If there’s one dog training program that your Pitbull should attend, it’s the AKC Canine Good Citizen Dog Training. This is the gold standard of obedience training before you subject your dog to intermediate dog training curriculum.
For dog owners who want to teach their doggo obedience, AKC has a tried and tested program that works for all purebred and mixed-breed dogs. But before you enroll in your doggo, here are some things you need to know?
The AKC and the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Program
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If you don’t know it yet, AKC or American Kennel Club is the largest and most trusted dog breed registry that also hosts various events and competitions for dogs. AKC has been founded in 1884 and has the goal to protect the welfare of dogs by promoting responsible ownership.
One of their programs is the Canine Good Citizen where enrollee dogs are taught basic obedience so it will grow to be more disciplined and well-rounded canines.
It’s a two-part program that seeks to prepare the dog in the 10-step CFC at the end. If the dog passes, it will receive a certification from the AKC. This certificate is sometimes required by landlords and other places where the owner will bring the dog.
Also, most providers of intermediate dog training curriculum will ask for the AKC certification as proof that your dog has solid foundational training. As much as other dog schools can issue their own legitimate certificates, nothing beats the credibility of having one from AKC.
For more information, here’s a video about the Canine Good Citizen program:
Benefits of Canine Good Citizen Program
The Canine Good Citizen certification is a good way to dampen breed discrimination. This is very true for Pitbulls that are commonly labeled as dangerous and vicious.
It will not make your doggo a genius, but it will surely transform the pooch into a well-mannered pet. Who doesn’t want that? Besides, your dog will be handled by the most esteemed trainers straight from AKC.
Here are some benefits:
1. Some apartments require this certificate
When it comes to rental accommodation, some landlords will only allow you to own a dog if it has an AKC CGC certificate. This is true for large breeds and those that are discriminated by BSL.
2. It’s the first step to other training
Do you want to make your Pittie a support dog? How about a service dog? Before you can enroll the pooch to these programs, you first have to furnish a CGC certificate from the AKC. As you see, even major dog training institutions recognize AKC’s program.
Regardless if you’re planning to enroll in dog training advanced commands, this training is imperative for all canines.
3. It will train your dog
Above all benefits, the Canine Good Citizen is a must because it’s a well-structured and proven method to train dogs for obedience and other tasks. No other program can beat AKC’s knowledge about handling dogs and socializing them at the same time.
This is like hitting many birds with one stone: your Pitbull will learn how to become obedient, it will get used to social settings, and you will have fun as the owner. This is important before entertaining intermediate dog training curriculum.
4. It will involve you as the dog owner
Your dog won’t be the only one to learn in the CGC program. You will also be part of the process which will boost the bond between you and your dog.
Also, dog owners will be taught about responsible ownership and how to raise a healthy and happy doggo. It’s like a crash course for all dog owners.
5. It will prepare your dog for the outdoors
If you plan to travel with your Pitbull, the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program will prepare them for the experience. Here, they will learn to mingle with other people and dogs.
I can go on and on with the benefits of the AKC program for your dog. If you’re looking for a dog school, never miss what AKC can offer.
Who can participate in the program?
All dogs can join! There’s no age limit in the CGC. As long as your Pittie has received all its shots, including rabies shots, it’s qualified to join. The program is open to all purebred and mixed-breed canines.
AKC believes that it’s never too late for dogs to learn. With this, even a senior canine – as long as it’s in good health – can participate.
However, there can be exceptions to this rule. For example, if the CGC training is offered during a show, the age limit for the event will be followed. Also, the participation for the training will depend on which breeds are allowed for such a trial.
Just take note that if you enroll your pup and it passed the test, it would need to be re-tested after a few years. The AKC emphasizes that dog behavior can change as it grows old. So to make sure that their knowledge is intact, a re-test or re-training will be conducted if need be.
This might also be needed before starting an intermediate dog training curriculum.
Here’s a quick background on how the training will go:
How to get started
Once your dog is old enough to join the Canine Good Citizen Program, you will be asked to sign the Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge. This includes your responsibility in protecting your dog’s health and upholding its welfare. It also includes cleaning up the dog in public and preventing the dog from stepping into the rights of others.
After this, expect that there will be a veterinarian that will work with you during the CGC training. This is to ensure that the dogs will be in good shape at all times.
During the training, you will be tasked to accompany and join your dog on drills and tests. The entire program will be led and handled by the AKC staff.
How much does the training cost?
There are two different fees that you’ll have to pay depending on your preference.
If you want your dog to use the CGC title, the processing fee would be $20. With this, you’ll get the CGC certificate and you’re free to use the CGC suffix on your dog’s name. However, you also need to ensure that your dog is listed on AKC.
The other one is the CGC certificate. This is very affordable at $10. After your dog passed the CGC Test, it will be issued with a certificate proving that it aced the 10 test items.
Aside from this, there are other CGC products that you can purchase from AKC.
Your responsibility as the pet owner
During the training, you’re expected to be beside your dog. As the owner, you will be there to accompany your dog and take part in the process. The CGC isn’t just sending your dog to a school then waiting for it to come home all smart and clever. It’s also not the easy solution for dog training advanced commands.
AKC sees to it that owners will be included in the program. Since the organization promotes responsible ownership, this makes perfect sense.
Also, I recommend that you read the Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge that you will sign before the training begins. It includes all your duties as the hooman.
How to prepare your dog for the CGC
Even if CGC is a benchmark training program, it’s not the instant fix for all your dogs’ behavioral problems. You still have to give them some head start to ensure that the training will go smoothly.
The Canine Good Citizen is a training program but you need to ensure that you teach your dog the following skills prior to the CGC:
1. Listening to you
The CGC program won’t work its magic if your dog doesn’t listen to you. Make sure that you teach him simple cues like calling its name, looking at you, or watching you do something. By all means, you should have control over your dog’s general behavior.
2. Letting the dog know that he does something correctly
Pitbulls have a natural affinity to please their owners. So before you enroll it to CGC, make sure that you let him know whenever he does something right. Say the word “Yes” or “Good boy/girl” so the dog will associate it with a rewarding feeling.
This will help when it’s time for your dog to perform some drills in the Canine Good Citizen program.
3. Keep the dog in shape
Before heading to the training, make sure that your dog is in good health. Pay the vet a visit so the dog doctor can rule out any risk should you join the program. Also, I recommend that you socialize your doggo ahead. As much as AKC is a good platform for this, early socialization will save you from the hassle.
The CGC Test
Once the training is finished, your dog will undergo the so-called CGC test. This will put your doggo’s knowledge to the test of whether it actually learned over the course of the training.
To give you an idea, here are the 10 steps your dog has to undergo to secure the coveted AKC certification:
Test 1: Accepting and responding to a friendly stranger
If your Pitty is a natural sweetheart, it would definitely ace this part. A non-provocative person will be asked to approach the handler and the dog in a casual and friendly way. The person and the handler will talk and shake hands. During this short encounter, the pooch shouldn’t show any signs of aggression or negative response.
Test 2: Sitting properly for petting
The doggo should sit beside its handler so the evaluator can pet him. During this part, the dog shouldn’t show shyness or aggression while keeping still during the petting.
Test 3: Grooming
Your dog shouldn’t show any negative reaction when handled by a vet or groomer. Most importantly, this is your time to shine. Your dog should be clean and healthy plus you should know how to groom the pet.
Test 4: Walking on a leash
This part will examine your dog’s discipline and your ability to control the pet during walking. The dog should follow accordingly in every turn without tugging or losing its focus.
Test 5: Walking on a crowd
Most dogs will show resentment when placed in the middle of a crowd. You will walk your dog while numerous people move around you. This will simulate pedestrian crossing and traffic. The dog may show interest to other people but it should still follow the handler.
Test 6: Sit, down, and stay command
This part will test your dog’s response to commands like sitting and staying. There would be different drills here including leashing and pacing. Your dog should be able to respond right on time.
Test 7: Coming when the name is called
You will stand 10 feet away from your pooch and you will call your pet’s name. As the owner, you can use other encouragements for the dog to come.
Test 8: Reacting to another dog
This part is critical for the Pitbull breed. As you know, these doggos don’t like close encounters with other canines, especially of the same sex. Your pooch should show casual interest to the other dog but not aggression.
Test 9: Distraction reaction
To check your dog’s focus and discipline, the evaluator will use two distractions like dropping a chair or having someone run in front of the canine. Your dog shouldn’t panic, run away, or become aggressive. It’s totally fine that the doggo will show interest and curiosity but no more than that.
Test 10: Separation from the handler
This part will test if your dog can be left to a trusted person. You will hand the dog’s leash to another person and you’ll be out of your dog’s sight for three minutes. During this part, the dog shouldn’t bark, whine, or tug excessively.
Here’s a sample test with the newly adopted dog Teancum and its handler Mikayla:
Once your dog aced all these tests, it will be given an AKC Canine Good Citizen Certificate. And as the owner, you should be proud of your amazing doggo. This just proves that even Pitbulls can learn to behave well just like any other breed.
After this, your pooch might be ready for intermediate dog training curriculum.