Canine Good Citizen Training for Every Dog

The American Kennel Club has a test called Canine Good Citizen or CGC. This testing is the start of the process for becoming a therapy dog and is an exam every dog should train to take and pass with flying colors.

Canine Good Citizen training

If you’re interested in having your dog become a therapy dog, here’s some information about the Canine Good Citizen test.


There are 10 testing evaluations that the American Kennel Club requires before a dog will be certified as a Canine Good Citizen. All of these tests are to be performed on a leash and collars should be well-fitting. Special training collars will not be permitted during testing.

Since 2010, evaluators now permit dogs to wear body harnesses rather than being tethered to a leash by a collar. The whole point of this test is to see that the dog has been trained, not that he is in the process of being trained.

The use of treats or squeaky toys during the test will not be permitted by owners but they may praise their dogs and encourage them throughout each of the tests.

Test #1

This first test helps an evaluator see how your dog will react to a friendly stranger coming up to talk with you. The evaluator is looking for signs of shyness or resentment.

Test #2

The evaluator will test your dog to see if she sits or stands politely and permits petting.

Test #3

This one is a grooming test and, so, you will want to have your dog’s brush with you. The person evaluating your dog will use her brush to softly care for her coat, will look in her ears and will also pick up her paws.

Test #4

This exam checks to see how well your dog does on a loose leash. As the handler, you will want to demonstrate that you are in control of the dog and not the other way around. Your dog should be attentive to what you’re looking for and you’ll be given a set of directions to follow.

Test #5

In this test, you will demonstrate how well your dog does walking through a crowd. It’s important to make sure she is polite with strangers in a crowd and also under control. While your dog can show interest in strangers, it’s important that she stays right with you without exhibiting any lunging or shyness.

Test #6

Sit, down and stay are tested in this portion. You will have to put your dog in a sit and a down on command and you can decide which one is more comfortable for your dog to stay.

When you are instructed to do so, you will walk away from your dog down the length of the 20 foot lead the evaluator has given you to use. Your dog must remain in place until you are instructed to release.

Test #7

This is the really reliable recall test to show that your dog will come when called.

Test #8

This test shows how well your dog behaves around other canines. Two owners and their dogs will approach each other, stop and shake hands and then move on. Neither dog should show more than a casual interest in the other.

Test #9

Canine confidence is the next step in this test. It tests how she reacts to distracting situations.

Test #10

Can your dog be trusted to maintain good manners when left with a friend or family member? That’s what this phase of the test examines.

Passing all of these portions will give you and your dog a Canine Good Citizen certificate and get you ready for therapy dog testing.

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