Is Your Dog a Canine Good Citizen?

How do you know if your pet or service dog is safe to appear in public? You take your pooch through the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen or CGC test. Ten tests of temperament, manners and obedience determine whether your companion is worthy to add the prestigious CGC after its name. I'm writing about it here because it's part of the book I'm writing about how my guide dog and I came to be a team.

CGC is certainly not requreed, but I think any service dog should be able to pass it one she's been with her new handler for a while  My first 2 guide dogs, Thunder Skywalker and Molly Flagtail, were both CGCs.

I wanted my new dog to wear the tag and earn the proud title. When I got Jemma Flagtail at Leader Dogs, I felt incredibly excited that head trainer Jessica Bimmerman was a certified CGC tester.

cgc logo

Could My Guide Dog Pass the Canine Good Citizen Examination?

Since Jessica could administer the examination, I was determined to get my new dog ready to pass. Setting her up for success meant diligence on my part. Would we do it, or would my new guide dog flunk? After all, we were essentially strangers back then.Imagine you have a new dog whom you don't know well, and you have to  We met July 14th and would leave for home August 5th. That's only 3 weeks to get a dog to behave perfectly in trying circumstances.

Some of the ten tests were about basic commands like heel, sit and down. Those didn't worry me a bit. She had a good puppy raiser and plenty of work on her basic behaviors. We worked basic O as I called it every day. Still do.

This is a picture of Leader Dog Jemma lying on the floor at Walmart with 2 hedgehog toys beside her. I have just said, "Leae it" knowing she wants very badly to play with (and keep) the toy

I wasn't too concerned about her how she would act with other people and dogs approaching. all part of her training. If she had shown aggression, she would have been career changed. The biggest issue there was distraction. She would have to show no interest in another dog, which is not an easy feat for any canine. Lookie, no sniffy or touchy is what we needed.

It took more preparation to get her ready to stay with a friendly person while I left the room for 3 minutes. May not seem like a long time, but think of it this way. Jemma would often whine while I went into the bathroom to take a shower, and I'm pretty quick about it.

Practicing the out of sight stay meant I had to be within earshot so I'd know if she whined while being out of view. The dogs go through some pretty big changes by the time we new handlers get them, so they've lost their anchor when we're out of sight. For Jemma, she had a lot of anxiety and normally stuck to me like glue everywhere, even around our little hotel room sized bedroom.

So I needed to work out some activities that meant I left eyeshot. I started by leaving her in a sit-stay while I walked around the corner into the bathroom. She didn't like that very well most of the time, but I persisted and her strong desire to do what's right prevailed.

I also played a game which I called "Gimme My Meal." She had to sit on her mat without getting up. Meanwhile, I would go around 2 corners into the bathroom, pur her kibble into the bowl, wait an increasing amount of time, and return to her. Once I set down the bowl, she was not allowed to eat until I released her. If she broke, we started over.

I still expect the same manners here at home. She sits and waits, if impatiently, while I get her food. The only difference is I don't hang out by the food bag before coming back to her. I simply wait a varying amount of seconds before releasing her.

That's how we prepared for one of the tests in the Canine Good Citizen Examination. You'll read more about her adventures in her category here on this site and in the book I'm writing about our first adventures together.

Meet & Follow Leader Dog Jemma, CGC,  on the Social Web

Jemma is a busy dog. Not only is she my guide, toy reviewer and treat tester, but she also shares her adventures in her own voice on her own Facebook page and Instagram Feed.

Please share this all over the social web!

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Ronda Del Boccio

#1 best selling author, speaker, and Amazon Top Reviewer

About Ronda Del Boccio

Ronda Del Boccio is an award-winning and best Click for Member Home Pageselling author of both fiction and nonfiction. She tells transformational tales and helps visionary authors turn their dreams and imaginings into published books. See and order Ronda's books on Amazon.

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Congratulations to Jemma, CGC, for being a Leader Dog AND a Canine Good Citizen!