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A Guide To Earning Your Puppy's Canine Good Citizens Certificate

Remember the thrill of receiving that certificate after an obedience course finished? If your puppy has gone all the way through basic obedience classes, you may wonder what new challenge you two can try. Earning a Canine Good Citizens certificate offers new and exciting commands and lessons and gives your puppy a chance to work in such jobs as being a therapy dog. The AKC determines the criteria for a CGC certificate and the goal is to reward dogs who have good manners at home and in the community.

A good way to determine if your puppy is ready to go on the a CGC certificate is to note his ability to perform the basic obedience commands. If he is consistent and maybe a bit bored then he is likely ready. Other traits to look for include alertness, responsiveness, a calm demeanor, and comfort with multiple handlers.

You can train your puppy yourself prior to a CGC test or there are classes on the subject. Whichever you choose, knowing what is tested can be very helpful.

The 10-Step Test for Becoming a Canine Good Citizen

  1. Accepting a Friendly Stranger - This shows that a stranger can approach the owner and dog without the dog reacting.

  2. Polite Sitting for Petting - This demonstrates that a dog will allow a stranger to touch it.

  3. Being Well Groomed - This shows that the owner is aware of their responsibilities to their dog.

  4. Walking on a Loose Lead - This demonstrates that an owner is in control.

  5. Walking Through a Crowd - This shows that the dog can keep calm and move politely with many people around.

  6. Staying - This demonstrates that the dog has had obedience training.

  7. Coming When Called - This also demonstrates training.

  8. Reacting to Other Dogs - This shows that the owner can maintain control and that the dog will react politely to other dogs.

  9. Reacting to Distracting - This shows that the dog can remain calm with distractions such as loud noise.

  10. Trusting Other Humans - This demonstrates that the dog can have good manners even if left with a stranger.

A CGC certificate is beneficial in everyday life. A dog with this certificate can often go more places then less-educated canines. For instance, a CGC dog is sometimes allowed more privileges in public places. And, if you ever need to convince a landlord to let you have your puppy, the certificate can work wonders.

Becoming a Canine Good Citizen is probably not high on your pup's priorities (although dinnertime is) but it offers another chance for you to assert your role as alpha, for your puppy to have some work to do, and to get yet another certificate to frame.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

Puppies Eat Less When They are Teething

When my dog was teething his appetite decreased quite a bit. Our vet recommended adding water to his food to soften it up, which worked great. He did not recommend that we do that all the time because the hard food helps their dental hygiene. That worked for us! Ice cubes and toys in the freezer also helped (i.e. water down a rope toy and freeze).

~TALIE D., owner of Labrador Retriever

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