Canine Good Citizen Certification in the Bay Area

Canine good citizen training

The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program, established by the American Kennel Club (AKC), represents a cornerstone in the journey toward responsible dog ownership and cultivating well-mannered dogs within our communities. This initiative stands as a testament to the belief that the foundation of a harmonious society is built upon the pillars of discipline, mutual respect, and understanding between dogs and their owners.

This blog aims to equip our readers with a comprehensive understanding of the certifications, trainings, pathways, and benefits of the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification.

Key Takeaways

  • The CGC program is a comprehensive test that assesses a dog’s behavior and manners, ensuring they are well-socialized members of society.
  • Preparation for the CGC certification can be personalized, with options ranging from self-training to private lessons and group classes.
  • Achieving CGC certification opens up further dog opportunities, including therapy work, advanced sports, and specialized training.
  • The CGC program supports the AKC’s mission of promoting responsible dog ownership and fostering positive relationships between dogs and their communities.

What is the CGC Program?

Dog looking something

The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program is a comprehensive ten-skill test to evaluate dogs and ensure they are well-behaved members of society. It addresses a broad spectrum of behaviors, ensuring dogs are polite, well-socialized, and exhibit good manners in various settings.

Ten-Skill Test

The ten skills tested in the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program involve laying out each skill in a structured format, providing a brief overview of what is assessed, and highlighting the significance of each skill in fostering a well-mannered dog.

Skill Tested

Overview of Assessment


Accepting a Friendly Stranger

The dog must remain calm and allow a stranger to approach and speak to the handler without showing signs of resentment or shyness.

Demonstrates the dog’s trust in people and ability to interact politely.

Sitting Politely for Petting

The dog must show it can sit politely while being petted by a stranger, without jumping up or showing avoidance.

Highlights the dog’s patience and acceptance of human contact.

Appearance and Grooming

Assesses the dog’s willingness to be examined and groomed, checking for the dog’s comfort with handling.

Important for health and hygiene, ensuring the dog is comfortable being cared for by vets or groomers.

Out for a Walk (Walking on a Loose Lead)

The dog needs to demonstrate it can follow the handler’s commands and walk on a loose leash without pulling.

Ensures the dog can be controlled and is responsive to the handler in public spaces.

Walking Through a Crowd

The dog must navigate through a crowd calmly and obediently, staying close to the handler without becoming agitated.

Prepares the dog for public outings, ensuring it remains well-behaved among people.

Sit and Down on Command and Staying in Place

The dog must obey the sit and down commands, then stay in place until released, showing discipline and control.

Demonstrates the dog’s obedience and ability to remain calm in a stationary position, even from a distance.

Coming When Called

Tests the dog’s response to the handler’s call from a distance, requiring the dog to come promptly when called.

Vital for safety, ensuring the dog will return to the handler.

Reaction to Another Dog

The dog must exhibit polite behavior and not be aggressive or overly excited when in the presence of other dogs.

Shows the dog’s social skills with other canines, ensuring it can interact safely.

Reaction to Distraction

The dog’s reaction to common distractions (e.g., loud noises) is tested to ensure it remains calm and does not panic.

Critical for the dog’s ability to handle unexpected situations without undue stress.

Supervised Separation

The dog must be comfortable being left with a trusted person for a brief period, without becoming anxious or stressed.

Assesses the dog’s independence and confidence, ensuring it can cope without its handler momentarily.


Eligibility and Requirements

A standout feature of the CGC program is its inclusivity. Open to dogs of all breeds and ages, the program embodies the AKC’s commitment to fostering well-behaved dogs universally. This openness ensures that every dog, from purebreds to mixed breeds, regardless of their background or age, can demonstrate their ability to be friendly, disciplined, and respectful community members.

Training and Preparation for the CGC Certification

dog training and preparation

Preparing for the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification presents an exciting journey for dog owners and their furry companions in the Bay Area. This certification path is not one-size-fits-all; rather, it encompasses a variety of training pathways tailored to meet the diverse needs and lifestyles of dogs and their owners.


For those who prefer a hands-on approach, self-training can be a rewarding experience. It allows owners to integrate training exercises into their daily routine, fostering a stronger bond with their dogs. Resources are plentiful, from online tutorials to CGC-specific training manuals, providing owners with the tools needed to guide their dogs through CGC skills at their own pace. However, this method requires a consistent commitment and a baseline knowledge of dog training principles to be effective.

Private Lessons

Private lessons with a professional dog trainer offer a personalized training experience. This method is particularly beneficial for dogs needing individual attention to address specific behavioral challenges or for owners seeking guidance tailored to their dog’s unique personality. Trainers can offer invaluable insights into the nuances of canine behavior, equipping owners with the strategies needed to navigate the CGC test successfully.

Group Classes

Group training classes offer a social dimension to CGC preparation, allowing dogs to practice skills in a setting that mimics real-world distractions. These classes allow dogs to learn obedience and manners in the presence of other dogs and people, closely mirroring the CGC test environment. Additionally, group classes can serve as a support network where owners share experiences and tips with fellow participants.

Finding CGC Classes in the Bay Area

owner with dog in a leash

In San Jose and the surrounding Bay Area, dog owners seeking to prepare their pets for the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification have a variety of specialized training centers and experienced trainers to choose from.

D for Dogz

Located in San Jose, CA, D for Dogz stands out as a premier destination for pet owners aiming to hone their dogs’ behavior and obedience. With a holistic approach to training, spearheaded by the passionate and experienced Kaajal Tiwary, D for Dogz offers tailored programs that address each dog’s unique challenges and needs.

This center is ideal for those looking to prepare their pets for the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification, offering a blend of online and in-person classes that cater to modern learning preferences

Offers a variety of training options, including CGC-focused classes, with a methodology that caters to both online and in-person learning needs.

Santa Clara Dog Training Club

It specializes in intermediate obedience and CGC preparation, leveraging over 50 years of experience for community-oriented training.

Orion Dog Training

 Emphasizes positive reinforcement across various classes, from puppy basics to CGC readiness.

Humane Society Silicon Valley

Targets older pups and adults with classes that refine manners and obedience for CGC testing.

Town and Country Dog Training Club

Combines positive reinforcement with various classes aimed at dog sports enthusiasts.

Benefits of CGC Certification

After obtaining the CGC certification, dogs are well-positioned to pursue further certifications and activities. These can include therapy dog certifications, which involve additional training and evaluation to prepare dogs for visiting hospitals, schools, and other settings to provide comfort and support. Dogs with CGC certification are also better candidates for advanced dog sports and competitions, such as agility, obedience, rallying, and tracking.

Additionally, the CGC certification can enhance a dog’s eligibility for more specialized training programs, leading to roles in search and rescue, service dog work, and more.

Below are the possible certifications a dog owner can pursue for their pet after gaining the CGC certification.


Further Certifications Descriptions Certificates and Training Required Used For
Therapy Dog Certifications Dogs are trained to provide emotional support in various settings. CGC certification, plus additional therapy dog training. Hospitals, schools, nursing homes
Advanced Dog Sports and Competitions Dogs compete in agility, obedience, and rally, showcasing teamwork and physical skills. CGC certification, plus sport-specific training. Competitive sports events
Search and Rescue Involvement Training for dogs to locate missing persons using scent and navigation skills. CGC certification, plus specialized search and rescue training. Search and rescue operations
Service Dog Training Specialized training for assisting individuals with disabilities. CGC certification, plus extensive service dog training. Assistance for individuals with disabilities
Scent Work Competitions Dogs compete by using their scenting abilities to find hidden scents. CGC certification, plus scent work training. Competitions, law enforcement (training aspect)
Advanced Obedience Titles Demonstrates advanced commands and control in various settings. CGC certification, plus advanced obedience training. Dog sports, advanced training evaluations
Trick Dog Titles Recognition for dogs who can perform a wide range of tricks. CGC certification, plus trick training. Entertainment, competitions, personal achievement



The American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program represents a transformative journey for dogs and their owners. It fosters a foundation of respect, understanding, and mutual trust that extends far beyond the testing arena into the wider community. By emphasizing discipline, socialization, and proper handling, the CGC certification process prepares dogs to be well-mannered citizens and opens doors to further achievements and specialized activities.

Embark on the rewarding journey towards achieving the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen certification with your furry companion by exploring D for Dog Training’s comprehensive range of services. From foundational puppy socials to specialized CGC preparation classes, our expert trainers in the Bay Area are dedicated to nurturing the bond between you and your dog, ensuring they become well-mannered members of society and poised for further achievements.

Don’t miss the opportunity to transform your dog into a model citizen—contact D for Dog Training today to learn more and register for a class that best fits your needs and aspirations.

About the Author: Kaajal Tiwary

Kaajal (aka “KT”!) loves puppies and is dedicated to getting new puppy guardians off on the right paw and guiding her students through the tough early days of owning a dog. Her goal? Transforming each bundle of raw puppy energy into the perfect adult companion. 

Contact Us