AKC’s Canine Good Citizen®


The AKC's Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Program is a public education and outreach program. CGC also serves as an excellent place to get started in training your dog. When you complete CGC training, you will have a canine companion who responds to basic commands such as sit and down and who is under good control on a leash.

While this is a fabulous beginning, we strongly encourage owners to continue training beyond CGC in order to develop some off-leash control, increase the dog's reliability, and to further enhance the bond that has been built during CGC training.

As wonderful as they are, sometimes dogs have problem behaviors such as house-training issues, chewing owner possessions or furniture, barking excessively, or being generally difficult to manage. When you and your dog attend obedience classes, you'll have instructors who can help you work through these problems. Experienced trainers have effectively handled these problems with many dogs and they'll be able to help you solve any problems you might be having.

Dogs are intelligent creatures and they enjoy having a purpose in life and some form of "work" that provides intellectual stimulation. Obedience training is an activity that can satisfy the need to learn and greatly enrich the lives of both you and your dog.

AKC Obedience progresses through 3 levels with each one becoming increasingly advanced. The three levels are:

  1. Novice, in which the dog can earn the C.D. or Companion Dog title
  2. Open, in which the dog can earn the C.D.X. or Companion Dog Excellent title, and
  3. Utility, where the dog can earn the U.D. or Utility Dog title.

Titles are earned by entering obedience trials and earning 3 qualifying scores (these are called "legs") from 3 different judges.

Novice obedience is the first level of competitive obedience and in Novice, the dog will have to heel both on and off-lead at different speeds, come when called, stay (in a sit and down) in a group of dogs, and stand for a simple physical exam by the judge. Some of the exercises are done on-lead and some are done off-lead in Novice. For the specific exercises, see the Obedience Regulations.

In Open obedience, the second level, the dog must do similar exercises as in Novice, but all exercises are done off-leash and the time periods are extended for stays. Open obedience also requires that the dog retrieve ("on the flat") and retrieve over a jump. View the Open obedience exercises.

Utility is the final and most challenging level of obedience. All exercises are done off leash and some of the work is done with hand signals. Tasks such as scent discrimination and directed jumping are required in Utility obedience. View the Utility exercises.

Beyond the U.D., the dogs and handlers who are the "best of the best" can choose to go on to earn the OTCH (Obedience Trial Champion) and U.D.X. (Utility Dog Excellent) titles. OTCH dogs compete for placements and earn points toward the required 100 point total. U.D.X. dogs earn the U.D.X. title by continuing to compete beyond U.D. and earning legs in both U.D. and Open classes at 10 shows.

Each year, one obedience dog earns the prestigious NOC title, National Obedience Champion. The top obedience dogs in every breed are invited to the national competition and one dog wins the event earning the title, "National Obedience Champion."

The AKC club nearest you can help you find AKC obedience classes that will get you and your new Canine Good Citizen on the way to maximizing your dog's potential!