One of the main goals of the Canine Good Citizen test is to demonstrate that the handler is in control of the dog under conditions likely to be encountered on an almost daily basis, such as people and dogs engaged in a variety of activities. You will have to demonstrate that your pet responds to the basic commands of Sit and Heel in real-life settings. These conditions are distractions, and five of the ten tests for the Canine Good Citizen involve the dog’s reaction to a distraction.
1. Accepting a friendly stranger – requires the dog to allow a stranger to approach the dog’s owner. The evaluator walks up to the dog and owner and greets the owner in a friendly manner, ignoring the dog. They shake hands and exchange pleasantries, during which the dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness, and must not break position to try to go to the evaluator.
2. Sitting politely/or petting – demonstrates that the dog will allow the approach of a stranger and permit petting. With the dog sitting at the owner’s left side throughout the test, the evaluator approaches and pets the dog on the head and body only. The dog must not show shyness or resentment, and the evaluator then circles the dog and owner.
3. Appearance and grooming – requires that the dog can be groomed and examined by a stranger, such as a veterinarian. The evaluator does an examination to determine if the dog is clean and groomed. The dog must appear to be in healthy condition, including the proper weight.
This particular test demonstrates the owner’s care, concern and responsibility for the dog. The evaluator then easily combs or brushes the dog to illustrate the dog’s willingness to be groomed and permit someone other than the owner to do so. In a natural and light manner, the evaluator also examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. For some reason, many dogs have difficulty with this exercise, and you may have to spend a little extra time getting him used to having his feet handled.
4. Walking through a crowd – requires the dog and owner to walk around and close to several persons-at least three, one of whom may have a dog demonstrating that the dog is conditioned to behave at all times and is under control in public places. The dog may show some interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with the owner without evidence of exuberance, shyness or resentment. The dog should not be straining at the leash.
5. Reaction to another dog – requires a demonstration of proper behavior in the presence of other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about ten yards, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on about five yards. This is another potentially difficult exercise – many dogs want to say “hello” to the other dog, which is not permitted. Short of practicing with other dogs, a solid Sit-Stay should see you through this exercise successfully.