Here’s Why “Canine Good Citizen” Matters For Your Dog


We all know dogs are the best in the world. I mean, every dog that has been in my life have been amazing, well behaved, and perfect. However, I didn’t have any way to prove it. Of course, since 1989, that doesn’t have to be the case. Now, owners can take their dogs and compete in a test to earn the Canine Good Citizen award for their dog.

In addition, did you know that many police and service dog organizations take the Good Canine Citizen test with their working dogs? It is a wonderful tool to assess the level of obedience the dog has.

What is the Canine Good Citizen?

The Canine Good Citizen is a training program where dogs and their owners work together to promote responsible dog ownership. The goal of training is for dogs to achieve their canine good citizen certificate (or CGC) by completing a number of tasks during a testing session.

Basically, it is to encourage training our dogs to be well-mannered canines. While it is through the American Kennel Club, the Canine Good Citizen is open to all dogs. Mixed breed dogs are encouraged to receive their title.

Which is wonderful because it continues to prove how amazing a mix breed dog is. Dogs can be from any type of background, including rescue backgrounds, and all they need to do is pass the thirty-minute test to receive it.

What is Involved in the Canine Good Citizen Test?

Getting the Canine Good Citizen test is a two-part test. Owners start by signing a responsible dog owner’s pledge. With this pledge, dog owners pledge that they will take care of their dog’s needs. This will include:

  • Healthcare
  • Safety
  • Excellent quality of life
  • Training

Once owners have signed the pledge, it is time to begin testing with your dog. Owners and their dogs complete 10 exercises successfully for completion. These exercises are:

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger
  2. Sitting politely for petting
  3. Appearance and grooming
  4. Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
  5. Walking through a crowd
  6. Sit down on command and staying in place
  7. Coming when called
  8. Reacting to another dog
  9. Reacting to distraction
  10. Supervised separation

When the exercises are completed, your dog and you are scored on how well you did. If you are successful, your dog receives his Canine Good Citizen.

Where is the Canine Good Citizen Test Offered?

The Canine Good Citizen has grown in popularity over the last thirty years and can be found throughout the world. Found in 34 different states, it is gaining popularity with dog owners everywhere. It is important to note that dogs do not have to be residents of the state to take the test. If it is not offered in your state, you can travel out of it for the test.

In addition to the testing in the US, the test is worldwide. Sometimes called the Canine Good Neighbor Test, such as in Canada, the testing is the same universally.

Therefore, if you are moving abroad or you live in a different country, your canine can get his test and have all the perks that come with the test. Some countries that offer the Canine Good Citizen test are:

  • England
  • Canada
  • Sweden
  • Finland
  • Hungary
  • Japan
  • Australia

What Are the Perks of Canine Good Citizen?

Perks vary depending on where you live and what you put into it. Obviously, the main perk is the ability to show that your dog is a well-behaved and conscientious canine citizen. However, the perks don’t stop there. Even businesses are becoming aware of the Canine Good Citizen Test and offering incentives for dogs who have taken it.

1) It is a Way to Bond With Your Dog

Training is a great way to bond with your dog and the Canine Good Citizen is no different. Dogs and owners learn to work together completing the tasks of the test.

Dogs love the interaction and the test itself can be a lot of fun. Nerve-wracking, but a lot of fun nonetheless.

2) Some Businesses Open the Door for Tested Dogs

Although this varies depending on where you live, some businesses are inviting dog with Canine Good Citizen certificates inside. This means that your dog can come with you to more places.

In addition, when you are out, your dog will shine as the great citizen he is.

3) Access to Some Apartments

An increasing amount of apartment buildings and rental properties are asking for dogs to have their Canine Good Citizen certificate before they can move in. If your dog has his certificate, it opens up more properties for you. That means that you have a better chance of getting the apartment you want.

Finally, when your dog has his Canine Good Citizen certificate, owners often save money on home insurance.

4) You Can Move On to Therapy Training

This isn’t necessary but therapy work is wonderful for the owner, dog, and everyone the dog visits. It is a great way to volunteer. While the canine good citizen certificate isn’t a therapy certificate, it is a foundation for your dog. Many therapy dog organizations ask for the certificate. In fact, the Therapy Dogs International uses the test to assess any potential dog.

5) Help Reduce Problems Due to BSL

Breed specific legislation is a problem that many dog owners face, whether you own a breed like a Pit Bull or not. While it doesn’t always prevent the breed discrimination, taking the test can minimize the headache dog owners can face because of BSL. The Canine Good Citizen Test goes a long way in proving that your beloved family pet isn’t dangerous. In fact, he is so wonderful that he passed a test saying just that.

For the most part, the biggest perk of the Canine Good Citizen is in the time you get to spend with your pooch.

Testing for the Canine Good Citizen?

Done training your dog? Take the test. If you aren’t sure how to train your dog for the Canine Good Citizen, there are many dog obedience schools that offer the specific training for the test. Depending on your area, testing is offered at a variety of places. Many dog shows and obedience trials offer canine good citizen testing year round.

For more information on where you can get your dog tested, check out this calendar of events.