and alert). The handler should supply the comb or brush commonly used on the dog. The evaluator then softly combs or brushes the dog, and in a natural manner, lightly examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. It is not necessary for the dog to hold a specific position during the examination, and the handler may talk to the dog, praise it and give encouragement throughout.

This is self explainatory. The brushing is brief, a couple of strokes, just to see if they can be brushed without excessive mouthiness, or biting at the brush, or avoidance.

Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)

This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog may be on either side of the handler. The dog's position should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to the handler's movements and changes of direction. The dog need not be perfectly aligned with the handler and need not sit when the handler stops. The evaluator may use a pre-plotted course or may direct the handler/dog team by issuing instructions or commands. In either case, there should be a right turn, left turn, and an about turn with at least one stop in between and another at the end. The handler may talk to the dog along the way, praise the dog, or give commands in a normal tone of voice. The handler may sit the dog at the halts if desired.

NO harsh corrections (vocal, pops, jerks, tugs) are allowed. No corrective collars or harnesses, are allowed. Dogs should be on a regular collar, one that has a metal buckle or plastic snap together, a show slip collar (one that closes at the neck and stays in place, not a fancy choke/check chain) or a martingale is allowed also.

As of November 4, 2010, body harnesses may be used in the CGC test. The evaluator should check to make sure the harness is not of a type that completely restricts the dog's movement such that it could not pull or jump up if it tried. If a harness is used it must be a regular type harness, used properly and not modified (ie..leash clipped to front of an H harness or Comfort Wrap, so as to redirect the dogs body orientation back towards the handler) to keep dog from pulling if he is inclined to do so. An Evaluator may exclude a harness from the exam, if the Evaluator conducts classes that does not allow harnesses to be used. Dog should not pull while in harness during this test item.

Test 5: Walking through a crowd

This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three). The dog may show some interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with the handler, without evidence of over-exuberance, shyness or resentment. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise the dog throughout the test. The dog should not jump on people in the crowd or strain on the leash.

Self explainatory

Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place

This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler's commands to sit and down and will remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers). The dog must do sit AND down on command, then the owner chooses the position for leaving the dog in the stay. Prior to this test, the dog's leash is replaced with a line 20 feet long. The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to get the dog to sit and then down. The evaluator must determine if the dog has responded to the handler's commands. The handler may not force the dog into position but may touch the dog to offer gentle guidance. When instructed by the evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward the length of the line, turns and returns to the dog at a natural pace. The dog must remain in the place in which it was left (it may change position) until the evaluator instructs the handler to release the dog. The dog may be released from the front or the side.

If doing this test indoors, and the area is enclosed, keeping the safety of the dog and handler in mind, the 20 ft. line is not needed, but the area must be able to have the handler walk 20 ft away.

Test 7: Coming when called

This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog. The handler may use encouragement to get the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell dogs to "stay" or "wait" or they may simply walk away, giving no instructions to the dog.

Again in an enclosed place, safety always in mind, a line is not needed, the evaluator can just hold the leash and the handler steps 10 ft away and recalls their dog. Outdoors: a line must be placed on the dog, the 20 ft line can be used for this, but the handler only needs to walk 10 ft away.

Test 8: Reaction to another dog

This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.

This is just a short hello, how are you, call me sometime, let's do lunch etc.. the dog doesn't need to sit when the handler's approach but they can not continue to go towards each other, they must stop when their handler stops. The reaction dog used for testing needs to be well mannered dog, if the dogs in the test are nice then they can be used on each other.

Test 9: Reaction to distraction

This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations. The evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity and/or may appear slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise it throughout the exercise.

The distractions used should be everyday things you might encounter, you must have a visual and a sound distraction in the test.

Test 10: Supervised separation

This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, "Would you like me to watch your dog?" and then take hold of the dog's leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness. Evaluators may talk to the dog but should not engage in excessive talking, petting, or management attempts (e.g., "there, there, it's alright").

This is self explainatory, it can be a trusted person to hold the leash of the test dog, it does not need to be a stranger.


All tests must be performed on leash. Dogs should wear well-fitting buckle or slip collars made of leather, fabric, or chain. Special training collars such as pinch collars, head halters, etc. are not permitted in the CGC test. We recognize that special training collars may be very useful tools for beginning dog trainers, however, we feel that dogs are ready to take the CGC test at the point at which they are transitioned to regular collars.

The evaluator supplies a 20-foot lead for the test. The owner/handler should bring the dog's brush or comb to the test.


Owners/handlers may use praise and encouragement throughout the test. The owner may pet the dog between exercises. Food and treats are not permitted during testing, nor is the use of toys, squeaky toys, etc. to get the dog to do something. We recognize that food and toys may provide valuable reinforcement or encouragement during the training process but these items should not be used during the test.

Failures - Dismissals

Any dog that eliminates during testing must be marked failed. The only exception to this rule is that elimination is allowable in test Item 10, but only when test Item 10 is held outdoors.

Any dog that growls, snaps, bites, attacks, or attempts to attack a person or another dog is not a good citizen and must be dismissed from the test.

That is the test, I hope anyone who has a dog will participate in training and accomplish getting a CGC award on your dog. Puppies as young as 10 weeks can start training. Find a training program that checks vaccinations, are able to disinfect the training area, and uses positive reinforcement techniques, ( puppies should not have check chains or prong collars on their necks).

More dogs die due to a lack of socialization than they ever do of disease: and most dogs at the shelters waiting on death row do not need to be there if they had been given a little bit of training. It is easier to cure Parvo than it is a fearful, aggressive dog. Training and socialization is important to your dogs development.

For those of you going to take the test-Good Luck!!

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Comments (1)

I agree. Dogs should be good citizens too! A former neighbor's dog was definitely lacking in good citizenship. Now he thankfully resides in another town. Free at last, we're free at last!