My Canine Good Citizen Class just wrapped up this past Sunday. Most of the dogs will be taking the CGC Test this coming Sunday. More than likely, some will pass and some will not. Does that mean those who pass are good canine citizens, and those who do not are not? I guess that depends on how you define a good citizen.

The test items for the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test (click the link for more details) are as follows:

1. Accepting a friendly stranger.

2. Sitting politely for petting.

3. Appearance and grooming.

4. Out for a walk (walking on a loose leash).

5. Walking through a crowd.

6. Sit and down on command and staying in place.

7. Coming when called.

8. Reaction to another dog.

9. Reaction to distraction.

10. Supervised separation.

I have seen plenty of dogs who have passed the test that I would not consider to be model citizens. I have seen others who have not passed the test, but in most respects I would consider to be model citizens. As with any test of this sort, it is a snapshot of that moment in time. If testing occurs in an indoor space, especially a training space where the dogs have been working for several weeks and no real access to the public – and all of the unpredictable possibilities that come with being in a public space – then I would say it really isn’t an accurate test.

It also depends on who is doing the testing. For my classes, I always have an outside evaluator come in and test the dogs from my class. There are some instructors who test their own classes. That’s really not an accurate test. There are some evaluators who pass things they should not. There are others who do not pass some dogs who should pass. So, is it an accurate test of whether a dog is a good or model citizen? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

If you were going to create your own model citizen test for dogs, what items would you include or exclude? Do you think these test items are a good test of polite behavior and responsiveness to the handler? I think it’s a good start, but we could do better. Perhaps with different levels as well for dogs to progress. I’m interested to hear your thoughts!