With the support of Best Friends Animal Society, Austin Pets Alive! began training adoptable dogs to pass the Canine Good Citizen, an obedience test designed by the American Kennel Club. These obedience tests consists of ten different real-world scenarios that demonstrate solid obedience training and general reliability. Dogs are tested by an AKC evaluator after a period of training, and after passing the ten tests they are eligible for the title of 'CGC Ready.' Once they achieve ‘CGC Ready,’ they have demonstrated when partnered with a responsible person, he or she possesses all the qualities of a well-trained and reliable pet.
Featured in the video is APA! Alumni, Sun. Sun was just one of many to join the program who started with a history of bad manners. Around other dogs, Sun would become highly reactive and lunge towards them. When people started to pet her, she would become severely aroused and hard mouth them. Through the training principles at Austin Pets Alive, Sun not only learned how to be appropriate on leash in the presence of other dogs, but also with people. She was able to pass the ten tests of the Canine Good Citizen with these new skills, and was adopted into her forever home shortly after.
Adopters of CGC Ready dogs will receive three free obedience sessions after the time of adoption to generalize their training with the members of their new home. Adopters also have the opportunity to obtain their Canine Good Citizen Certification through the Austin Pets Alive! Behavior Department.
The Ten Canine Good Citizen Tests
Test 1: Accepting a Friendly Stranger
This test shows whether or not a dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to its owner in a natural, everyday situation.
While the owner is spoken to by a test evaluator, the dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness, and must not break position (usually sitting) or try to go to the evaluator.
Test 2: Sitting politely for petting
The second test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to pet it while it is out with their owner. The dog may stand or sit in place as it is petted. The dog must not show shyness, over exuberance, or irritation.
Test 3: Appearance and grooming
This is a practical application test to demonstrate that the dog will welcome being groomed/examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian or groomer to do so. The test also shows the owner's care and concern for the well-being of their pet. The dog must appear clean, well-groomed, and in good general health.
The dog will be gently brushed and examined on the feet and ears.
Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
This test demonstrates that the owner is in control of the dog. The dog should be responding to any command given by their owner, like changing directions or stopping as needed.
Test 5: Walking through a crowd
This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and owner walk very close to at least 3 people during this test. The dog is allowed to show interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with the handler, without evidence of over-exhuberance, shyness, or aggitiation. The dog should not jump on people or pull on the leash.
Test 6: Sit, down on command, and staying in place
This test demonstrates that the dog has basic training, will respond to the owner's commands to sit and down and will remain in the place commanded by the owner (sit or down position, whichever is prefered). The dog must do sit AND down on command, then the owner chooses the position for leaving the dog in the stay. The dog must stay in the designated position until the owner commands it to move.
Test 7: Coming when called
This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by their owner. The owner will walk about 10 feet from the dog, turn to face it, and then call the dog by name.
Test 8: Reaction to another dog
This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two owners (or dog handlers) and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, and exchange pleasantries. They will then continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.
Test 9: Reaction to distraction
This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations. These situations may be dropping a chair or having someone run by. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity and/or may appear slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark.
Test 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. The owner will leave sight for at least 3 minutes while the dog is on leash with a test evaluator. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark or whine. The dog also should not show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness. Evaluators may talk to the dog while holding the leash but should not engage in excessive talking, petting, or management attempts (like saying “there, there, it’s alright.”)
APA!'s Canine Good Citizen Preparation Program has the ability to save hundreds of lives. Through training, diligence, and one-on-one care, dogs who would otherwise be the hardest to adopt -- or even euthanized in other cities -- are now becoming adoptable, highly trained pets. Please donate to our Dog Behavior Program to help our Team continue this life-saving work. If you are looking to adopt, please ask about this program when you stop by our Town Lake shelter!