Canine Good Citizen
The AKC initiated a test for all dogs — mixed or pure, registered or not — that acts as a statement of the dog's good temperament and stableness around people. The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) status is not only a requirement before a dog can become certified as an AAT dog, it is also a good certification for all shepherds to possess. When an ignorant neighbor accuses your shepherd of being a dangerous dog for no reason at all, the CGC certificate is a good document to use in your dog's defense. The CGC is an indication of a dog's good temperament and manners. On top of that, it is also proof that you are a responsible dog owner.
Insurance agencies have been known to deny shepherd owners homeowner's insurance because they own German shepherds, in cases where German shepherds are on the companies' list of dogs causing bite injuries. However, if your shepherd has a CGC, some insurance companies may be more inclined to waive this restriction and insure your home. The CGC certainly doesn't hurt, and it can most likely help.
Shepherds need to be at least four months old to take the CGC. The skills that are necessary to pass include being comfortable around people and strange dogs, as well as walking on a loose leash, walking through a crowd of people, sitting politely for petting, and coming when called. The test is pass/fail and can be taken as many times as needed to achieve a pass. Once a dog passes, his name and registration information (if available) are permanently recorded in the AKC's CGC archives. You will also be given an opportunity to purchase a CGC collar tag to show off your dog's achievement.
To find out more about the CGC and to locate a training preparatory class, contact your local humane society, shelter, or pound. Training clubs in your area should also have information on CGC training classes.