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Golden Retriever and young woman posing for a picture outdoors.

What is CGC?

CGC is a ten-skill training program that’s open to all dogs–purebred and mixed breed–that focuses on teaching the basics of good manners and obedience, instilling the values of responsible ownership, and strengthening the bond between you and your dog at home and out in the community. 

After mastering the ten skills, passing the CGC test together, and taking the Responsible Dog Ownership pledge, you and your pup will join the proud ranks of over 1 million dogs who have earned their Canine Good Citizen award– accomplishment that’s definitely worthy of extra belly rubs! 

Small mixed breed sitting in a CGC class.

The Benefits of Canine Good Citizen

For starters, we know it’s up to us as humans to lead the charge and promote responsible pet ownership, so our skills are based on learning how to better understand and communicate with each other. Through the hours of training and practice, you’ll deepen your bond and become a more connected pair. This bond allows you to become the best companions for each other, and great neighbors to those around you. It’s a win, win, win!

Beyond the bonding, there are practical benefits to CGC training, too. Not only will you and your dog understand the basics of dog training, and master skills like sit, down and stay, but you’ll know your dog will be able to handle herself with grace in a crowd and be a welcomed client at the vet or groomer. The CGC title is also a prerequisite for many therapy dog certifications, as well as a great introduction to more advanced dog sports and activities. Some homeowners’ insurance programs even offer discounts for CGC dogs, and an increasing number of apartments and condos see CGC awards as a major bonus for becoming a resident.

Beyond Your Backyard

In just over a decade, the CGC Program has had an extremely positive impact in communities across the country. As part of AKC’s commitment to protecting the  safety of dogs and their owners through education and legislation, many state governments have started recognizing the CGC program as a means of advocating responsible dog ownership, and 48 states now have Canine Good Citizen resolutions, endorsing the program on a state-wide level.

By participating in a CGC program in your neighborhood, and spreading the word to others around you, you can help ensure the dogs we love will always be welcomed and well-respected members of our communities.

Who Can Participate?

There are no age minimums or limits for participating in the Canine Good Citizen program, because yes, you actually can teach an old dog new tricks! And, both purebred and mixed breed dogs are welcome. 

With that being said, we also know that training a puppy is different than training an adult dog, so we have special training, AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy, that teaches the starting points of CGC skills for young dogs. Additionally, we have the CGC-Ready program prepares dogs in special situations to take the CGC test.

Bernese Mountain Dog puppies sitting side by side.

AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy

Even though a dog may start CGC at any age, puppies are sometimes developmentally more suited for getting their AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy award first, then moving up to CGC after graduation. Although AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy is not a mandatory requirement to participate in CGC, it creates a solid foundation for puppies who continue on to additional training.

Mixed breed dog at a shelter waiting to go home.

CGC Ready

If a dog is in a shelter/rescue, or another instance where the owner isn’t available to train together with the dog, we offer the CGC Ready Program to pups to help them prepare to take the test once their owner is ready to participate. In shelter situations, training dogs through our CGC Ready Program is a wonderful way to give them the skills they need to increase their chances of adoption. 

As for the humans training with their dogs, any adult, AKC Junior or 4H participant can take their pup through CGC program, but only one person at a time can be tested with the dog. 


  • Is CGC related to Therapy Dog Programs? +

    CGC is not the same as a therapy dog program, but many therapy programs require the CGC award before accepting pups into their class. To learn more about the AKC Therapy Dog title, see

  • How can I find a CGC trainer or evaluator? +

    There are a few ways to find an evaluator. You can contact an individual CGC Evaluator or an AKC club that offers CGC testing and training to see if they have any upcoming tests.

  • What are 'dog sports'? +

    Dog sports are fun, engaging ways for you and your dog to bond (and, they’re incredible exercise for your dog’s mind and body!). AKC has something for every dog. Once your dog knows the basics, you and your dog can try agility, obedience, rally, tracking, scent work, diving, therapy dog work and tricks. Don’t worry if these seem far-fetched right now (get it?). CGC provides the perfect starting point for establishing a strong bond, developing foundational skills and teaching you how to communicate as you move on to more challenging activities together. 

  • How much is training? +

    The price of training for CGC varies from trainer to trainer. On the average, 6-weeks of classes are about $100, with the CGC test given at the end of the session for no additional fee. Any fees paid for training stay with your local trainers. However, if you want your official title or CGC certificate from AKC, there is a $10 processing fee.

  • Does my dog need to retake the CGC test after a certain amount of time? +

    Once you and your dog pass your CGC exam, there is no AKC requirement to retake the test. Some therapy dog groups and insurance companies will ask to have a test that is current within 2 years. Regardless, we always encourage you to keep training and trying new activities with your dog so you can continue to bond, provide mental stimulation and exercise. 

  • What if my dog fails the CGC test? +

    It’s 100% OK! Don’t be too hard on yourself, or on your pup. Many amazing dogs have a little trouble passing all of the skills the first time around, and still go on to successfully pass the CGC test. You’re more than welcome to try the test again after polishing whatever skills caused some stumbling blocks on your previous attempt.

  • Who can participate in CGC? +

    There are no age limits for participating in the Canine Good Citizen program. The only stipulation is that a dog must take the test with his owner. If a dog is in a shelter or foster situation, he can still learn the skills needed to pass the test and be labeled 

    Even though a dog may start CGC at any age, puppies are sometimes developmentally more suited for the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy program. 

  • Do I need to go through a CGC Evaluator to take the test? +

    To have your dog’s incredible manners and skills recognized by the AKC, you do need to pass the test administered by an AKC CGC Approved Evaluator. 

  • What does passing the CGC get me and my dog? +

    Not only will you and your dog understand the basics of dog training, and master skills like sit, down and stay, some homeowners’ insurance programs or hotels offer discounts for CGC dogs, and an increasing number of apartments and condos see passing the CGC test as a major bonus for becoming a resident. 

    Additionally, you’ll be in a better position to pursue a variety of dog sports. After going the CGC training, you and your dog will have stronger communication skills, making future sports easier to learn.

  • What will training be like? +

    Training varies from trainer to trainer, who else is in your class and what your dog responds to best. Generally speaking, there will be a little bit of play time to run off extra energy, structured learning, reviewing the skills and learning what reward system works best for you and your dog.