The Canine Good Citizen Test—rules and regulations
The Canine Good Citizen Program is a two-part program that is designed to teach responsible dog ownership to owners and certify dogs that have the training and behaviors needed to be reliable, well-behaved members of their families and communities. Here we’ll discuss the general rules and regulations for the CGC Test.
There is no age limit for dogs taking the CGC Test. Because the American Kennel Club supports owners who wish to socialize and introduce their dogs to training as early as possible, dogs are welcome to participate in CGC tests when they are old enough to have completed all vaccinations. Owners who bring young dogs to CGC tests become acquainted with qualified trainers, and the CGC Test can be used to identify future training goals.
There are several exceptions to having no age limit at a CGC Test. The Match Regulations of the American Kennel Club impose minimum age requirements of at least 6 months for A, OA, and OB sanctioned matches and at least 3 months at B matches. When CGC tests are given in conjunction with AKC events, clubs enforce the regulations for all activities. Another exception to having no age limit for dogs taking the CGC Test is when the test is specifically designed to evaluate dogs for use in therapy work. In this case, some test-giving agencies, at the direction of therapy dog groups, might require that dogs be at least 1 year of age to be evaluated.
The vast majority of dogs who take the CGC Test are friendly, happy animals, which makes the entire test extremely rewarding and positive. When a dog shows some signs of aggression, however, its behavior is contrary to the CGC Program. Any dog that growls or snaps at, bites, attacks, or attempts to attack another person or another dog is not a good citizen and is dismissed from the test. Furthermore, if any of these behaviors are observed in the immediate testing area prior to or after testing, the CGC Evaluator will send a written report to the AKC CGC Department.
During the test, if the evaluator is having a difficult time reading the dog and feels uncomfortable, the evaluator may instruct you to handle the dog in a manner that ensures the evaluator’s safety. For example, it is acceptable for an evaluator to ask an owner to lift and hold his dog’s leg so that the evaluator can handle the foot. Evaluators can instruct an owner to steady a dog’s head or provide the dog with reassurance during the exam and grooming exercises. If your dog makes the evaluator so uncomfortable that he feels unsafe, the dog will not pass the CGC Test.
All tests are performed on leash. Usually a 4- or 6-foot leather or fabric leash is fine. Retractable leashes may not be used in the CGC Test. Dogs should wear a well-fitting buckle or slip collar (including a martingale) made of leather, fabric or chain. Special training equipment such as harnesses or haltis, pinch collars, and head collars such as gentle leaders are not permitted.
There is no doubt that special training collars may be valuable equipment in the beginning stages of dog training, but the AKC feels that dogs are ready to be tested only after they have been transitioned to a slip or buckle collar.
Eliminating (urinating or defecating) during testing Any dog that eliminates during testing will not pass the test. The only exceptions to this rule are that when the test is held outdoors, elimination is allowed between exercises (e.g., the dog urinates on a bush as he is being walked to the next test station) and in the item titled “Supervised Separation.”
Handlers are not permitted to use food (or toys) as a reward during the CGC Test. While food can be effectively used as a reinforcer during training, it is considered a training aid and should not be used in the CGC Test. The purpose of the CGC Test is to determine if the dog has learned all of the skills on the test and if the dog can be controlled by the handler when no special incentives are offered.
Evaluators may choose to allow dogs who have only missed one test item to take the test again at the end of the day’s testing.
Vaccines and licenses
You are no longer required to provide proof of vaccines. Owners sign the Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge on the form to attest that their dogs are in the care of a qualified veterinarian.
Next week we’ll begin our discussion of each of the test items. If you would like to come by and see a CGC Test, the Ann Arbor Dog Training Club will hold a CGC demonstration and practice/run-through at 7:30 p.m. June 14 in rooms 1-2. See the AADTC website for directions. In addition, there will be a CGC Test conducted at 7:30 p.m. June 21 in rooms 1-2. No preregistration is required. The cost to participate in the practice is $10; the test is also $10.