Preparing For AKC Canine Good Citizen Stage 3 & 4

 Preparing for AKC Canine Good Citizen

In Stefani Fortney’s last blog post, we took an in-depth look at the first two stages of the CGC test. This week, Stefani Fortney covers preparing for AKC Canine Good Citizen Stages 3 & 4. They cover areas that pet professionals, such as groomer and veterinarians, find to be two of the most useful skills for any dog to possess and master.




Preparing for AKC Canine Good Citizen Stage 3: Appearance and Grooming

The AKC’S description of this stage states:

“This practical test demonstrates that 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. It also demonstrates the owner’s care, concern and sense of responsibility. The evaluator inspects the dog to determine if it is clean and groomed. The dog must appear to be in healthy condition (i.e., proper weight, clean, healthy and alert). The handler should supply the comb or brush commonly used on the dog. The evaluator then softly combs or brushes the dog, and in a natural manner, lightly examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. It is not necessary for the dog to hold a specific position during the examination, and the handler may talk to the dog, praise it and give encouragement throughout.”

As a groomer, I can’t overstate how wonderful it is to have a dog come in for his or her grooming appointment and find that they have been well-prepared by their owner to tolerate the process. I know that veterinary staff members also enjoy their job much more when the dog they are examining is tolerant of the handling associated with a health check-up.

By using lots of treats, praise, and positive reinforcement to accustom your puppy to having their faces, ears, feet and bodies touched, you’ll decrease the amount of stress they (and the professionals who handle them) will feel. No one likes to bring their pet into a situation that obviously makes them feel insecure, frightened, or upset. By spending the time beforehand to socialize your dog to the handling they’ll experience, the entire process—from ear cleaning to brushing to nail trimming—can become one that your dog looks forward to.

Preparing for AKC Canine Good Citizen Stage 4: Out For A Walk (Walking On A Loose Lead)

For this stage, the CGC guidelines state:

“This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog may be on either side of the handler. The dog’s position should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to the handler’s movements and changes of direction. The dog need not be perfectly aligned with the handler and need not sit when the handler stops. The evaluator may use a pre-plotted course or may direct the handler/dog team by issuing instructions or commands. In either case, there should be a right turn, left turn, and an about turn with at least one stop in between and another at the end. The handler may talk to the dog along the way, praise the dog, or give commands in a normal tone of voice. The handler may sit the dog at the halts if desired.”

Stage 3 of preparing for AKC Canine Good Citizen test is where people start getting nervous. I don’t know about you but, when I first start teaching my dogs to walk on a loose lead, it seems like I’ll never be able to walk them without feeling like an out-of-control sled being pulled by a pack of demented Huskies through the final leg of the Iditarod. It’s frustrating, and there are tears and prayers and eye rolling. Sometimes, it feels as though in may be easier to just give up on walking Rover and just buy him a car, instead. [Tweet “Stage 3 of preparing for AKC Canine Good Citizen test is where people start getting nervous.”]

Keep working on it.

Use treats and praise and games of Red Light, Green Light and make U-turns until you’re dizzy. Nothing will ever feel as good as the moment when it clicks, and your dog finally realizes that you want him to walk next to you without dislocating your arm. You’ll want to throw a party. You’ll feel like a god among men. It’ll be worth the work. I promise.

Unless you want to compete in obedience or rally with your dog, it isn’t important for him to stay in a perfect heel. What you want is for your dog to go where and when you want to go and to stop when you want to stop… without pulling on his leash.

In my next blog, we’ll tackle the next two stages of the CGC. Until then, if you find yourself despairing that your pup will never have the manners to pass this test, give us a call at (405) 282-8796. We can make preparing for AKC Canine Good Citizen a personalized, one-on-one training program for your pup!

Check out the rest of the Canine Good Citizen Test series:


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