Bernese Mountain Dogs - Breed Information & Education for Puppy Buyers, Owners and Breeders

Bernese Mountain Dogs are big dogs that require training so that they become manageable, reliable, predictable companions both in the home and in public places. Attending a Canine Good Citizen class to learn ways to train dogs is a great way for Bernese Mountain Dog owners to help their Berner learn how to behave appropriately towards other people, dogs and in situations the dogs find themselves in during the course of their lifetimes.

AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) - General info at AKC

What is CGC?

What can you expect to happen at a CGC Class?

(***Please note - CGC classes may vary - this explanation of a CGC training class represents a general outline based on information provided by the AKC. Number of CGC Class sessions offered may vary from 6 - 10 weeks. Age of dogs participating in CGC Classes and specific conditions for participation in CGC Classes vary. Please check with the Class Instructor or Dog Club offering the CGC Class to learn about requirements for participation. You may be asked to provide evidence that your dog has received vaccinations and/or fecal testing.)


1st session
- Introduction to the class and introducing people and their dogs. The instructor will talk about class rules-responsible dog ownership-cleaning up, etc. The instructor will talk about their philosophy of training (e.g., will the class participants use food lures, clickers). The instructor will assist owners with selection and fitting of training collars. You will meet and greet dogs (petting, ears and feet). There will be a demonstration and practice 'walk' on loose lead; and start training for 'Sit'.

2nd session
- The instructor will ask if class participants have any questions or problems with their dog during the week. There will be more interactive sessions with dogs including touching ears and feet, use of a brush or comb. There will be more practice and feedback on 'walking' on a loose lead; practice and feedback on sit. Demonstrations of 'sit/stay' and trying it. Demonstrations of 'down' and trying it. Start on 'Coming When Called'.

3rd session
- The instructor will ask if class participants have any questions or problems with their dog during the week. New person (asst. or a student while you hold their dog) does meet, greet, brief groom. 'Walk'on a loose lead (one at a time with feedback). 'Walk by distraction dog' (can use other students at a farther distance and with necessary precautions). 'Sit and sit-stay; down and start down-stay'. Add time to sit-stay. 'Coming when called'.

4th session
- Greet dogs as owners arrive-touch ears, feet, etc. The instructor will ask if class participants have any questions or problems with their dog during the week. You will be asked to walk your dog on a loose lead-closer to other dogs and near other people. You may be asked to weave in and out of people if the class participants are ready. You will be asked to show that your dog can sit. Sit-stay: add time and distractions. Down and down-stay with added time and distractions. Start on Supervised Separation. You may be asked to hold dogs of others. Coming when called-can be done on leash or long line.

5th session
- You and your dog will have been introduced to all skills. Work on problem areas. Add more difficult distractions, add time to stays. Start of dog owners moving away from their dogs on the stays (up to this point you may have been stepping out in front.) Add distance to come. (Use long lines for safety).

6th session
- Continue to work on problem areas. Your dog will be asked to be reliable at increasing distances, handle added distractions, working in different locations and under a number of different formats for performing the exercises.

7th session
- By now dogs should be going out the full 20-ft. on the stays, out 10 ft. for come. Dogs should not be jumping on distraction dog and should tolerate the touching of their ears and feet. Review and work on any problems.

8th session
GRADUATION Show off your dog's new skills and training!

You will need to offer practice opportunities to your Berner so that he or she can learn to reliably perform the exercises you are taught in the CGC class sessions.
Plan to take a few minutes each day between class sessions to work with your dog.
Learn to recognize times when your dog responds positively to training work. (Do not attempt to work with your dog when he or she is tired.)
Keep training sessions short - under 5-10 minutes so your Berner does not become bored or uncooperative.

Test. Items on the Canine Good Citizen Test

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.

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.

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.

Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog.

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.

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).

Test 7: Coming when called
This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler.

Test 8: Reaction to another dog
This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs.

Test 9: Reaction to distraction
This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations.

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.


All tests must be performed on leash.
The evaluator supplies a 20-foot lead for the test. The owner/handler should bring the dog's brush or comb to the test.


Owners/handlers may use praise and encouragement throughout the test.



Authors - Jack & Wendy Volhard

Summary - Train your dog to pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test.
The exercises are good for general training. Book includes detailed information on utilizing your dog's drive instincts.

Table of Contents

About the Authors
1. Why a Canine Good Citizen?
2. What Is a Canine Good Citizen?
3. What Happens When?
4. Understanding Your Dog.
5. Stress and Your Dog
6. Sit! Down! Stand! Stay!
7. Out for a Walk
8. Coming When Called. 9. Training with Distractions
10. Taking the Test
11. Summary of Exercises
References for the Motivational Method

This book is available at Barnes & Noble

And at

Where do you go after CGC - the next step?

Therapy Dogs