Do you have a friendly, well-mannered pooch? Make it official by passing the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen test, which will be offered from 1 to 3 p.m. March 5 during the Hilton Head Island Kennel Club's 15th annual AKC approved All Breed Dog Show. Participants going for their certification must register ringside by 12:30 a.m.
The test recognizes dogs who show good manners at home and in the community. Some therapy dog groups require passing the CGC test as a prerequisite, some insurance companies recommend CGC training, and an increasing number of apartments and condos require certification, as well.
The CGC test consists of 10 skills needed by all well-mannered dogs. All of the exercises are done on a leash. With a little practice, you and your dog will be ready to do the test March 5. If you need more time, you can find local evaluators and testing sites at www.akc.org/events/cgc/cgc_bystate.cfm.
Here are the 10 skills your dog must master to pass the CGC test:
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1. Accepting a friendly stranger. The dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation.
2. Sitting politely for petting. The dog will allow a friendly stranger to pet it while it is out with its handler.
3. Appearance and grooming. The dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so.
4. Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead). The handler/dog team will take a short "walk" to show that the dog is in control while walking on a leash.
5. Walking through a crowd. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people to demonstrate that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places.
6. Sit and down on command and staying in place. The dog will respond to the handler's commands to sit and down, and will remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers).
7. Coming when called. The dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog.
8. Reaction to another dog. To demonstrate that the dog can behave politely around other dogs, two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet.
9. Reaction to distraction. To demonstrate the dog is confident when faced with common distracting situations, the evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane.
10. Supervised separation. This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, "Would you like me to watch your dog?" and then take hold of the dog's leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes.
You'll need to bring your dog's brush or comb to the CGC test. Your dog must wear a buckle collar or slip collar.