A.K.C. STAR Puppy Program

Robert Forto

Robert Forto

@robertforto | Executive producer and co-host of Dog Works Radio

Join host Michele Forto as she discusses the American Kennel Club’s S.T.A.R. Puppy Program on Dog Works Radio.

Did you know that starting your new pup in training is one of the most important things you can do to set them up for success? At Alaska Dog Works we offer the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy program as a stand-alone course as well as part of our Peak Performance Puppy Program. This podcast will help get you started on a road to success with your new puppy!

What we talk about on this episode:

  • What is the AKC STAR Puppy Program
  • What will my puppy learn in the program?
  • Behind the Breed: Bull Mastiff

Hello and welcome to Dog Works Radio. I am Michele Forto, and I am the lead trainer of Alaska Dog Works. Here we help humans and their dogs have better relationships. On today’s show, we are going to talk about the American Kennel Club’s S.T.A.R. Puppy Program. It is the first program in the series that can assist you in developing an awesome relationship with your new puppy and all the way through to a well-balanced dog that will behave well in public and even move into working or volunteer programs such as service work and therapy dogs. It is important to start with a rock-solid foundation and the STAR Puppy Program can do just that.

Let’s dive right in…

AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy: 20 Steps for Success

The AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy program focuses on all the things every puppy and owner need to have a great start together.

STAR stands for Socialization, Training, Activity and a responsible owner and in six weeks of STAR puppy classes, puppies and dogs learn the following behaviors and skills:


  1. Maintains puppy’s health (vaccines, exams, appears healthy)
  2. The owner receives Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge
  3. The owner describes an adequate daily play and exercise plan
  4. Owner and puppy attend at least 6 classes by an AKC Approved CGC Evaluator
  5. The owner brings bags to classes for cleaning up after puppy
  6. The owner has obtained some form of ID for a puppy-collar tag, etc.


  1. Free of aggression toward people during at least 6 weeks of class
  2. Free of aggression toward other puppies in class
  3. Tolerates collar or body harness of owner’s choice
  4. The owner can hug or hold the puppy (depending on size)
  5. Puppy allows the owner to take away a treat or toy


  1. Allows (in any position) petting by a person other than the owner
  2. Grooming-Allows owner handling and brief exam (ears, feet)
  3. Walks on a Leash-Follows owner on lead in a straight line (15 steps)
  4. Walks by other people-Walks on leash past other people 5-ft away
  5. Sits on command-Owner may use a food lure
  6. Down on command-Owner may use a food lure
  7. Comes to owner from 5-ft when the name is called
  8. Reaction to Distractions-distractions are presented 15-ft away
  9. Stay on leash with another person (owner walks 10 steps and returns)

AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy prepares pups to move on to Canine Good Citizen training. For example, in STAR, puppies must walk on a leash in a straight line. In CGC, the task becomes more advanced with dogs walking in a pattern that includes right and left turns and stops.

The skills in AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy classes are practical and functional. Teaching puppies to tolerate grooming, handling, and basic exams of the ears, feet, and mouth will result in well-mannered puppies that veterinarians are happy to see.

If you would like to learn how to make your dog one of the best, please visit our website at Alaska Dog Works and be sure to follow us on our social channels, just search dog works radio.

Did you know that the single best thing you can do is tell your family and friends about our show? Let them know how to listen and maybe they will become one of our rabid fans too.

Host, Michele Forto’s Bio: Michele Forto is the lead trainer for Alaska Dog Works where they train dogs for service work, obedience, and more. Michele is also the business manager and husky wrangler for Team Ineka. When Michele is not training dogs she loves to travel on their annual Rock n Roller Tours where she and Robert hit up rock concerts and roller coasters around the country.

Host, Robert Forto’s Bio: Robert Forto is the training director for Alaska Dog Works where they train dogs for canine obedience, working dogs, therapy dogs, and service dogs for clients all over North America. He is also a dog musher and he and his wife operate a 36-dog mushing kennel in Willow, Alaska, called Team Ineka. They can often be seen at local races and leading expeditions in the Alaska backcountry with outdoor leadership students at the University of Alaska. Robert is the producer of Dog Works Radio that has been on the air since 2009 and is currently simulcast on a local radio station, KVRF in Palmer, Alaska.

Links and Resources Mentioned: 

Thanks for Listening! We appreciate your visiting our site today and for help in bringing awareness to the Dog Works Radio podcast 

Where we are going? (In real life)

  • Rock n Roller Coaster Tour 21 #rocknroller21 to live host The Coaster Geeks Podcast
  • Podcast Movement 21 in Nashville in August #PM21
  • Podcast Movement 22 in Dallas #PM22

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So if you want to get the most out of the relationship with your dog, listen to our podcast, Dog Works Radio, take some notes and check out our Peak Performance Training Program!

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Robert Forto

Robert Forto

@robertforto | Executive producer and co-host of Dog Works Radio

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