The Canine Good Neighbour Program

The CGN program is conducted by the Canadian Kennel Club. Margaret Armstrong and MacTavish recently were awarded their CGN title and share their experiences.

Meet MacTavish!
MacTavish,(Gaegordon’s Beau Bristle), is an exuberant, loving, intelligent, determined, enthusiastic four year old Cairn Terrier owned by Margaret Armstrong, a Cairn Terrier Club of Canada member from the Gananoque area in Ontario. MacTavish received Canine Good Neighbour (CGN) certification from the Canadian Kennel Club in September 2023.

What is the CKC Canine Good Neighbour Program?
The program is a 12-step test that encourages owners to strengthen their relationship with their dogs. A dog that receives certification is counted on to have good manners at home, in public places and in the presence of other dogs. The Canine Good Neighbour training is meant to be fun, rewarding, and useful. It is interesting to note that the CGN is an important first step for many therapy dog teams.

What is the 12-step Test?
The test is non-competitive and assesses the owner-dog team in a variety of situations in a busy environment. The evaluator gives either a Pass or a Not Ready for each of the 12 steps. A dog has to pass all of the components in order to qualify for the CGN certification. Many handlers and dogs take the test more than once before receiving certification.
Here are the 12 components of the test:
1 Accepting A Friendly Stranger
2 Politely Accepts Petting
3 Appearance and Grooming
4 Out For A Walk
5 Walking Through A Crowd
6 Sit/Down On Command and Stay In Place
7 Come When Called
8 Praise/Interaction
9 Reaction To A Passing Dog
10 Reaction To Distractions
11 Supervised Isolation
12 Walking Through A Door/Gate
There is a Participant Handbook available online with a detailed description of each step. A copy can also be ordered by contacting the CKC order desk at 1-800-250-8040. Getting a copy prior to taking the test is recommended.

Who can register to take the test?
All dogs (mixed or purebred) and owners are able to take the test! No membership or registration with CKC is required. The dog must be at least 12 months old to take the test. Many dog training schools offer a CGN preparation course. Information on the test and a link to all scheduled upcoming CGN tests is listed on the CKC website.

Margaret shares her experiences in preparing for the test.
Each section has its own level of difficulty, depending on the size, breed and nature of your dog. Many dogs have difficulty with being left with a stranger, (supervised isolation), while the owner goes out of sight for at least 3 minutes. It is timed. The dogs must be relaxed
with the stranger and not cry or pull on the leash while their owner is out of sight. Most dogs remain in a sit or down position for this part of the
test. While show dogs are used to being approached and touched over their whole body while on a table, for CGN there is no table, so this is all done on the ground, including using a grooming tool.

In preparation we took our guys to Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Rona, Home Hardware and other open spaces where they met other dogs, new people and we allowed them to be petted by even a two year old, who was totally enamoured of MacTavish.

Our preparation included sit, stay and wait around distractions, meeting new people politely, walking through crowds, exposure to things like
crutches, wheelchairs, baby carriages, umbrellas (opening and closing, or open on the ground), walking ahead of the dog through a gate after
making the dog wait in a sit, stand or down position until released and recalls on a long line.

Congratulations MacTavish!
Congratulations to MacTavish and Margaret! Their hard work and commitment to training together have earned MacTavish a CGN Certificate  from the Canadian Kennel Club. MacTavish can be counted on to be a calm and confident companion wherever he and Margaret may go.



For more information about the CGN program go to:
To download the Participant Handbook go to: