“Hello, AKC, I have a problem. My dog needs to pass the Canine Good Citizen Test to do therapy work, but I have not taught him to sit. He is being trained for the show ring and if I teach him to sit, he will sit in the ring. Can he pass the CGC Test without sitting?”
Just as there are no breed-specific exceptions to CGC test items, there are no exceptions made for dogs whose owners believe the time is not quite right to teach all of the skills.
However, with some behavioral know-how, there is no reason why dogs being trained for other competitive events can’t be taught to sit for the CGC Test. The behavioral principle that comes into play here is called stimulus control. An example of stimulus control in the real world is a child who has learned that yelling on the playground is fine but that it is not acceptable to scream in a library.
Dogs are keenly intelligent, amazing creatures that can easily be taught to know what is expected of them in different situations. One trick is to use different collars for different activities. For example, a fine, light show lead signals to the dog that it is time for the show ring, whereas a thicker buckle collar signals that you’re getting ready to do obedience.
A second trick for ensuring that your dog will know what is expected is to teach the words that are relevant to each activity. In preparation for the CGC Test, a dog learns words such as sit, down, and come. As an example, a dog shown in conformation can be taught the word stand, and the handler can learn to give the dog the verbal reminder to stand as soon as there is any sign that the dog is beginning to sit. With a few reminders paired with food rewards for standing, any unwanted attempts at sitting in the ring will soon disappear.
What is your opinion on the dual ring dog that is trained for or competes in more than one event at a time? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.