No Spring Break for these Studious Pups – it’s Canine Good Citizen Test Time!


School For Dogs!

Last Saturday, four eager pups and their humans headed to Southpaws University to take the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. The test is administered monthly at Southpaws Playschool.  The CGC test was first introduced by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1989.  Designed to stress responsible ownership and basic dog manners, the test rewards successful examinees who demonstrate good manners at home and in their communities. Sounds reasonable enough, but this test is tough, and requires that dogs meet all 10 elements which test interactions with humans and other dogs:

1.   Accepting a friendly stranger

2.   Sitting politely for petting         

3.   Appearance and grooming

4.   Walking on a loose lead

5.   Walking through a crowd

6.   Sit, down on command, and stay

7.   Coming when called

8.   Reaction to another dog

9.   Reaction to distraction; and

10.  Supervised separation

For details of each element, see

Humans may encourage dogs verbally and with hand signals, but no treats may be used to coax behavior.  Each dog must successfully complete all elements of the test in one try to be passed.  A dog may re-try only one of the 10 test requirements listed above and still pass. But, the good news is, the test is administered monthly at Southpaws, and the dogs may come back and take it until they pass!  It isn’t uncommon for nerves to get the best of a dogs’ humans, and often the test is not passed on the first try.  Once your canine pal passes the exam, he or she is rewarded with a certificate from the AKC.  Successful completion of the exam is often a prerequisite to becoming a therapy dog.

So, on a rather rainy Saturday, the four CGC certification hopefuls were Huey, Titan, Bella, and Jewels.  Everyone was excited and there was nervous energy in the air!   Who, if any, had the right stuff to become a CGC-certified pup?

Candidate #1 – Titan


Titan is a gentle giant who hails from East St. Louis.  Exuding the mental toughness needed to conquer the CGC drills, Titan was all business — and yet gentle as a lamb — as he made his way through the test.  As a young adult, Titan has in his three years become quite the hunk, weighing in at a masculine 94 pounds.  Accompanying Titan through the exam was his friend, Emily.  Laying down a nearly stellar performance, Titan’s Achilles’ paw was that pesky “down” command (he only started learning that one week prior to the test).  Titan and the judge talked it over, and Titan said he is going to polish just a couple of elements up for next time so that he is perfect.  See?  He’s all business.  We expect to see him back in action at next month’s test.  Way to go, Titan, you are nearly CGC-ready!

Titan tests for Appearance And Grooming

Emily Loose Leash Walks Titan!

Candidate #2 – Bella


Bringing her sweet disposition and sassy blue bandana to Saturday’s event was Bella, a lovely girl of approximately three years of age.  Bella also brought along her human, Todd, who tells us that Bella has no formal obedience training.  Well you wouldn’t know it based on her dazzling performance!  Bella was attentive, patient, and above all, sweet.  Her lovely disposition never changed, even when faced with the daunting element “walking on a loose leash.”  This element was a little trying, and so Bella is going to give it another go soon.  We can’t wait to see this girl again, because with her sunny attitude, she would make a fantastic therapy dog.  You go, Bella!

Bella Tests for Reaction to Another Dog.

Candidate #3 – Jewels


Jewels is as lovely as her name, and her doggie day care boyfriend Rascal would be the first to howl Jewels’ praises!  While Jewels was hesitant to reveal her age (she has suitors, you know), a source tells us she is around three years old.  Coming into Saturday’s challenge, Jewels had completed both the Love-A-Bull Basic and Advanced Obedience programs, and boy did her diligence pay off!  Jewels performed all 10 elements well enough to pass and become CGC-certified!  Her human Deborah was so proud, and both Jewels and Deborah looked forward to sharing the news with Rascal.  Jewels is on her way to try for a spot on The Pit Crew, Love-A-Bull’s all pittie therapy dog group.    WAY TO GO JEWELS! 

Jewels Sits While Accepting A Friendly Stranger!

Candidate #4 – Huey


Huey is a handsome, and dare I say dapper, year-and-a-half-old boy who lives with Stephanie and Zach.  Huey is a recent graduate of the Love-A-Bull Advanced Obedience class.  Rarin’ and ready to go, Huey sported a fetching blue bowtie that Stephanie made especially for the big day.  Huey undoubtedly wowed the spectators with his good looks, huge smile, and can-do attitude.

Huey did a fantastic job!  Huey has only a couple of little tweaks to make to his repertoire and then he will be back to claim his CGC certificate.  See you soon, Huey!

UPDATE!  Titan came back and took the test again.  He passed with flying colors.  Proof positive that one only needs to keep trying.  Both Titan and Jewels are registered for the Pit Crew, which starts next Saturday the 17th.  We will keep you updated on their progress, as well as all the new Pit Crew trainees!  I know we are all excited.  In the meantime, I know everyone will keep working until all the pups pass!  It is only a matter of time!

Lisa McClain

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