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My Canine Success Story: Conquering the AKC CGC Journey Together




Embarking on our path to the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification was an exciting adventure for me and Thor. Our training became testament to the strong bond we have and showcasing my dog’s good behavior and social skills. In this blog, I’ll take you through our personal experience in preparing for the AKC CGC evaluation, sharing tips, our challenges, and the joyous moments that came along the way.


Let’s understand what the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program is. The AKC CGC stands for the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Title program, this program is designed to recognize dogs who have good manners at home and throughout the community. It also certifies that the dog has passed a series of tests that assess their behavior and obedience in various situations.


AKC CGC evaluation is open to all dogs–purebred and mixed breed. There are no age minimums or limits for participating in the Canine Good Citizen program, because yes, you can always teach an old dog new tricks! (To learn more about the AKC CGC Program click here: https://www.akc.org/products-services/training-programs/canine-good-citizen/ )


The training process serves as a foundation for instilling good behavior in your dog and by achieving CGC certification, your dog has to demonstrate not only obedience, but also has to have a well-rounded temperament. This makes your dog more enjoyable and safe in various environments.


A dog with CGC training is more likely to be accepted in public spaces, parks, and other social settings, contributing to positive interactions between dogs and people.


Upon learning that the AKC CGC was used as part of public access testing for our Service Dogs in Training, this encouraged me to make it a goal to get Thor his CGC, Besides I needed Thor to reliably respond to my commands which enhances our safety in public, ensuring that I have better control in potentially challenging situations. This prevents accidents or conflicts, which is also responsible dog ownership while strengthening our human-canine relationship.



I registered Thor for our CGC prep class. It wasn’t always easy, because at the same time Thor started to pull me towards people that he wanted to meet, and our daily walks became a bigger challenge. At one point I wanted to quit our class and when I happened to mentioned it to our training instructor she told me to “take out all my emotion from our training and train the dog in front of me”.  At the moment I didn’t understand her much, but as I saw her work with my dog and he happily respond to her by making great choices in class, I took her advice. Our training continued and I challenged my dog in all the areas where I felt more challenged.


We seamlessly integrated our CGC training into our daily routine. We began training in areas that were noisy and busy, I would approach strangers at the park and ask if they would pet my dog. At first I stumbled across people who wanted to give me dog commands before petting him, which was not what I wanted and started to become aware of the way I approached my “friendly-strangers”. Instead of asking, “would you pet my dog” I would ask, “would you help me train my dog that he has to Stay in a sit for you to pet him, and only when he is sitting you can approach and pet?” That was my game changer, Thor then started to understand that SIT/STAY = PETS and when people walked away I highly reinforced staying with me and engaging with me, the reward was in the form of praising him and giving him meaningful pets in reinforcing touch zones. I wouldn’t use as many treats because you cannot have treats on your person or in the evaluation area during the AKC CGC evaluation. My main goal was to teach my dog to focus on me and work with me, because training is rewarding to him. I stayed consistent in our training and made sure that I was laughing and having fun, so that my dog was also enjoying our training.


I have to admit dog training comes with challenges and sometimes tears, it’s not easy when you both speak different languages, but when you realize that if you’re just quiet your dog will listen and you start talking your dog’s language. My mistake was that I talked too much. For example, when I was training my dog to Sit/Stay until released, I would continue to say “stay” with every step I took away from him, then I would stop midway and turn around to make sure he was still staying in the sit. (admit it, you do that too, we all do it! 😉)


How was my dog supposed to process what STAY means if I was on repeat mode and then turning around, which invites your dog into your space if you’re walking backwards while facing your dog. I really did that and didn’t understand why my dog would break his Sit/Stay. Once I understood that I was sending my dog mixed signals, I was able to correct the way I was training and Thor started to master his skills.


The Big Day, our AKC CGC Evaluation! Upon arrival, I was given a form to fill out. I needed Thor’s AKC number, but I was told that he didn’t need to have one if I didn’t want him to receive CGC title. You are given a choice to receive your CGC certificate or you can get your dog’s CGC title using their registered AKC number. A few minutes later all the dog handlers and their dogs were called in to evaluate test item “walking through a crowd” and were told that we had to walk by each dog, my heart started to race, nerves kicked it, although Thor stopped pulling me towards other dogs a couple of weeks prior, I was always anticipating to get pulled.  Then I hear “Exercise finish, exit the ring.” Phew! He did it! At least that part, I was so relieved when we passed all test items of our evaluation.

My AKC Evaluator was such a helpful trainer. Her training tips and pushing us to train through our challenges helped make us understand how dogs learn. She always reminded us not to compare our milestones to others, as all dogs are individuals who learn differently from the other.


Passing the AKC CGC pushed me to continue to train with my dog further, we enjoy practicing for Rally Obedience trials and have tiled in AKC RALLY OBEDIENCE -INTERMEDIATE Level and have earned our first leg in Novice Obedience. Each training session I have with my dog strengthens the relationship we have.


Continuing to train with my dog encouraged me to help others prepare for their AKC CGC evaluation! I became a certified AKC CGC Evaluator a couple of years after and have since been helping others train towards and achieving their AKC CGC certification goals.


Our next CGC Prep class starts soon and we hope this blog motivates you to pursue your dog’s CGC certification/title and fostering a community of responsible, well-behaved canine companions. Click HERE to learn more about or to register your dog in our next CGC Prep Class.  



HAPPY TRAINING!

Animal House Academy, llc

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