This is a little bit of a long post but I didn’t want to split the CGC criteria up. The test itself can’t be taken until 6 mo old, so my first step (and next post) is about the STAR puppy test from the AKC. But I’m really after the CGC at 6 months, and like any test, need to prepare.
So here is what I am aiming for as a goal starting about 4 mo old. There are 10 different things being tested for a Canine Good Citizen recognition, and there are some rules, such as no restrictive devices to physically prevent a dog from say, jumping.
Many evaluators also have training classes specifically for taking the test, and are glad to fill up their classes! The more well behaved dogs there are in the world, the better, right?
My trainer also does this, and believe me, we start at no later than 12 weeks old. But by 16 weeks I am getting serious about it.
If my pup can pass this test at 6 months, they can become involved in therapy work, which only widens their socializing possibilities, and allows people to enjoy the benefits of a dog without actually having to be responsible for them. There’s nothing like a soft, loving puppy to bring a smile and a feeling of well-being!
Therapy dogs work in assisted living, cancer treatment centers, children’s reading programs and a wide variety of situations. All different people in all different emotional and physcial states, and all requiring the puppy to be calm and loving. It’s a tall order, but I hope to have my next pup passed by 5 mo old or so.
My pup’s pack will have a place reserved for the CGC patch, as well as a mobility patch, guide dog, hearing dog, and PSD patch (psychiatric service dog). He may not get all of them, but I am gunning for the CGC, mobility, and PSD patch at least.
I have copied the test info from the page I put a link for, and it is in italics. Anything I add is not in italics.
After signing the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge, owners and their dogs are ready to take the CGC Test. Items on the Canine Good Citizen Test include:
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.
This means alot of socializing is needed for my next little SDit, meeting strangers without pack/harness/vest. When I begin training for this, I have a treat in my hand right in front of the puppy’s nose while people walk up to me.
I let them look a person, but they hold their position because of the treat their trying to get out of my fingers!
This sweet dog is just learning, and you can see the tail is little tucked, so he needs more practice to be comfortable with things.
I’ll do that 2-3 times with different people, and then the next person gets to meet them (test #2 below). But this teaches them that some people will give them attention, some will not and they don’t get to ask for it or just walk up to people.
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.
I will probably ask the evaluator to allow my pup to stand since they are going to be a mobility dog, but since they don’t have a pack or harness on, it doesn’t really matter much. Practicing for this is pretty simple; lots of people pet them from 8 wks on.
If a pup doesn’t like their head petted, (had a couple of those!), I pull out the clicker and some super yummy treats and they get a click and treat anytime their head is touched. My pups get brushed and petted and groomed all over by all kinds of people. The more they adjust to lots of parts being handled the better. This also comes into play for the next test.
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.
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.
Oh yes, the pace with me games are fantastic for teaching the attentiveness to a handler’s body and quick response for this part of the test.
Since this is a leash and collar test, no harness or gentle leader, the point is to see if the pup is moving with the person because they want to, no because they have to and can’t do anything else.
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.
The pace with me games and ignore it practice will make this much easier for a friendly people person pup. Anytime a puppy shows interest in something or someone I use a game derived from “Control Unleashed” that gives an immediate click and reward when they disengage their attention and look ahead again.
Doing that doesn’t make looking off limits to them, it just reinforces that looking ahead is what I want and gets them the treats they like. It relaxes a puppy, not restricting a natural behavoir (looking) so much as rewarding for ignoring.
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.
This is a relatively simple stay exercise until you start to think about everything around the pup that can distract them! Working on stay everywhere and young will help a pup remain relaxed without you for a short time.
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.
Oy, the come…this is really the very first obedience command we work on, me and my pup, and it’s both without the word (encouraging attentiveness, come games), and also with the word when the pup is already regularly offering the behavoir.
Some pups are so handler focused that this is fairly easy, but some pups will have to really work at not veering off to sniff the light pole or stopping to watch the bike go down the street. The more you work on attentiveness and come admist distraction the better!
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 one may be tougher than first impression might lead you to think. This means a dog is so well socialized they aren’t feeling a need to see who that other dog is, and so attentive to their handler that they don’t break their position. This is some serious self control for a pup.
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.
Distraction training, all the time, everywhere, with ever increasing difficulty…yeah. It’s a service dog’s life! This is one of the main reasons I want the pup to pass; I know just how good a pup is at ignoring stuff even if I’m a little anxious or not as relaxed as usual. Can they, will they, have the self confidence to handle it?
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 I have to specifically train for, since I’ve spent so much time teaching the puppy to be watching me, moving with me, staying with me.
But there are times a service dog will have to be controlled by another person: people fall, people need emergency help and there’s quite a legal fight about SD’s in emergency rooms or ambulances.
So three minutes is going to be a hard limit to reach unless we practice it with neighbors, trainers, family, and strangers who are willing.