Tips for training your dog to become a Canine Good Citizen

Tips for training your dog to become a Canine Good Citizen

The 10 Canine Good Citizen requirements: 

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger
  2. Sitting politely for petting
  3. Appearance and grooming
  4. Walking on a loose leash
  5. Walking through a crowd
  6. Sitting or laying down on cue and staying in place
  7. Coming when called
  8. Reaction to another dog
  9. Reaction to distraction
  10. Supervised separation

We all want our dogs to be the best versions of themselves. Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification is a great way for our four-legged friends to show off their smarts and learn how to be a good community member.

Becoming a Canine Good Citizen has plenty of benefits: Dogs and humans alike develop new skills, but it also increases your dog’s confidence and trust and strengthens the bond between you and your pup.

What is a Canine Good Citizen?

Canine Good Citizen is a training program through the American Kennel Club. It’s a test made up of 10 skills that teach good manners for dogs and responsible pet ownership for humans. The skills to pass on the test are practical, functional behaviors every dog can learn, and any dog can participate.

Sometimes, CGC certification is required when renting homes or apartments, so it can be helpful to pass the test before considering a big move. Plus, it can open up opportunities for therapy dog or service dog training certification and can be a great start to learning advanced dog sports and activities!

So, how do you and your dog get started?

A great first step is to figure out how your dog will best learn the new skills. Do they have better focus in a one-on-one setting, or do they prefer to practice in a training class with other dogs?

If your dog thrives in a group, Animal Humane Society has several training options to help you get started on your path to Canine Good Citizenship!

A dog attends AHS Training School

Canine Good Citizen training

Sam Weller, AHS Animal Behavior and Training Lead, says the best way to get started on the CGC skills is to enroll in a general obedience class. To be eligible for our CGC dog training class, students must first build their basic skills and progress through our Level 4 obedience course.

Our CGC prep class is a six-week program designed to prepare you and your dog for the official CGC test. While this class doesn’t guarantee a pass on the test, it gives you the tools you need to boost your dog’s skills and confidence.

If you’ve already taken obedience classes outside of AHS, we can set up an evaluation to see if you’re ready to enroll in the CGC prep class!

Tips for training your dog – from AHS expert trainers

  • Go out and practice your CGC test skills in public! This helps your dog get used to staying attentive in any situation.
  • Be realistic with your expectations. Always consider your dog’s age and what they can physically and mentally achieve. No need to rush!
  • Record yourself practicing the skills, as you may notice opportunities to improve your handler mechanics. This could also help you detect any stress your dog has while doing certain skills.
  • Have fun with your dog while preparing for your test! Developing and practicing these skills can be enriching for your dog and helpful for building your bond.

More on AHS training classes

AHS offers more than 100 classes each week at our Golden Valley, Woodbury, and St. Paul locations, and private sessions are also available.

Our specialty dog training classes include learning scent detection, therapy work, and prepping for the 10 CGC test requirements.

We offer sports classes that help dogs exercise and burn energy, one-day workshops to practice impulse control and keeping four paws on the floor, and classes that teach students how to give their dogs mental enrichment without relying on physical exercise.

Interested in enrolling in AHS Training School?

Learn more about all our behavior and specialty classes. And don’t forget: Community members who have recently adopted from AHS can use a new adopter discount to attend classes!