Is Honey a Canine Good Citizen?

Golden Retriever admiring Cape May hotels

I just thought i was posing for a boring picture. I didn’t know we were practicing for a test.

The date is set.

Honey will be evaluated as a Canine Good Citizen on Sunday, October 21. To pass, we must accomplish the ten CGC test items.

Most mornings we take advantage of nearby high-distraction locales (the elementary school, coffee shop, park) to practice loose leash walking, stay, and calm behavior around strangers and their dogs.

Honey is a superstar.

Hope for the Best

Upon hearing the cue “by me,” she matches her pace to mine and walks calmly by my side. When I say “with me,” she sits quietly as people walk by with their dogs. And a quiet “leave it” will convince her to pass a squirrel, cat, or chicken bone on the street.

Of course, I have a treat bag full of hot dogs and liverwurst which serve as her reward for such good behavior.

Here’s the thing: you’re not allowed to use treats in the Canine Good Citizen test.

So over the next two weeks, Honey and I will be testing our relationship. She’ll have to decide if I’m engaging enough to follow even when I don’t smell like processed meat products. And I’ll have to trust that she’ll stay by my side without bribes rewards for positive reinforcement.

Expect the Worst

According to the American Kennel Club, who sponsors the Canine Good Citizen Program, the worst that could happen is behavior that causes an immediate dismissal: “Any dog that growls, snaps, bites, attacks, or attempts to attack a person or another dog is not a good citizen and must be dismissed from the test.”

That’s not going to happen.

Honey acting aggressively? Wait until I stop laughing…

Ok. I’m back.

Honey is definitely not going to flunk for aggression. But irrational exuberance? Well…

Golden Retriever enjoying outdoor dining

I wish I could take my test at a restaurant. I have very good manners when there’s a chance of someone dropping a little something.

As long as the evaluator is a stranger to Honey, we’re fine. But one of the tests is walking through a crowd. Another is calmly sitting while I greet another person with a dog. And I pray, with all my heart, that no one we know in our tiny town is part of the test. Because if Honey spots a friend, all bets are off.

Luckily the dog’s trainer is not supposed to be part of the test. It could give an unfair advantage. Yeah right! If Honey spotted Russ, she’d be so smitten we’d have to use a block and tackle to pull her away from him.

It’s not written in the test guidelines but I suspect a dog who bats her eyes with love at her trainer and totally ignores anything her person says to her would also fail.

Pray for Us Now (And At the Hour of Our Test) 

We have twelve days until the big test.

Until then we’ll practice, practice, practice. And pray.

Is your dog a Canine Good Citizen? What was (or would be) the hardest for your dog? Loose leash walking? Calm greetings? Tolerating your absence? Stay?

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  1. She will do great, I just know it!

  2. I think you and Honey will do fine Pamela, you’ve trained very hard. My biggest concern with Delilah is that she would be upset if I was out of her site for more a period of time, I think the rest she could handle, although maybe not the greeting of the other dog.

    • Delilah might very well surprise you.

      I thought Honey would be totally blase about me leaving her with Russ, our trainer. But the first time we tried it, he said she would not turn away from where I disappeared.

      Practicing with our trainer and his dog was very interesting. I learned a lot about myself (didn’t even notice I was repeating my “stay” cue) and about Honey. You should find a cooperative friend and try it with Delilah just to see how she does.

  3. One thing is for sure – you’re more nervous than Honey is! I did a similar test, we were living in England, the hardest part for me was being brushed when there were so many distractions.

    • You got that right, Clowie. Honey is too smart to be nervous. :)

      On your advice, I think I’ll practice grooming Honey on our walks. It didn’t occur to me that would be harder out in public. Thank you for the tip.

  4. Wishing you good luck. Probably not really possible to cram for the test or get a Cliff’s Notes on it.

  5. While I admit a Golden’s exuberance for greeting others could cause a hitch, you should remember(and take confidence from) the fact that Goldens are pretty much the go-to breed for training Obedience. Smart, biddable and willing workers. You should be fine.

    Both my Cardigan Corgis have their CGCs. Wilson got his at about 15 months. He was a bit shy so being brushed by someone other than me wasn’t fun. For his startle response, they threw a whole bunch of post/pans onto the ground and opened an umbrella in his face. Happily, he didn’t bat an eye. Jimmy got his at 9 months. He isn’t too fond of dogs in his space so I was worried about the meet and greet with someone holding a dog, but he did just fine. He loves people so I wasn’t worried about brushing or leaving his line of sight. When we did the Come, he didn’t exactly bee-line to me, it was more of a curved track toward the evaluator as he knew her and really wanted to say HI. He had the added advantage of taking the test at his familiar training facility so I am sure that helped ALOT! Poor Wilson took his in 95 degree bright sunshine. I think he was good just to get back to some shade.

    Good Luck!

  6. Pamela Honey will be fine. We of course have our paws crossed but feel it won’t be necessary, as it will be just a walk in the park. Have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  7. Honey will do GREAT. I’ve taken several dogs through CGC; one girl, a very favorite of mine, had no prep time at all – we just showed up to help, I put her through for giggles and she passed!

    Pooping during the test will also disqualify a dog. Here’s what I do: I rub my hands full of treat smell before the test – no treats but perhaps the smell helps :).

  8. Bunny is a CGC, and the test wasn’t really that tough for her. I’m the one who’s a terrible test taker. I was holding my breath over the part about greeting a person with a dog, though, because Bunny is a social butterfly and she does like to greet other dogs. She’ll stop, usually, if I tell her to. The other one I worried about was the sit on command. She can be funny about that, but it proved to be not a problem on test day! lol

    I am sure that you and Honey will do just fine!

  9. Best of luck to you!

  10. I’m sure Honey will pass!

    Silas . . . I wrote a whole blog post about all the things in the test he probably couldn’t handle. I don’t think he’s hopeless, but we’re a long way from being ready.

  11. You’re both going to do FINE. Seriously. You’ve both worked very hard for this, and your Honey is a model citizen.

  12. Good Luck Honey. Just a look at your face and you will pass.

  13. Good luck! I’m sure you’ll do just fine!!

  14. Keeping everything crossed for you!!! You will just have to hide sausages and other tasty morsals around your person, you could sow it inside your sleeves, and then you would smell great and the tester would never know!!

  15. I was so nervous the first time I did the CGC. I thought for sure Geo and I would fail. I was thrilled when we passed.

    You guys will do great!

  16. Good luck Honey! I think you will do a good a job. If you have some good tricks, let me know because I am taking my Canine Good Citizen test soon too and I also have trouble not being excited.

  17. When I took the Canine Good Citizen test my peoples never thought I’d be able to handle the loose leash part, or the greeting another dog politely part…

    When Leah took the test they never thought she’d be able to handle the supervised separation…

    When Meadow took the test they never thought, well they just never thought she could do ANY of it, (cause she was in a new place)…

    And guess what? All three of us surprised them. I bet Honey will do pawesome too! But even if she doesn’t, no biggie – you can always re-take it! Good luck!

  18. I’ll be pulling for you guys! :)