The Local Leash: Canine Good Citizen Certification -- Reward Your Good Dog!
Learn how to certify your dog as a well-mannered and obedient good citizen, or adopt a dog who already is!
In last week's column about the volunteer brigade of dogs and their owners at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, I wrote about how dogs in the patrol had to pass the AKC's Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) test. I thought I'd look further into this program for residents interested in certifying their proper pooches.
Why Utilize the Canine Good Citizen Program?
A CGC dog is a well-mannered dog. Dogs who pass the CGC evaluation are obedient in the home and well-socialized in public. They also have a good foundation for other activities, such as agility, tracking, or performance.
Most importantly, dog owners who train their dog for the CGC test have a wonderful bond with their dog that will transfer from the home to the dog park to the vet's office. The dog will listen to its owner, keeping him and others safe.
The AKC says on their website, "This is a program that can help us assure that the dogs we love will always be welcomed and well-respected members of our communities." Dogs are often a source of contention for homeowners and neighbors, and a well-mannered dog sets the standard for a peaceful, friendly neighborhood.
How to Prepare a Dog for the CGC test
The test consists of ten parts:
- Accepting a friendly stranger
- Sitting politely for petting
- Appearance and grooming (tolerance of being groomed and handled)
- Out for a walk (loose leash)
- Sit down on command and staying in place
- Coming when called
- Reaction to another dog
- Reaction to a distraction
- Supervised separation
All dogs of any age are welcome to take the CGC test as long as they are up-to-date on their vaccines and Rabies shots. No specific training courses are required to take the test. A dog who has learned the basics from its owner may still pass the test, as Paw Patroler Paul Wallace's dog did.
However, dog owners looking for assistance in training their dogs can enroll in six week classes at Petsmart in Montrose. Class offerings include puppy, basic, intermediate, advanced, clicker, and private training. The advanced class goes over the skills needed for the CGC test, and no previous classes are required to enroll your dog in the advance class as long as he or she is at the appropriate skill level already.
Dog trainer Mary Anne Burridge lives in Cuyahoga Falls and works at the Macedonia Petsmart. She is also an AKC Approved Evaluator for the CGC test and has been testing dogs in the Akron and surrounding areas for the past three years.
Mary Anne attended Kent State University to study Human Development and Family Studies and also works as a nanny when not training dogs. However, the love of her life, a Bernese Mountain Dog named Riley, lead her to a new career in dog training unexpectedly when she enrolled him in a puppy class.
Mary Anne loves all the opportunity this career has brought her.
"Petsmart gives us our accreditation, but each year I attend seminars," said Mary Anne." "This will be my second year attending Clicker Expo, which is four days of seminars and hands-on labs. I'm currently planning on getting my CPDT (Council for Professional Dog Trainers) certification in the spring."
The majority of Mary Anne's clients take the Good Citizen test as the first step toward training their dog as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs are reliable, quiet, loving dogs who offer emotional support to patients and students at nursing homes, hospitals and schools.
Make Your Dog a Canine Good Citizen
Mary Anne evaluates dogs for the CGC test at any Petsmart location when dogs complete an advanced Petsmart training course. She is also available to individually evaluate dogs who have not taken the course.
If you have questions about the CGC test or want to have your dog evaluated, you can contact Mary Anne via email or call her at the Macedonia Petsmart at (330) 908-0531.
Adopt a Homeless Good Citizen Dog
The Humane Society of Greater Akron is utilizing volunteers to train their adoptable dogs and certify them with the Canine Good Citizen test. The volunteers and staff will be training and certifying 40 adoptable dogs, likely shortening their stay at the shelter as they become highly adoptable.The shelter estimates that 25% of their adoptable dogs will benefit from this training.
Walk Through a Crowd
The shelter has already certified about 20 dogs and are now starting the second round of training classes and evaluations. This is an amazing opportunity for those looking to save a homeless dog but who don't have time for training or a puppy!