The National A.K.C. Responsible Dog Ownership Day is celebrated every third Saturday of September and this year, it falls on September 17. The day is launched by the American Kennel Club and is designed for pet parents — particularly dog parents, to take a break and reminisce on the commitments they have made to their furry friends. It is a day that encourages people to commit to their loyal dogs and about the obligations we have to our pets. Most partnering organizations who are the stakeholders of National A.K.C. Responsible Dog Ownership Day host this day around the same time, but not necessarily on the same date.

History of National AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day

Dogs have been around for quite a long time, and have come a long way from an ancient family of wolves to domesticated animals and “man’s best friend.” Scientists posit that the domestication of dogs is one of the greatest events to have occurred in human history. However, many scientists also agree that there is evidence of various independent domestication events all over the world — making it very difficult to pinpoint a date for the evolution of domestic dog breeds.

According to expert scientific research, dog domestication dates back about 40,000 years ago. Studies on dog fossils from this period show a relation to modern European dogs. The changes in those specimens versus present-day dogs have led to scientists putting the period of domestication between 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. These dogs then moved about with migrating humans, breeding, and interbreeding to evolve into the current canine breeds. Regarding the “how” of dog domestication, there is no common consensus. Some theories believe people somehow captured wolf pups and kept them as pets, gradually domesticating them. Another theory believes wolves are self-domesticated, with the friendliest integrating themselves with the hunter-gatherers of that age.

The American Kennel Club (A.K.C.), a not-for-profit organization operating in the U.S., maintains a registry of purebred dogs around the world. The A.K.C. also oversees the sport of purebred dogs in the U.S. The A.K.C. began organizing Responsible Dog Ownership Days annually across the U.S., hosting the flagship event in Raleigh, North Carolina each year, and inviting affiliated dog clubs and pet organizations to host their own Dog Ownership events.

National AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day timeline


The A.K.C. is Established

The American Kennel Club is established by J. M. Taylor and Elliot Smith, who meet at the Philadelphia Kennel Club.


The National Dog Show Launches

The National Dog Show, a canine competition aired on national T.V. and sanctioned by both the P.K.C. and A.K.C., is launched in 2002.


Inaugural Responsible Dog Ownership Day

The first-ever National A.K.C. Responsible Dog Ownership Day takes place in September 2003.


15th Anniversary of R.D.O.D.

The National A.K.C. Responsible Dog Ownership Day marks its 15th anniversary in 2018.

National AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day FAQs

What are my responsibilities as a dog owner?

A dog owner is responsible for food, water, walks, exercise, clean-up, and grooming.

Is having a dog a big responsibility?

Dog parenting takes a lot of time, money, and commitment — over 15 years worth, in many instances. Becoming a dog parent can be extremely gratifying, but it’s also a big responsibility.

What are the benefits of pet ownership?

There are many health benefits of owning a pet — they can increase opportunities to exercise, get outside, and socialize.

National AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day Activities

  1. Keep up with your pet-care routine

    National A.K.C. Responsible Dog Ownership Day is a great day to keep up with, maintain, or refresh your pet-care routine for your furry friend. See what you can do today for your pup!

  2. Attend an A.K.C. event

    Attend any of the dog events organized by the American Kennel Club or any of its affiliates. Not only is it entertaining, but it’s a great way to showcase what dogs can do.

  3. Share on social media

    Share moments with your dog on social media using the #ResponsibleDogOwnershipDay hashtag. Invite your family and friends to follow suit.

5 Facts About Dogs You Should Know

  1. Heightened sense of smell

    Dogs can smell between 1,000 to 100,000 times better than us humans, as their olfactory senses are up to 40 times as active as ours.

  2. Incredible swimming ability

    Many dogs have been noted to have saved people from drowning as a result of their great swimming ability.

  3. Super sensitive hearing

    They can hear higher-pitched sounds and can pick up sound frequencies that are well beyond human capacity.

  4. They have amazing speed

    The fastest breed of dog, the Greyhound, is capable of running at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour and can maintain that speed over a seven-mile distance.

  5. They are intelligent animals

    Little pups can pick up as many as 100 words as they grow, and as such, they can understand basic instructions as well as concentrated training for specific roles.

Why We Love National AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day

  1. Dogs are cute

    Dogs are so cute and we just always want to scoop them up and give them a rub! Show your appreciation for your dog on this day by giving them some extra love.

  2. Dogs are domestically useful

    Dogs are really useful around the home. They can be utilized as guard dogs, guide dogs, and companions.

  3. They are therapeutic

    Studies have shown that owning a dog can be therapeutic. We love this!

National AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day dates

Year Date Day
2022 September 17 Saturday
2023 September 16 Saturday
2024 September 21 Saturday
2025 September 20 Saturday
2026 September 19 Saturday

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly
to your inbox.