Canine Good Citizen Training: Preparing Your Dog

Is it worthwhile for your dog to go through the process of Canine Good Citizen training? It’s not like your pooch is going to hang his certificate on the wall (well, probably not). But there are actually many worthwhile reasons to get this certification.

Started by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1989, the Canine Good Citizen evaluation is a test that demonstrates that your pet is well behaved among both people and other dogs. It also includes your pledge that you will be a responsible dog owner. The credential can be helpful if you are dealing with a wary landlord, neighbor, or even insurance company, particularly if your dog is a breed that faces restrictions.

Using Canine Good Citizen Training to Prep Your Pup

You and your dog will need to prepare for the Canine Good Citizen test. It’s not a good idea to just sign up and hope for the best. Working with a trusted dog trainer is a smart way to get your dog ready to take the exam. Knowledgeable trainers like the ones you’ll find here at Fon Jon can help with the kinds of behaviors tested by the AKC, as well as the basics of obedience training.

What You Need to Know

The Canine Good Citizen test is made up of 10 parts, and it’s helpful to know what you’re dog will be tested on prior so you know what to focus on during Canine Good Citizen training. When preparing your dog, you should focus on the following:

  • Remain calm when a stranger approaches you and talks to you.
  • Remain calm when pet by a stranger.
  • Cooperate when being handled in a way similar to how a groomer or veterinarian would handle him for grooming or an exam. 
  • Walk on a loose leash without pulling or lunging.
  • Remain calm while walking through a crowd on a loose leash
  • React to the commands sit, down, and stay.
  • Return to you when called.
  • Remain calm when another dog and handler approach you.
  • Remain calm even when there are distractions such as loud noises.
  • Remain calm when you hand his leash to someone else and walk away.

During the exam, you’ll be allowed to pet and talk to your dog, but you can’t use food or toys to reward or encourage him to listen to commands or behave. If a dog has a housetraining accident, barks, growls, or snaps during the test, he will automatically fail.

canine good citizen training

Puppies and Canine Good Citizen Training

The Canine Good Citizen test doesn’t have a minimum age requirement, but because a dog’s temperament changes as he gets older, the AKC recommends that dogs be retested as adults, even if they passed as a puppy. However, it’s never too early to begin Canine Good Citizen training!

When getting a puppy ready for the Canine Good Citizen test, socialization is a good place to start. Because the test focuses most on how your dog responds to other animals and other people, getting your puppy used to being around and being handled by others will make them more likely to successfully pass the exam.

Getting your puppy into a basic obedience class (like the puppy training Fon Jon provides) will also play a role in Canine Good Citizen training by teaching them to listen to commands like sit, down, stay, and recall, which the CGC tests.

Basic Obedience and Staying Calm

Working on basic obedience is a great place to start when starting the Canine Good Citizen training process. One of the commands you should start with is “look”. Getting this command down will help you be sure that you’ll be able to keep your dog’s attention no matter the environment. This command will also be very helpful in keeping your dog calm when he interacts with other dogs or strangers.

Here are some tips for training your dog to stay calm around other people and animals:

  • When your dog is around another person or dog, give him the “look” command and reward him when he’s able to keep his attention focused on you rather than the person or dog.
  • While another person and/or dog approaches you, work on making sure your dog stays focused on you.
  • As they come closer, if your dog becomes reactive or excited, move back a bit and begin the process again.

If you remain patient and consistent in your Canine Good Citizen training, your dog will be comfortable with other people and animals in no time!

canine good citizen training

Fixing Issues with Canine Good Citizen Training

Remember, if your dog doesn’t pass the Canine Good Citizen test the first time, you can always work on the issues he had and try again at a later date! If this is the case for your dog, enrolling him in a Canine Good Citizen training course like what we provide here at Fon Jon Pet Care will help him be successful next time. Fon Jon Pet Care’s dog trainers are even certified as Canine Good Citizen evaluators, so we know exactly how to prepare your dog for his exam.

Fon Jon Pet Care is Here to Help!

While it’s possible to get your dog ready for the Canine Good Citizen test at home, the best way to make sure your dog is ready is to team up with a good trainer and practice the tasks required prior to evaluation. Yes, it’s test prep for dogs—and it works!

If you’re interested in reliable and professional Canine Good Citizen training in San Diego, make an appointment with us! Just give us a call at (858) 490-2117, send us an email at, or visit our website to make an appointment. We’re always here to help!