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The AKC's STAR Puppy(sm) Award and Canine Good Citizen(R) (CGC) Title: Tests All Dogs Can Take

Updated on December 31, 2014

One Smart Puppy!

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The AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title

The AKC Canine Good Citizen® program, or CGC, is a rapidly growing certification program from the American Kennel Club that was started in 1989 to encourage and reward dogs--and their owners--for good behavior. This program encourages owners to be responsible for their dog’s behavior, well-being, and good citizenship throughout its life.

Training a dog to pass the CGC should be a fun and bonding experience for both the dog and the human. Well-trained dogs also behave better in general, and a CGC assures that the dog will be welcomed and respected around the house, around guests, and throughout our communities.

The CGC training can be the beginning of a beautiful life with your dog or even the launch pad for pursuing other AKC activities such as agility, obedience, tracking, etc., or perhaps even to becoming a therapy dog.

Specialized training classes are not required to pass the CGC. However, the CGC test and title can only be formally administered and conferred by someone who is an official AKC Evaluator authorized to test dogs for the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title. They can be found by going to the AKC website and looking for evaluators in your state.

To become an AKC Canine Good Citizen:

(1) the dog must pass a 10-item test, and


(2) the owner must take the AKC CGCsm Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge

The dog’s portion of the test

Test items in the dog’s portion of the test include touching, grooming, separation from the owner, an even-tempered reaction to serious distractions, (another dog, crowds, a stranger), and of course strict adherence to walking on a leash and the sit, down, and come commands.

The owner’s portion of the test

As far as the owner’s test items, the owner must pledge to take responsibility for their dog’s health, safety, and quality of life and to not allow their dog to infringe upon the rights of others, such as by roaming the neighborhood or leaving dog waste uncollected (yes, you have to scoop the poop—all the time, every time).

The dog and owner who pass all of these criteria are eligible to order CGC merchandise such as a collar tag, patch, and certificate for display. If the dog is AKC-registered, the title “CGC” is added to the dog’s name.

For more information, visit the AKC's CGC website, download their brochure , or email AKC CGC at cgc@akc.org.

For puppies not yet ready to pass this challenge, your puppy might be able to pass the new AKC S.T.A.R. Puppysm award.

Video of an actual AKC CGC test

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Does your puppy/dog have either a S.T.A.R. puppy or CGC title?

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"River", sporting her shiny gold-tone medallion S.T.A.R.  award
"River", sporting her shiny gold-tone medallion S.T.A.R. award
S.T.A.R. Puppy award certificate and award medallion with ribbon
S.T.A.R. Puppy award certificate and award medallion with ribbon

The new AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy(sm) award

Similar to the CGC, the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppysm is an award program from the American Kennel Club that was announced on November 25, 2008. S.T.A.R. stands for Socialization, Training, Activity, and Responsibility.

Conferred by an official AKC Evaluator, anyone who is authorized to test dogs for the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title, this program encourages owners to be responsible for their dog from the minute they decide to get a puppy and throughout its life.

As with the CGC, to become an AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy, both the owner and the puppy have to pass a 20-item test.

There are three parts to the test:

(1) owner behaviors,

(2) puppy behaviors, and

(3) pre-Canine Good Citizen® test behaviors.

Owner behaviors

As with the CGCSM, the owner must also take the AKC CGCsm Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge. 

In addition to taking the pledge, one required owner (and puppy) behavior is attending at least 6 classes taught by an AKC Approved CGC Evaluator. Other items include things like health, exercise, play, bringing poop bags to class, and getting some type of ID for the puppy.

Puppy behaviors

Puppy behaviors tested include aggression toward people or puppies, tolerating its collar/harness, and bonding with the owner. 

Pre-Canine Good Citizen® test items

Pre-Canine Good Citizen® test items include touching, grooming, separation from the owner, an even-tempered reaction to distraction, and of course walking on a leash and the basic sit, down, and come commands.

The puppy and owner who pass all of these criteria are awarded a medal and certificate, both suitable for display. 

For more information, visit their website at http://www.akc.org/starpuppy/, download their brochure http://www.akc.org/pdfs/starpuppy/brochure.pdf, or email AKC S.T.A.R. Puppysm at starpuppy@akc.org. After the S.T.A.R. Puppy test comes the CGC test described above.

About the Author

Information about the author, a list of her complete works on HubPages, and a means of contacting her are available over on ==>Laura Schneider's profile page. But wait--don't go there yet! Please continue scrolling down to leave ratings and any comments you have about this article so that it can be improved to best meet your needs. Thank you!


All text, photos, videos, and graphics in this document are Copyright © 2013 Laura D. Schneider unless indicated otherwise or unless in the public domain. All rights reserved. All trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.

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