AKC Canine Good Citizen Certificate
The AKC Canine Good Citizen Certificate, as described on the AKC (American Kennel Club) website, “is recognized as the gold standard for dog behavior.” It’s a really big deal to get this. And it’s not just the canines who get this award that are well-behaved. Their owners must prove that they are responsible and must promise, in writing, to remain responsible.
Who is Eligible
Training and testing for the AKC Canine Good Citizen Certificate is open to any canine of any breed or age and their human of good standing. The only requirement is that a dog must be old enough to have received their necessary vaccinations, such as rabies.
In order to train and test for the AKC Canine Good Citizen Certificate, dog owners are required to sign the “Responsible Dog Owners Pledge.” By signing this pledge, dog owners promise:
- that their dog is under routine care of a veterinarian who will ensure their dog is healthy and up to date on vaccinations,
- to care for their dog’s health and safety,
- to ensure their dog gets daily exercise,
- to train their dog,
- to ensure their dog has a good quality of life, and
- to be responsible in the community by cleaning up after their dogs in public places and ensuring their dogs are not disrespectful of the rights of other people.
- this means carry those little poop baggies when you’re out with your dog, actually use it to pick up your dog’s poop and then dispose of it in either your trash can or a public trash can.
- this also means obey leash laws, not everyone wants your dog running through their yard, running after them, and/or jumping all over them or their dog(s).
What to Know Before the Canine Good Citizen Certificate Test
- There are ten tests.
- Tests are performed with your dog leashed.
- Collars may be buckle or slip made of leather, fabric or chain. Body harnesses may be used as long as they do not restrict the dogs movement.
- Training collars (pinch, electronic or head halters) are NOT allowed. While these items may be necessary for training, dogs ready for this test should be at the point where training devices are no longer needed.
- Bring your dog’s brush or comb to the test. Yes, you will need them for the test.
- You may praise or speak encouragingly to your dog during the test.
- You may pet your dog between the ten tests.
- Food, treats or toys are NOT permitted. While these items are great training tools, dogs ready for this test should be at the point where treats/toys are no longer needed.
- If your dog eliminates during testing, the test is failed. There is one exception, that is if the tenth test in the series is outside.
The Canine Good Citizen Test
This section names each of the tests as they are named on the AKC’s website, provides a description of what happens during the test, as well as what your dog must do to pass.
Test 1: Accepting a Friendly Stranger
During this test you are going to stand with your dog next to you. Canine Good Citizen evaluator is going to walk up to you, ignore your dog but greet you in a friendly way, speak with you for a few moments, shake your hand and walk away.
In order to pass this step, your dog must remain at your side and not show any signs of trying to get the attention of the evaluator nor show any signs of shyness, resentment or fear.
Test 2: Sitting Politely for Petting
During the second test, the evaluator is going to walk up to your dog and pet his/her head and body.
To pass this test your dog must remain in place during petting and must not show signs of resentment or shyness.
Test 3: Appearance and Grooming
Here’s the part that you brought your dog’s comb or brush with you.
The evaluator is going to look at your dog to see how clean and well groomed he/she is.
The evaluator is also looking to see if your dog is in good health, a healthy weight, and how alert he/she is.
During the test the evaluator will ask to brush your dog. The evaluator will also pick up each paw and take a look in both your dog’s ears.
The evaluator is looking to see how well-behaved your dog is during grooming and examinations by a vet. The test is also an indicator of the amount of care and responsibility, you, as the owner, have provided for your dog.
In order to pass this test your dog must be clean, healthy, well groomed and allow the evaluator to groom and inspect them.
Test 4: Out for a Walk (Walking on a Loose Lead)
This test measures how well you are at controlling your dog and how attentive your dog is to you. The test includes turning right, turning left and turning around with one stop in between.
In order to pass the test, your dog must respond to your movements and the direction in which you are traveling.
Test 5: Walking Through a Crowd
This test shows how well your dog is able to move politely by several (at least) three other pedestrians walking or standing close by.
While it is ok for your dog to show some interest in the others, in order to pass this test your dog must continue to walk with you without getting excited, trying to jump, becoming shy, resentful or fearful.
Test 6: Sit and Down on Command and Staying in Place
To pass this test your dog must sit on command and lay down on command. Additionally, you will be using the “stay” command to tell your dog to stay in one place while you walk away and then return.
To pass this test your dog must remain in “stay” until you give your release command.
Test 7: Coming When Called
First you will be giving your dog the “stay” or “wait” command. Second you will walk about ten feet away from your dog. Third you will be giving your dog the “come” command.
To pass the test, your dog must come to you when called.
Test 8: Reaction to Another Dog
This test is done with you and your dog and another handler and dog walking towards each other. When you reach each other, greet each other, talk for a few moments, shake hands and move on.
To pass, the dogs can only show casual interest in each other and neither dog can go towards the other or to the other handler.
Test 9: Reaction to Distraction
This test will show how your dog reacts to normal distracting situations such as: something dropping, something rolling by, a jogger running in front of your dog, etc.
Your dog may show some interest, may even be startled, but in order to pass the test, your dog must not panic, try to run away, become aggressive, or bark.
Test 10: Supervised Separation
This is the last test. It tests if your dog will behave and be well mannered when left with a trustworthy person. The evaluator will ask for your dog’s leash and then ask you to leave for about three minutes.
To pass the test your dog must not start barking, whining or pacing or show any other signs of being agitated or nervous. Mild agitation or nervousness is ok.