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CGC: Canine Good Citizens

If you are a follower of the Holiday Barn Pet Resorts Facebook page, I am sure you have seen many…

Denali, ga, 2017
If you are a follower of the Holiday Barn Pet Resorts Facebook page, I am sure you have seen many pictures of proud parents and their dogs displaying their gold and blue CGC certificates and/or ribbons. You may have wondered what that is all about, but never had an opportunity to ask. We are thrilled that you are interested in this amazing program!

Having its start in 1989, the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Program is one of the most rapidly growing programs in the American Kennel Club and is recognized as the “gold standard” for dog behavior. The program not only teaches “good manners” to dogs, but teaches responsible dog ownership to the parent. What many do not realize is that CGC resolutions have been passed by 42 state legislatures and the United States Senate, recognizing the importance of responsible dog ownership. Insurance companies are beginning to use the CGC to insure unfairly labeled “dangerous” breeds. Even some rental and HOA groups around the country now require that dogs who reside in their community carry the CGC title. Wow, those proud recipients pictured on our Facebook page really do have something to howl about, don’t they?

We are proud to inform you that our Holiday Barn Dog trainers are fully approved CGC evaluators… which means that you and your dog can obtain the training, evaluation, and the CGC title at either of our two facilities, Glen Allen or South of the James. All dogs are welcome to take part in the CGC program. There is no breed requirement and no age limit. As long as your pup has received all of its vaccinations, he/she is eligible to participate. Our trainers are equipped to making it all possible!


First, you will enroll your dog in our Dog Training program specifically designed to prepare you for the CGC. Then, in order to obtain the title, your dog must pass a 10-step test. With your participation, our Trainers will administer the test in our facility, and award the title. Your dog must master and be able to demonstrate the following 10 steps:

      • Allowing a friendly stranger to approach.


      • Sitting politely to allow a friendly stranger to pet him/her.


      • Permitting a groomer or veterinary to check his ears and front feet.


      • Walking properly on a loose leash with their owner.


      • Walking through a crowd politely and in control.


      • Mastering “Sit”, “Down”, and “Stay” on command.


      • Coming when called.


      • Behaving politely around other dogs.


      • Responding appropriately to distraction.


      • Proving that they can be left with a trusted person while maintaining training and good manners.


Sounds pretty tough, doesn’t it? The training and testing for a CGC definitely requires a commitment to time, and the dedication to see it through.


There are so many good reasons to have your dog train for a CGC. Not only does it lay the groundwork for other activities such as obedience, agility, and tracking, many therapy dog groups require passing the CGC before becoming a therapy dog. If you have no ambition to involve your dog in agility, therapy, etc., there are countless “everyday” benefits to having a CGC. Your dog will fit into your life so much more comfortably, living in harmony in your home, and well socialized, displaying good manners around other people and dogs. You can relax knowing your dog has been trained to respond appropriately to distractions and unknown circumstances. It’s what we all want as dog owners, right?


Some of you with young “whippersnappers” may be interested in the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy distinction, which is a great lead into the CGC program. This is a fairly new program designed to get new puppies off to a great start. The program is centered around the basics: good manners, communication and socialization. There is a 20-step test that deals with both puppy and owner behavior. Let’s face it, it’s hard to know the right thing to do when raising a pup. This dog training program will give you all the resources you need, a setting for which to share issues unique to puppies, and the practical skills needed to get you to that next level.


Here is more good news: With the achievement of the CGC Title, your dog has the opportunity to advance to an even higher level. There are two additional CGC available:

The Urban Canine

1) CGCU, the “Urban Canine” title, tests your dog’s skills in an urban setting. It is administered in a place where there are cars, sidewalks, noisy streets and many urban-type distractions.

To obtain a CGCU title, your dog must pass another more specific 10-step test:

      • Entering and exiting doorways without pulling.


      • Walking mannerly through a crowd on a busy sidewalk despite the distance of other people.


      • Displaying an appropriate reaction to normal city confusion, i.e., traffic noises, bikes, horns, etc..


      • Exhibiting control while crossing the street.


      • Ignoring food, bags, cups, etc. dropped on the sidewalk.


      • Allowing someone who may have a dog in a carrier, or some other type of bag, to walk up and pet them.


      • Walking obediently on any type of surface in a public building. Staying in a down position for 3 minutes in a lobby or other busy area while waiting on their owner.


      • Using stairs, steps and elevators properly, entering and exiting appropriately, as well as taking at least 3 steps up or down.


      • Evidence of proper housetraining.


    • Appropriate behavior in owner’s choice of transportation, car, subway, etc..


The Community Canine

2) CGCA, which is the “Community Canine” title is the most advanced level of the CGC program. The objective of the Community Canine is to test your dog’s proficiency in a more natural or “real” setting, i.e., at the mall, a pet store, or elsewhere in the community.

To obtain a CGCA title, your dog must again pass a 10-step test:

      • Waiting in any position (sitting, lying down, standing) while the owner is engaged in some other activity. For example, visiting with another person at the mall.


      • Walking on a loose leash in a “real” situation while displaying left and right turns, stopping fast, and walking at a slower pace.


      • Walking on a loose leash through a “real” crowd.


      • Walking with the distraction of other dogs without pulling.


      • Sitting and staying in a small group of people and dogs.


      • Allowing someone who is carrying an object to approach and pet them.


      • Following the command “Leave it” while walking by food.


      • Sit stay or down at a distance (from the owner).


      • Recall with distractions.


    • Entering and exiting a doorway or passage on leash in a controlled manner.



We would love to be able to help you help your dog become a welcomed and well-respected member of our community. Not only that, but working towards a CGC title is fun, engaging, and will greatly enhance the bond you and your pup share. Please contact our Dog Trainers and they will be happy to explain the programs in more detail. In Glen Allen, call Schylar and McKenzie at 672-2200, and on our Southside, call Dickie and Melaina at 794-5400. We look forward to working with you!

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