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Everything You Need to Know About the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen Program

For a dog to be awarded the CGC title, he must be able to demonstrate proficiency with 10 basic skills.

Sassafras Lowrey  |  Feb 21st 2020


The American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen, or CGC as it is more commonly known, is a test where dogs of any breed or mixed breed demonstrate proficiency with 10 basic skills designed to show good manners.

Since the program began in 1989, over 1 million dogs have earned their CGC title! For a dog to be awarded the CGC title, he must be able to pass all 10 areas of testing criteria:

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger
  2. Sitting politely for petting
  3. Appearance and grooming (evaluator lightly brushes the dog)
  4. Walking on a loose leash
  5. Walking through a crowd
  6. Sit and down on command and staying in place
  7. Coming when called
  8. Reaction to another dog
  9. Reacting (or not reacting) to a distraction
  10. Supervised separation (handler leaves the area for three minutes)

One of the biggest strengths of the program is for individuals who are interested in pursuing other canine sports and activities like competitive obedience and rally training, or even sports like agility. The CGC is also beneficial foundation training if you and your dog are interested in training to volunteer as a therapy dog team.

Photo: American Kennel Club

You can train for the test on your own or enroll in a class at a local training center or kennel club. Dogs can be tested privately by an AKC evaluator, or by an evaluator at AKC dog shows and fun matches. There are two additional CGC tests: the Urban CGC, which tests a dog’s ability to maintain calm and control in busy urban environments with traffic and crowds; and the Advanced CGC or Community Canine Test, which includes a recall to handler in a distracting environment from 20 feet away.

New in 2019 was the AKC’s Temperament Test, which evaluates a dog’s overall temperament and how he will react to a variety of stimulations. To pass, evaluators want the dog to demonstrate a temperament that is stable, inquisitive, cooperative and appropriately social for his breed, including recovering from being startled.

Why AKC’s Canine Good Citizen Program matters

The CGC is a seal of approval that your dog has a high standard of training and can appropriately engage with dogs as well as people. If you are a renter, your dog having his CGC title can help you be approved for apartments and show that your dog will be a good tenant. Unfortunately, some landlords are also starting to require dogs who live in their buildings pass the CGC.

While every dog is a good dog, not every dog is able to pass the CGC, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that a dog is a liability. Rather, dogs who are not able to pass the CGC are dogs who will need additional training and possibly lifelong management and commitment from their guardians to ensure they are able to be safe and successful when engaging with the world.

Top photograph: American Kennel Club

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