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Creating a Good Canine Citizen - an overview
Centuries ago, when dogs were taken from the wild to serve as companions, early dog owners began the process of assuming responsibility for each dog’s care and training .Over time, dogs were trained to obey household rules so they would be welcome family members. Today more than ever, dogs must also have good manners in public to live harmoniously within communities and survive the increasing challenges of anti-canine advocates.

Every dog should respond to at least four basic commands to function acceptably in public: “ heel ,” “Sit,” “Down,” and “Stay.” Response to these commands gives dogs the social skills that defuse anti-canine feelings and foster good citizenship. However your dog is not capable of training itself. It needs your help to become a Canine Good Citizen.

Training results in a controlled dog, one that does not bother the neighbors or their pets. Training dogs do not balk at grooming procedures or a veterinarian’s examination. Training stimulates your dog’s intelligence and gives its life meaning by letting it know how to please you. In an emergency, training can save your dog’s life.

A trained dog has good manners, which reflect favorably on its owner, its breed and its species. Canine Good Citizen program will help you and all dog owners everywhere achieve this goal. You can take help from your local club and private training schools to train your dog and pass the test to make your dog a Good Canine Citizen

Welcome to the AKC’S Canine Good Citizen [CGC] Program. Started in 1989,CGC is a certification program that is designed to reward dogs who have good manners at home and in the community.

The Canine Good Citizen Program is a two-part program that stresses responsible pet ownership for owners and basic good manners for dogs. All dogs who pass the 10-step CGC test may receive a certificate from the American kennel Club.

Many dog owners choose Canine Good Citizen training as the first step in training their dogs. The Canine Good Citizen Program lays foundation for other AKC activities such as obedience, agility, tracking, and performance events. As you work with your dog to train CGC skills, you ,will discover the many benefits and joys of training your dog .Training will enhance the bond between you and your dog. Dogs who have a solid obedience education are a joy to live with-they respond well to household routines, have good manners in the presence of people and other dogs, and they fully enjoy the company of the owner who took the time to provide training ,intellectual stimulation ,and a high quality life. Canine Good Citizen is one of the most rapidly growing programs in the American Kennel Club. There are many exciting applications of this wonderful, entry level that go beyond the testing and certifying of dogs.

Many other countries [England, Australia,Japan,Hungary,Denmark,Sweeden,Canada and Finland] have developed CGC programs based on the AKC’S CGC program .Police and Animal Control agencies use CGC for dealing with dog problems in communities. Some therapy groups use the CGC as a partial screening tool in selecting dogs.

A number of specialty[one breed only ] clubs give the CGC at their annual national dogshow. Dog clubs have discovered that the CGC is an event that allows everyone to go home a winner. Veterinarians have recognized the benefits of well-trained dogs and there are some CGC programs in place in veterinary hospitals.

State legislatures began recognizing the CGC program as a means of advocating responsible dog ownership and 22 states now have Canine Good Citizen resolutions.In a little over one decade, the Canine Good Citizen Program has begun to have an extremely positive impact in many of our communities. 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.

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE ?

All dogs, including both purebred and mixed breed dogs are welcome to participate in the CGC Program. Dogs must be old enough to have received necessary immunizations such as rabies vaccines. Owners will sign the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge attesting to having the dog under the routine care of a veterinarian who will work with the owner to determine an appropriate plan and schedule for vaccines and other health care procedures.

There is no age limit for the CGC test. A dog is never too old to be a good citizen. Puppies who have completed all immunizations and boosters may be tested, however, because we know that behavior and temperament can change over time, when puppies pass the CGC test, owners should have them re-tested as adults. There are a few exemptions relating to participation in a CGC test. If the CGC test is given at a sanctioned show, the age requirements for the show apply to CGC also. Further, when the CGC test is administered at a sanctioned show, the test may be restricted to only dogs entered in the show or to purebred dogs.

Before taking the Canine Good Citizen test, owners will sign the RESPONSIBLE DOG OWNERS PLEDGE. We believe that responsible dog ownership is a key part of CGC concept and by signing the pledge, owners agree to take care of their dog’s health, safety, exercise ,training and quality of life. Owners also agree to show responsibility by doing things such as cleaning up after their dogs in public places and never letting dogs infringe on the rights of others. 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 : ACCPTING 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.

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.

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 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 withy 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.

TEST 5 : WALKING THROUGH A CROWD

This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is in 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.

TEST 6 : SIT AND DOWN ON COMMAND AND STAYING IN A 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, 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 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

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 as the evaluator provides mild distractions [ e.g., petting ]

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 casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.

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.

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 “ ].

EQUIPMENT

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 to permitted in the CGC test. We recognize that special training collars may be very useful tools for beginners ,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.

ENCOURAGEMENT

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 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. The purpose of the CGC Program is to ensure that our favorite companion, the dog, can be a respected member of the community because it has been trained to be well behaved in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs. The CGC test is noncompetitive and dogs are not required to perform with the same precision required in formal obedience. The dogs that pass all 10 items of the CGC test, including pure breds and mixed breeds, are listed in the CGC records at the American kennel Club. Owners of dogs that pass all 10 items of the CGC test may order an official certificate from the American Kennel Club.

J. RANGARAJAN
USA - CORRESPONDENT
INFORMATION SOURCE: AMERCAN KENNEL CLUB

 
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