By Beth Scorzelli

The American Shih Tzu Club will be offering AKC Canine Good Citizen CGC testing and all levels of AKC Trick Dog Testing at the 2023 ASTC National Specialty, which will be held in Pittsburgh, PA, on April 18-22. Tests will be held in the ballroom on Friday evening, April 21. Information about the National and an order form to enter your dog will be posted on the ASTC website.

CGC is a good way to get your feet wet in dog sports. It basically says your dog is a Good Citizen and that you are a dog owner that takes time to make your dog a well behaved member of society. CGC does require some basic training and the dog has to be able to follow basic commands. There are 10 basic elements to the test, which is judged by a CGC evaluator.

Accepting a friendly stranger. In this element of the test the evaluator does not interact with the dog. The evaluator and the owner stop and exchange pleasantries and then move on. The dog must not lunge at the evaluator or basically cause a disturbance between the two people interacting.

Sitting politely for petting. The evaluator pets the dog. The dog need not remain sitting, but may not jump up on the evaluator or show shyness or resentment. The owner may talk to the dog.

Appearance and grooming. The owner may have the dog sit or stand while the evaluator lightly brushes the dog and then examines its ears and front feet. For this exercise it is recommended that the owner brings their own brush. The dog may not show shyness or resentment while the evaluator examines him/her. The owner may talk to the dog the entire time.
Out for a walk. The evaluator will “call” a pattern where the dog and handler make a left and right turn, and an about turn and at least one halt. The leash must be loose while they are walking, but the dog need not be in a heel position and does not have to sit when the owner stops.

Walking through a crowd. The team must walk through a crowd of at least 3-4 people on a loose leash.

Sit/Down on command. The dog must demonstrate a sit and a down on command. The owner may use a command and/or signal to get the dog to sit and then down, and may give multiple commands, but may not touch the dog to get them into position. The dog is then put on a 20 foot leash and is left on either a sit or a down while the handler walks to the end of the leash and turns around and comes back. It is ok if the dog changes position but remains n place.

Coming when called. The dog is left on the long leash and the owner goes approximately 10 feet and calls the dog. The owner may use encouragement to get the dog to come.

Reaction to another dog. Another dog and handler will approach the dog and handler being tested and the handlers will stop and exchange pleasantries. The dog should not show more than a casual interest in the other dog. The other dog will be a dog that wll not react to the dog being tested.

Reaction to distraction. There will be a visual distraction and an auditory distraction. The visual distraction is usually a jogger going by the dog’s path and auditory is usually something dropped, a sudden noise. The dog may startle but should recover quickly. Supervised separation. Another person offers to watch the dog for the owner and the owner goes out of sight for 3 minutes. The dog may be left in a sit or down or may just be left standing. The person “watching” the dog holds the leash and the dog should not show signs of distress.

The CGC test is very relaxed, and the owner may give multiple commands and have several tries at most of the exercises, but the dogs do need to show some basic training and be able to follow basic commands. CGC is a great starting point for many different activities with your dog. I started here with my first dog I took an obedience class with, a mixed breed that, at the time (1995) could not compete in AKC events. Some therapy dog associations use it as a basis for their Therapy Dog testing. It is also used as the foundation for AKC Trick Dog Testing. Dogs that have passed the CGC test only have to do 5 tricks to get the Novice Trick Dog title. I became a CGC evaluator back in the early 2000’s to be able to do CGC evvaluations for the clubs I belong to like the ASTC and the Red River Obedience Training Club. CGC evaluators can now teach AKC Star puppy classes, evaluate CGC, CGCA, CTGCU, and Trick Dog testing. The first CGC test I administered was at the 2009 ASTC National. We had several participants, including some dogs that participated in conformation at the Specvialty. Most of these dogs can easily pass the “manners” and grooming part of the test since they have to have those skills to show in conformation. It’s just a matter of teaching them to sit, down, stay, and a recall on command to pass the test.

Trick Dog has become very popular with those just getting started in dog sports as well as those that are veterans in dog sports. I find that “dog people” are always looking for something new and interesting to do with their dogs. The novice lebvel is very accommodating to novice dogs and people. The handler can use a food lure to get the dog to do the trick. Examples of tricks you can o are hand signals to sit, down, or come, speak, high five, “kennel up,” spin in a circiel. There are lots of simple tricks to choose from and you only need 5 if you pass the CGC test prior to the Trick Dog testing. 10 tricks is if you don’t do the CGC. I encourage everyone to come out and do CGC and Trick Dog at our national. I am all about showing that Shih Tzu are more than just a pretty face.

About the Author
I have trained and shown Shih Tzu in obedience since 1995 in agility since 1998, and in rally since AKC started the program in 2005. I am on my fourth Shih Tzu to trainin all events. I have put three CDX’s, 2 UD’s, 10 RAE’s, and an RM4, as well as Master Agility Titles on four different Shih Tzu. I am a CGC evaluator and an AKC Temperament Test Evaluator, as well as a Farm Dog Certification judge, and am chairman of the ASTC Obedience Committee.