Canine Good Citizen

Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger

This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The evaluator walks up to the dog and handler and greets the handler in a friendly manner, ignoring the dog. The evaluator and handler shake hands and exchange pleasantries. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness.

Test 2: Sitting politely for petting

This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. With the dog sitting at the handler’s side, to begin the exercise, the evaluator pets the dog on the head and body. The handler may talk to his or her dog throughout the exercise. The dog may stand in place as it is petted. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.

Test 3: Appearance and grooming

This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so. It also demonstrates the owner’s care, concern and sense of responsibility. The evaluator inspects the dog to determine if it is clean and groomed. The dog must appear to be in healthy condition (i.e., proper weight, clean, healthy and alert). The handler should supply the comb or brush commonly used on the dog. The evaluator then softly combs or brushes the dog, and in a natural manner, lightly examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. It is not necessary for the dog to hold a specific position during the examination, and the handler may talk to the dog, praise it and give encouragement throughout.

Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)

This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog may be on either side of the handler. The dog’s position should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to the handler’s movements and changes of direction. The dog need not be perfectly aligned with the handler and need not sit when the handler stops. The evaluator may use a pre-plotted course or may direct the handler/dog team by issuing instructions or commands. In either case, there should be a right turn, left turn, and an about turn with at least one stop in between and another at the end. The handler may talk to the dog along the way, praise the dog, or give commands in a normal tone of voice. The handler may sit the dog at the halts if desired. Read More: How to Train a Puppy to Walk on a Leash

Test 5: Walking through a crowd

This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three). The dog may show some interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with the handler, without evidence of over-exuberance, shyness or resentment. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise the dog throughout the test. The dog should not jump on people in the crowd or strain on the leash.

Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place

This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler’s commands to sit and down and will remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers). The dog must do sit AND down on command, then the owner chooses the position for leaving the dog in the stay. Prior to this test, the dog’s leash is replaced with a line 20 feet long. The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to get the dog to sit and then down. The evaluator must determine if the dog has responded to the handler’s commands. The handler may not force the dog into position but may touch the dog to offer gentle guidance. When instructed by the evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward the length of the line, turns and returns to the dog at a natural pace. The dog must remain in the place in which it was left (it may change position) until the evaluator instructs the handler to release the dog. The dog may be released from the front or the side.

Test 7: Coming when called

This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog. The handler may use encouragement to get the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell dogs to “stay” or “wait” or they may simply walk away, giving no instructions to the dog.

Test 8: Reaction to another dog

This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.

Test 9: Reaction to distraction

This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations. The evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity and/or may appear slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise it throughout the exercise.

Test 10: Supervised separation

This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, “Would you like me to watch your dog?” and then take hold of the dog’s leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness. Evaluators may talk to the dog but should not engage in excessive talking, petting, or management attempts (e.g. “there, there, it’s alright”).


Marissa was a huge asset to our family when it came to training our french bulldog Kingston. He has been training with her since he was a puppy, through Canine Good Citizen and is currently training to become a therapy dog. I have full confidence in Marissa’s abilities to train all dogs but more importantly the owners as she is very personable, patient and very knowledgeable.

Sumer Martino

We had an excellent experience with Marissa! She was incredibly knowledgeable of dogs and ALL the different breeds. Murphy our dog has learned so much from her, that we are incredibly pleased!

Laurie Albers

When Marissa fist came to our house to work with my dog Lulu she could barely get through the front door into the house. Anytime anyone comes over Lulu barks excessively. By the end of our first session Marissa was able to win over Lulu’s trust and she no longer barked. She has taught Lulu coping skills to be able handle the stress of having a stranger come into the house and each day we work with Lulu she is able to calm herself down. I am looking forward to see how much more progress Lulu will make with Marissa’s guidance.

Barbie Olson

How it Works

Step 1
Schedule a Complimentary Consultation

During your consultation, we will get to know each other and your dog will get to know Marissa.  The goal of this consultation is to make sure that there is a good fit for you, for your dog and for us.  It is important to the success of your training that this step is taken.  During this time we talk about what you want to accomplish, issues that you are concerned about and if it all looks like a good fit for everyone, then we create a custom training plan. 

Step 2
Schedule your first training session

Once you decide to commit to the training plan discussed, you will schedule your first session.  

A frequent question is "What do I need to get ready for when you come?"
Please be on time and ready for the training. We want to make sure that you get the full training session.
Be ready to participate.  Training is for you as well as your dog. 
Have everyone in the family who wants to be involved (we encourage you to include your children) ready for the training session.

Step 3

Payment is due before or at the beginning of the first session.   The amount is discussed at the complimentary consultation.

CGC Evaluation



  • For dogs ready to be evaluated 
  • Friendly stranger provided
  • Neutral dog provided
  • Convenient location
  • Individual Dog
Single Session



  • Pay as you go
  • Each session is one hour
  • In your home & community
  • Individual Dog