Is Eko A Good Citizen?

There is no doubt that Eko is a great adventurer and companion, but is he a good citizen?  One of the long-term goals on our bucket list is to get Eko certified as a therapy dog, and as part of that training I want to get Eko his Canine Good Citizenship certification.

pet friendly blog

“Hey Will, I trained this dinosaur, does that make me a good citizen?”

The Canine Good Citizen certification consists of a ten point test (none of which are taming dinosaurs).  Before I start any sort of intensive training with Eko, I figured it would be best to see where we stand on each of the test requirements.

Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger

We’ve been in Chicago for less than two months and Eko already thinks he’s the mayor.  This one will be a cinch!

Test 2: Sitting politely for petting

rhodesian ridgeback

Feel free to pet me, humans!

Eko likes to nuzzle when he’s being pet, but if I give him the “sit” command first, he is happy to kick back and enjoy the love.  Eko should have this one covered as well.

Test 3: Appearance and grooming

This test largely involves seeing whether Eko is comfortable with someone aside from me brushing/grooming him.  Eko would let anyone massage him with the zoom groom brush, so I think he is 3/3 on these tests so far.

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

Ah, now here is where things could get slightly tricky.  For the most part, Eko is happy to plod along next to me on our walks.  However, if we see a rabbit then all bets are off.  We’re going to need a bit of practice here.

Test 5: Walking through a crowd

rhodesian ridgeback pet adventure

You could say that Eko is used to being the center of attention

Dog shows, concerts and parades – Eko has seen it all.  I have actually found that the more activity there is, the less Eko is interested.  I think it must become white noise for him, but it still wouldn’t hurt to get some more practice.  While we practice not chasing rabbits, I’ll also make sure we find some crowds to walk through.

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

pet blog rhodesian ridgeback

“Don’t move? No problem.”


Test 7: Coming when called


Test 8: Reaction to another dog

pet friendly blog rhodesian ridgeback


There’s always a catch!  The crux of this test is that Eko should show no more than a “passing interest” in another dog.  Currently, this is not the case.  Eko believes that every dog has the potential to be his best friend so Eko just has to say hello.  Test 8 is where we are going to need to do the most work.

Test 9: Reaction to distraction

This test checks whether there is anything that will startle Eko or make him panic.  After 15,000+ miles on the road and countless adventures, I think this test is a yawner for Eko.

Test 10: Supervised separation

The final test is that Eko must stay with the evaluator for three minutes while I walk out of sight.  Eko makes fast friends, so I’m sure he’ll have the evaluator eating out of his paw by the time this test is over.


It looks like tests 4, 5 and (especially) 8 will be where we spend most of our time practicing.  How would your dog do on the CGC test?  If one of your pups has ever been CGC certified be sure to let us know some tips!


When we took Cliff home from the shelter, he was 6 months old and virtually uncontrollable! He’s a golden retriever/collie/spaniel mix. After some basic training and bonding, he knew what was expected of him and passed his CGC test with ease. With all the training you’ve already done, Eko will be certified in no time!

Yes, Eko is such a good citizen you ought to consider letting him mediate the Chicago teachers strike. Who could fight with that face staring at them?

If he is like most Ridgebacks, just be sure no one in the exam room has food. That is the downfall of my current RR! My first aced the test just before her first birthday. She was a very calm dog, but we practiced lots in puppy class and they let her take the test early. The test was given in the same room as puppy class. That also helped.
As for the easy going with another dog, you may need to train that with a special command. “Leave it” or “with me” or “watch me” to signify that is it not dog play time. With my second ridgeback who was aggressive with other dogs I trained him to “watch me” on command, and every time we came upon a dog I used that signal to keep him focused. That worked well. If you have their attention the other dog fades away. Usually.
And my other advice is to take him to the test already tired. He is less likely to do something unexpected!

The wise words of a seasoned Ridgeback owner! Your comment made me smile because of course food is a Ridgeback’s #1 weakness. Your advice to make sure Eko is tired is also smart and definitely something I hadn’t though about. Eko knows “watch me” but I haven’t tried it in the context of needing to redirect his interest from other dogs, so that’s something else to work on. That’s a lot of great advice packed into one comment – thanks so much for taking the time to share your tips!

Eko’s definitely a star pupil. With the exception of snoozing on the sofa (love that pic), I think you’re the magic ingredient in this recipe Will. A pet is truly a reflection of it’s owner. You’ve done an amazing job of ensuring Eko’s living a rich and fullfilling life, that’s admirable. It helps to have a cooperative and attentive pet too. OK, so it’s 60/40, and I won’t say which is which, ha.

Eko would probably prefer not to be a reflection of me (I’ll agree, his face is nicer) but thanks for the compliment! He’s an amazing pup, so I’m sure with some specific and targeted training he can pull this off. I just have to make sure I don’t trip and fall or mess this up! I wonder if they deduct points if your human is a goofball…

I volunteered to help at a festival where dogs were taking the test and I got to see how they reacted. They were all on their best behavior and they seemed to understand that they were working. I think Eko will do a great job!

Yeah, I have a feeling Eko and I are in for some serious training sessions if there is any hope of passing! Unfortunately they don’t give you any points for being an adventurer.

You definitely helped spur this on, so thank you! Did you find any one part of the certification more difficult than the others?

Only the leaving them for the three minutes. As I said because Eko is so well socialized and you have taken him so many places he has got this in the bag! The CGC as well as the test for therapy dog. I would find the CGC tester and ask if you can observe the test. Same thing when you are ready to therapy dog test. It will make it so you are not so nervous, when you know how it is all done. It was a lot easier than I made it (in my mind) out to be. Go for it Will I know you two can do it!

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