The Companion Dog Excellent title is the second or middle level of obedience training, between the “Companion Dog” and “Utility Dog” levels. It is also referred to as “Open” obedience.

A dog earning this title can add the “CDX” suffix to his official AKC name. To earn this title a dog must properly perform five individual exercises, as well as two group stay exercises (done with the handlers out of sight for this level!).


Heel Free –The dog and handler performs an off-leash heeling pattern which includes fast/slow/normal paces, turns and halts (as in the previous level, the dog must sit in the heel position at each halt). The team then completes a Figure 8 around two people as the 2nd part of the exercise.

Gabe & I prepare to begin our heeling exercise…


Gabe is focused and ready to heel during the Figure 8 portion of the Heel Free exercise…

2. DROP ON RECALL–the dog is left on a sit/stay at one end of the ring, the handler walks to the other side of the ring and on the judge’s command calls or signals the dog to come, then commands or signals the dog to drop (down) partway along the return at the judge’s signal. The dog is then called the rest of the way to the handler.

3. RETRIEVE ON FLAT–the dog waits beside the handler while he/she throws a dumbbell about 20′ away, then is sent to retrieve it. The dog returns to the front of the handler and continues to hold the dumbbell until the handler asks for its release (all at the command of the judge), then goes back into the heel position when commanded/signaled.

Gabe waits patiently for my command to retrieve his dumbbell…

Gabe grabs his dumbbell and prepares to return…

4. RETRIEVE OVER HIGH JUMP–basically the same as the former retrieve, except that the dog must go over a jump (most dogs jump their height, but bulldogs being a heavier-bodied breed are allowed to jump 3/4 their height)

Here I am about to give Gabe a “stay” command before throwing the dumbbell…

Gabe approaches the jump…

…makes his landing on the other side (notice his eyes are closed for this! happy.gif

…returns with his prize (and is heading for the jump, rather than around it as required happy.gif

UP and…


…and makes his delivery! (note that he is positioned straight in front of me–points are taken off for crooked sits, being out of position, too far away, etc.)

Gabe gets a much deserved pat/praise between exercises–this is allowed as long as you can maintain control of your dog!

5. BROAD JUMP–the handler leaves the dog on a sit/stay, while he/she walks over to the side of the broad jump (which consists of a low, wide jump that spans double the distance of the high jump height), then sends the dog over the jump (no cutting corners, stepping on boards, etc.) where they land, then come back around towards the handler (who has now turned to face their dog)…sorry, no photos of this one!

And, finally, the dogs are brought back into the ring for Group Stays, which include a Three-Minute Sit, followed by a Five-Minute Down, all done with the handlers out of sight. Dogs are set up approximately 3-4′ apart along one side of the ring (this can be up to 12 dogs, depending on the size of the class), handlers place their dogs in the appropriate position at the command of the judge, then leave them on a stay while they file out of the ring to a place that is out of sight of their dogs. The dog is “released” briefly between exercises, only after the handler has returned to heel position and the judge has called “Exercise Finished”.

Gabe is shown doing his out-of-sight sit/stay during the Group Exercises


“I’ll sit, but I don’t have to be HAPPY about it!”
(this guy sure knows how to put on a good “pout”, doesn’t he? happy.gif )

As in any of the other levels, a dog must pass every exercise earning at least 170 out of the possible 200 points–and perform it all on the first command/signal from their handler. It takes three qualifying scores to earn a title.

*Gabe currently has his CDX title

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