Behavior Mod.

Get Your Dog A Good Citizen Certification

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Would you like to do something really cool for your dog as well as yourself? We all would! How about this: Get Your Dog a Good Citizen Cerification. Personally, I was not aware owners of dogs could do something like this but I find the concept very interesting. Awarded by the American Kennel Club (AKC), this certification is for purebreds as well as mixed breeds.

Note that the AKC does not certify therapy dogs, if you are interested in your dog becoming one. However, keep in mind what they say in the following excerpt on the site:

While the AKC does not certify therapy dogs, we are very proud that so many CGC dogs and their owners volunteer their time to improve the lives of other people. There are national therapy dog groups (and in some cities local groups) that certify therapy dogs. Therapy Dogs International (TDI) uses the AKC Canine Good Citizen test as a key component of its therapy dog assessment.

Get Your Dog A Good Citizen Certification

Before everyone gets all excited there are a few rules and a test your dog must pass.  We have these requirements listed below.

1)    Your dog must appear in a well groomed condition and not be wearing any type of correction collar such as an electric shock or pinch style.

2)    The dog must sit in a calm and relaxed manner while the examiner brushes the dog’s coat, as well as while being petted by the examiner.

3)    Your dog must walk while on a leash without any pulling as well as doing the same while walking through a group of people. These people will do normal things a dog might find attention getting, but the dog must not shy away nor be aggressive towards this group.

4)    The examiner will come to greet you and shake your hand. Your dog must be comfortable with this approach of his owner by a stranger without becoming aggressive or shy. No jumping is allowed!

5)    Your dog must sit and lie down on your command. More than one command is allowed. Next you will tell the dog to stay while you walk approximately 25 feet away. The dog must stay until you give the command for him or her to come to you.

6)    Two of the major tests of this examination that many dogs fail is the ability to be playful with you, even becoming excited, and then quickly calm down when play time is over. The second is when another person with a strange dog approaches you with their dog on a leash. The dog must not become aggressive, shy, nor become over friendly with the other dog nor its owner.

7)     Lastly you will be asked to secure your dog to an object while on his or her leash, and walk out of sight of the dog for roughly 3 minutes. The dog will be watched by the examiner during this brief period to observe its reaction. The dog must not begin pulling at the leash, whining, barking, or show other signs of panic. The dog is allowed to calmly walk around during this test.

Congratulations if your dog has passed! Now he or she will be awarded the Get Your Dog a Good Citizen Cerification award.

Has your dog received this award? Share the process with our readers below.

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  1. Avatar Of Sandy Miller

    Sandy Miller


    I am a Dog Behaviorist and Obedience Trainer. I would like to become a Certified Pet Therapy Dog Trainer. Many of my clients want to be able to take their dogs to Retirement homes and hospitals. Can you send me in the right direction? Thank you. Sandy Miller

  2. Avatar Of Patrizia Reyes



    Hola…I Just got a New Dog…12~17~2012…TIMMY is a Maltichon 2 yo…His Previous Owners…Put TIMMY & His Mom in Doggy Daycare…They also Stated,that TIMMY, has Seperation Anxiety…My Question??? I would Like some Info…How can my Dog???Be a Service Dog??? I Read that…If He is My Emotional Support Dog…He does`nt have 2 Be Trained for that…I Take TIMMY Everywhere I can…I Don`t Like Leaving TIMMY @ Home…So if You Can Please Send ME…Sum Info…I Appreciate It…He also Lunges @ People & Other Dogs…I Know with the Right Training…TIMMY…will Pass All the Tests

    • Avatar Of Renee




      I’m so glad to hear that you and Timmy are so inseperable. However, for Timmy to be allowed into any store, he has to be certified to be a service dog, even if he is an emotional support dog. He has to be judged to be safe to interact with the public, and that only comes through certification. One of the things you’re going to have to do before that certification can happen is stop him from lunging at people and other dogs. You may be able to find a reputable trainer in your area. We had the same problems with my daughter’s dog when he was a puppy and took him through obedience classes offered at one of the local doggy daycares. The course ran six weeks and cost about $100 USD, but it was well worth it. They can also help guide you into how to get Timmy certified to go with you into all the various stores, not just the doggy friendly ones.

      I wish you both the best of luck in your endeavors!

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