Test Prep for Carl

September 5, 2011  

An over-exuberant pit bull becomes a star pupil as he works toward his Canine Good Citizen certification

By Coleen Hill

We decided to have our pit bull mix, Carl, attend a Canine Good Citizen prep class after learning I was pregnant. Carl had been through basic obedience (twice), but still suffered from “an overabundance of friendliness,” as our trainer put it. We wanted Carl to master the basics and learn some impulse control.

Each of the 10 tests posed some problem for Carl. Sitting politely to greet a friendly stranger required impulse control. I implemented his already solid “stay” command to keep him in a sit while I shook hands with the trainer. Carl picks up on routine quickly and learned that she was going to ask for his paw during the “appearance and grooming” portion. Carl somehow remained in a sit while giving the trainer both paws! Carl is an overachiever.

Walking on a loose leash has always been a problem for Carl. He has such a zest for life; he can’t help but bound out the door and down the sidewalk, dragging whoever happens to be holding the other end of the leash along behind him. Our prep class was also held outside, so there were so many different smells and tastes on the sidewalk out there. Our trainer advised me to teach a solid “watch me” command and essentially have Carl walk in heel position the whole time.

The easiest portion of the test was the sit, down, stay and come section. As I said before, Carl’s sit down and stay were already solid because we always make our dogs sit and stay while we dish our their kibble, and they must wait for the OK command before they can begin to eat. Carl’s coming when called command wasn’t so solid, but when he realized he got dehydrated turkey when he came to me, it got hard to practice the command because he wouldn’t leave my side, lest he miss out on some treats!

Reaction to another dog was also challenging. Carl thinks everyone is his new best friend – from the shop owner next door to our apartment, to the centipede he found crawling across the kitchen floor. So getting Carl to sit and stay while I shook hands with another dog handler really tested his impulse control. The “watch me” and “stay” commands got us through that one … barely.

Carl’s reaction to distraction was a big surprise. For being a “big, bad pit bull,” Carl is quite the chicken. If I so much as slam a cabinet door too hard at home, Carl has taken off, and I will often find him hiding in the bedroom closet. However, when our trainer had us walk past her, and she dropped an empty metal bowl from knee-height, Carl was checking it out and looking for food.

Carl has yet to actually take the official test, but going through the Canine Good Citizen preparation gave both of us more confidence.

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5 Responses to “Test Prep for Carl”
  1. CassyLemon says:

    This gives me hope! My boy Leo has pretty much identical situations as Carl does (LOVE the name by the way). Over-friendly, thinks everyone is there to see him, little bit of a scared-y cat, leash tugger when walking, etc. I am in th works of getting him in a class and it gives me great excitement to know that Leo isn’t the only one 🙂 Great post!

  2. StubbyDog says:

    @CassyLemon Thanks Cassy, with a little patience and direction, we are sure Leo will pass his CGC or at least be very well behaved. 🙂

  3. Jagger says:

    @CassyLemon It took me three tries at the CGC before I passed! Taking the class twice and lots of love and practice is what worked for me. Good luck Leo! I know you can do it!

  4. JoshLiddySwayLove says:

    Carl is adorable… For all LA folks, DownTownDogRescue is doing free CGC tests on 9/25 and they love when people bring their pitties out!

  5. StubbyDog says:

    @JoshLiddySwayLove Thanks for the info Josh!