This week’s CITIZEN CANINE topic is CGC & Shelter Dogs.
The Canine Good Citizen Program is a program that is being implemented as a way to help shelter dogs get adopted.Sadly, one of the most common reasons that dogs are relinquished to shelters is that they have behavior problems.
Many of these problems could be easily corrected with basic training (of both the dog and the owner). To help dogs get a good start toward a successful placement in an adoptive home, many shelters now have Canine Good Citizen training programs for their dogs. In cases where shelters don’t have a paid trainer or behaviorist, volunteers from local dog clubs or the community provide training. Some shelters allow the shelter staff to attend dog-training sessions and get involved in training. This is an uplifting and wonderful experience for the staff, who spend a lot of their time dealing with problems and difficult issues. A shelter-based CGC program generally looks like this:
1. Volunteers or staff who are identified as trainers are trained on dog-training skills and CGC.
2. Dogs are identified for the training program.
3. Training sessions begin.
4. When the dog has learned all of the CGC skills, a sign is posted on the dog’s kennel door that says, “I have passed the Canine Good Citizen Test. If you adopt me, we can get my certificate from the American Kennel Club.”
5. When the dog is adopted, the shelter staff or volunteer (dog trainer) gives the adoptive owner and dog a lesson. The owner is taught how to get the dog to perform the CGC behaviors. The owner runs through the CGC Test with the dog and is given the paperwork to request the CGC certificate.
6. During the training, some shelters post “report cards” on the kennel doors of those dogs being trained. “I am learning these ten skills on the Canine Good Citizen Test. If you adopt me, we can finish my training together.” The skills are listed and checked off as the dog can do each one.
7. The first priority is finding the dog a loving, adoptive home, so if the dog has a chance to be adopted before training is completed, training stops and the dog goes home with his new family. The family is given information about training opportunities in the area, and the trainer selects another dog to begin training.