Is Good Dog Part Of Akc?


The American Kennel Club (AKC) is the largest purebred dog registry in the world, overseeing events, advocating for dogs, and promoting responsible dog ownership since 1884 ( They offer a variety of programs and services, including the Good Dog certification.

The AKC Good Dog certification is a training program that allows dog owners to demonstrate their dog’s real-world skills in a 10-step test. It was launched in 2019 as a way for all dogs, both purebred and mixed breeds, to have an opportunity to be rewarded for training (““). The certification aims to showcase dogs with good manners and recognizable training.

AKC Organization

The American Kennel Club (AKC) is a non-profit organization focused on promoting the health, welfare, and training of purebred dogs in the United States. Founded in 1884, the AKC maintains the largest purebred dog registry in the world, with over 1,000 dog breeds recognized and certified.

akc logo

According to their website, the AKC’s mission is “to uphold the integrity of its Registry, promote the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and function.” They offer programs and services related to dog sports, health research, breeding practices, training, and more. As a non-profit, they use proceeds to support canine health foundations, educational programs, rescue groups, and other initiatives.

While best known for their dog breed registry and dog show events, the AKC has expanded their activities over the years. They aim to be a comprehensive resource for all things dogs, providing public education and outreach on responsible dog ownership. With club chapters across the country, they engage dog enthusiasts through local events and activities.

AKC Programs

The American Kennel Club (AKC) offers various programs and services for dog owners, breeders, and trainers. Some of the key AKC programs include:

Events – The AKC sanctions over 22,000 events each year including dog shows, obedience trials, agility trials, rally trials, hunt tests, herding tests, and more. These events allow dogs to compete and earn titles. There are over 15,000 AKC-licensed and member clubs that hold events across the United States.[1]

Titles – Dogs can earn titles by accumulating points at AKC events. Some examples of titles include: Champion, Grand Champion, Obedience Trial Champion, Rally Champion, Agility Champion, etc. Titles indicate that a dog has achieved proficiency and excellence in a certain area.[2]

Registrations – The AKC provides registry services for purebred dogs. Over 1 million dogs are registered each year with the AKC. Registration indicates pure breeding and provides a pedigree record for dogs. Only AKC registered dogs can compete in AKC events.[3]

Through its programs, the AKC promotes events, titles, and registrations which support and encourage responsible dog ownership and breeding.


Good Dog Certification

dog taking the good dog test

The AKC Good Dog certification was launched by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2019 as part of their AKC Canine Good Citizen program. This new certification aims to test a dog’s training and temperament in real-world settings. According to the AKC website, “The AKC GoodDog! test simulates interactions dogs experience with humans and other dogs in real life situations.”

To earn the AKC GoodDog! certification, dogs must pass a 10-step behavioral test that assesses their manners and temperament. Some of the test elements include accepting petting from a friendly stranger, walking through a crowd, tolerating distractions, and responding to basic obedience cues. The full test is administered by an AKC approved Certified Evaluator.

The AKC states that the purpose of the GoodDog! test is to ensure dogs have the training and socialization to be well-behaved and reliable companions in public settings. It demonstrates that a dog can politely interact with people and function calmly in everyday life. The certification is positioned as a complement to the AKC Canine Good Citizen test.


To earn the AKC GoodDog certification, dogs must pass either the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy or Canine Good Citizen test (AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy – Supporting the Animals Right to Proper Early Training). According to the AKC, these tests are designed to “assure that our favorite companion animal, the dog, can be a respected member of the community” by demonstrating good manners in the home and in public (AKC Canine Good Citizen).

The AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy test is intended for puppies aged 4-12 months and involves a behavioral checklist completed by the owner along with an in-person evaluation. The Canine Good Citizen test is for dogs aged 6 months and older and evaluates the dog’s behavior in settings similar to those encountered in everyday life.

Some of the key elements tested in the Canine Good Citizen evaluation include accepting a friendly stranger, sitting politely for petting, appearance and grooming, walking through a crowd, sitting and staying on command, coming when called, reaction to distractions, and supervised separation (AKC Canine Good Citizen).


Passing the Canine Good Citizen test comes with several benefits for dogs and their owners [1]. The AKC awards a certificate to dogs who pass the test. This certificate shows that the dog has good manners and basic obedience skills. Owners can also get an official AKC Canine Good Citizen ID tag for their dog to wear.

Many dog-friendly businesses and public facilities offer discounts or special privileges for Canine Good Citizens. For example, some rental properties may waive pet deposits or fees for CGC dogs. CGC dogs may also have access to more public areas like restaurants, stores, and parks. Additionally, some homeowner’s insurance companies provide discounts on policies for owners of Canine Good Citizens.

Overall, the CGC program promotes responsible dog ownership and better-behaved dogs. The training and testing give owners more control over their dogs, which reduces problem behaviors. Passing the CGC test shows a dog is well-socialized and a model canine citizen.


The AKC’s Good Dog certification program has had a positive impact in several ways. First, it promotes improved training and responsible dog ownership. According to the AKC website, Good Dog “certifies dogs who have good manners at home and in the community” [1]. To pass the Good Dog test, dogs must demonstrate basic obedience and good behavior around people and other dogs. This encourages owners to properly train and socialize their dogs.

owner with their cgc certified dog

Second, the Good Dog program spreads awareness about responsible pet ownership. Dogs who earn the certification must be well-behaved, meaning their owners have invested time in providing structure, boundaries and meeting the dog’s needs. The AKC states that Good Dog reinforces responsible pet ownership and improves the dog-owner relationship [1]. Overall, the program promotes dogs as good canine citizens.


The AKC Good Dog certification has received criticism on a few fronts. One is the perceived lack of enforcement of the program’s standards. Though dogs are required to pass a test to receive the Good Dog certification, some argue there is inadequate follow-up to ensure certified dogs and their owners continue to uphold the program’s training and behavioral standards after certification 1.

Additionally, some view the Good Dog program primarily as a revenue generator for AKC. The certification involves fees for enrollment and testing, and owners must renew it annually for a fee. On top of enrollment costs, owners can purchase Good Dog merchandise from AKC. While the program provides guidance and support for dog owners, some believe the monetary component is its main priority and motivation 2.


While the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program is one of the most well-known dog training and behavior certifications, there are some alternatives that focus on similar skills. Some dog owners seek alternatives to the CGC for ethical reasons or prefer programs offered by other organizations.

alternative dog training programs

One such alternative is the Pawsitive Behavioral Canine Life Skills (PBCLS) program offered by Pawsitive Dogs, LLC. This program assesses a dog’s training and behavior through 10 skill tests similar to the AKC’s CGC. Dogs are evaluated on skills like polite greeting manners, walking on a loose leash, being left alone with a trusted person, and coming when called. The PBCLS program differs in that it allows food rewards during testing and has no sponsorship requirements. Upon passing, dogs receive a PBCLS certificate.

Other alternatives include therapy dog certifications like the Alliance of Therapy Dogs’ (ATD) Testing Skills and Evaluation program or Pet Partners’ skills and aptitude testing. These assess not only a dog’s manners and behavior but their suitability for visiting healthcare facilities and interacting with vulnerable individuals. Certification typically requires training courses, observed skills tests, veterinary approval, handler questionnaires, and insurance.

Some owners also pursue basic obedience titles like the AKC’s Novice Obedience trial title or the CDSP’s Novice Obedience title through training clubs as an alternative way to demonstrate their dog’s training. These involve standardized obedience routines and off-leash work. While more demanding than a CGC evaluation, they similarly showcase a dog’s manners and response to commands.


In summary, the AKC Good Dog certification is a program by the American Kennel Club to test and certify dogs in basic obedience and manners. To earn the certification, dogs must pass the AKC’s Good Dog test, which evaluates their behavior in a variety of everyday situations. The benefits of getting certified include having a well-trained dog, receiving a certificate and ID tag, and being part of a community of Good Dogs. However, the program has faced some criticism for being too easy or not comprehensive enough. Overall, the AKC Good Dog certification provides a way for dogs and owners to demonstrate basic obedience and manners, though more advanced training may be needed beyond the baseline Good Dog test.

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