Monday, June 01, 2009

Canine Good Citizen

Star got her Canine Good Citizen title yesterday.

It was a total shocker. I felt we were still unprepared.

Items I thought she would fail: neutral dog approach (convinced she would not resist the dog), major distraction (sure she would bark), loose leash walk (new places mean sniff-and-drag), neutral stranger approach (would not stay seated).

Then I heard about the upcoming test and I thought, hell, why not give it a shot? We can always take it again later if we need to. And I'll find out what test items are her weaknesses.

Still, day of the test, I took extra steps to make sure she performed her best.

We went to the dog park early that morning, and she ran rampant with a crowd of dogs for almost an hour. I sincerely hoped this would reduce her enthusiasm for a neutral dog approaching during the test.

We got to the test site an hour early. I wanted her to be familiar and bored with this new place by the time the test started, to prevent sniff-and-drag and to minimize her distraction.

During this hour, we practiced sit, down, walk, stay, and come relentlessly.

We also strolled casually by the little Dachshund being used for the neutral dog test--twice. Star was interested, but she kept walking. I was pleasantly surprised.

Unfortunately, we over-practiced, and as the sun climbed, Star got too hot. The really stupid move was when Byrd took her on a short jog. That was her limit. With only twenty minutes until the test, she stopped obeying commands and just stood there, panting. All the water and treats in the world couldn't get her back on track. Screwed.

We put Star back in the car and ran the A/C full blast. Finally, she cooled down enough and started responding to treats again. Whew!

The test went smoothly.

During the neutral dog approach, Star craned her neck to peer at the little Dachshund walking past--but she didn't cross in front or pull on the leash.

I had a near heart attack when it came time for "sit." Star was still too hot, and I had no treats (can't use treats during the test) to lure, and it looked like she simply was not going to sit down. After almost a dozen "sit" commands, I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw her butt hit the dirt. She collapsed straight into a "down" without any argument.

I was blown away when I returned from the last test--the supervised separation--to the evaluator's extended hand, and the words "Congratulations. Your dog is a Canine Good Citizen."


Raising Addie said...


Congratulations Star!!!

What will you be doing next with your title? Therapy dog work?

Everyone would just love you!!!

Chasing my tale...
Addie, Lucie, and Hailey

Princess said...


You couldn't have picked a better name for your girl! She's a total 'star'. Congrats on all your hard work and for being such great pit bull parents.

Couldn't be happier for your family!

Do you know what ages they typically like to do this training testing for dogs? I'm worried Princess is too old and not sure she could fully do the neautral dog part.

~P's Mom

Janet, Gus, & Gracie said...

Congratulation Star!! That is a big accomplishment!

Gus has his CGC. Ironically he is now attending a reactive dog class - because well, because rather than a good citizen, he has become a reactive citizen. Hopefully we can work through this.

Life With Dogs said...

Very close call, and congrats for the win and for keeping your cool!

happypitbull said...

Princess's mom: You can take the CGC when your dog is any age. I would totally take Dozer (age 8) if I didn't know he would totally, definitely, absolutely fail. The trick with the neutral dog test is to try and keep your dog's attention elsewhere. You can be very rude to the evaluator and neutral dog as they pass; call your dog, keep her eye contact, and give commands if you want. Whatever it takes to keep her focused on you and not the other dog.

Addie's mom: Yep! Star is in Delta therapy classes. Although she is already qualified to work with some local therapy groups because she has her CGC, I've decided to aim a bit higher and make sure she has plenty of training before she actually starts working as a therapy dog.

forsythia said...

Hooray for Star. Our joint-custody pit bull sure would have benefited from Good Citizen training when he was a youngster. He's now 10 and a bit too set in his ways

Kembree said...

that is wonderful! I have a friend that their Pit Bull is a canine good citizen too! Yea for positive pit bulls!

Dennis the Vizsla said...

hello star its dennis the vzsla dog hay congratchoolayshuns on yore gud sittizen award!!! duz this meen that yoo git to vote and kollekt soshul sekyoority now??? oh boy i got to git me wun of those!!! ok bye

Anonymous said...

STANDING OVATION (with applause). Congrats! Daisy and I passed the dry run last Thursday, our real test is next Thursday. The problem is now because of her injury I can't run her before hand, which I totally planned to do, like you did with Star, so I am keeping my fingers crossed!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Jennifer! I know that you have worked so hard. I know that it helps that Star is really a star. :)

But you have to be willing to put in the hard work.

Leila (Quizz's mom)