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CGN/CGC & Therapy Dog Testing

Gracie visiting

The Canine Good Citizen Program of the American Kennel Club and the Canine Good Neighbour Program of the Canadian Kennel Club test dogs to determine if they have sufficient training and appropriate temperament to be worthy of this designation, and to allow them to go on to become therapy visitation dogs at institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes. Once a dog and handler pass all the test's exercises, they may then register with Therapy Dogs International (TDI), a volunteer organization which, among other things, provides group insurance when dogs are visiting institutions. Therapy Dogs are intended to bring emotional comfort and support to people when separated from their own companion animals. Other therapy animals are used to bring physical therapy benefits as well. The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test exercies are: 1) Accepting a Friendly Stranger - tester pats dog while chatting with owner; 2) Sitting Politely for Petting - includes a friendly all-over, hands-on examination; 3) Appearance & Grooming - not only must the dog be well groomed, but must allow tester to brush them and examine their feet, ears well; 4) Walking On a Loose Leash - not necessarily in Heel position, including a Left, Right, About Turn and a Halt (automatic sit not required); 5) Walking Through a Crowd - some of whom have service equipment eg. wheelchair or crutches, keeping the dog in control, showing some interest in the crowd but neither shyness nor overexhberance; 6) Sit & Down On Command, Staying in Place - shows that the dog will respond to these commands, the Stay is brief; 7) Praise/Interaction, Calming -shows that the dog can be calmed and brought back under control after an animated encounter; 8) Reaction to Another Dog - showing some interest but remaining in control of his owner; 9) Reaction to Distractions - the dog may startle and recover, but shyness/fear/flight are unacceptable;this exercise now includes a 'Leave It' exercise where the dog os walked by food on the floor; 10) Supervised Isolation - simulating being left with another person, excessive whining/pacing/stress are unacceptable.
The Canadian Kennel Club now has its own Canine Good Neighbour program; the test is based directly on the CGC test ands the exercises are almost identical with a few exceptions,for example service equipment is not used in the CGN.

Visiting hospitals or other institutions with your dog is an extremely rewarding volunteer activity, bringing joy into the lives of those who cannot be with their own companion animals. It is a wonderful way for dog owners to contribute to their community.....once your dog has his CGC/CGN, then inquire at a local branch of St. John's Ambulance or ask a local hospital or nursing home if they have an existing visitation program, contact them and join up.

Leslie Grant
 Eastern Ontario, Canada