Thursday, May 6, 2010

CGC Class #3

"You always pass failure on the way to success" -- Mickey Rooney

Last night was Canine Good Citizen Class #3. After two weeks off due to bad weather, the weather gods smiled upon us with clear skies, relatively moderate temperatures, and a pleasant breeze.

The training gods smiled upon us as well by sending three lovely "strangers" our way (I'm dying to know what sort of sacrifice our instructor had to make to conjure them up... hopefully nothing requiring live pigeons or a sheep.)

The Good: (The Awesome?) That time spent at my local Big-Box Hardware store is really paying off. Zachary got up while being petting the very first time, but after that his rump was pretty much glued to the mat. In fact, he was so good, that the instructor upped the ante by having the strangers, upon revisiting, bend over and squeal "Puppy!" while patting their legs.

Any guesses what happened?

Get real, he is a Golden Retriever after all. But after reminding him where his rump was supposed to be (and the strangers toning it down just a smidgeon) he did manage to hold his sit.

His Recall was also pretty good, only failing once after several tries due to the topic you'll find under "Ugly" below. He did recover and was not a repeat offender.

He was also fine for grooming (brushing, ears and paws) and the Reaction to Distraction (clattering noise.)

The Bad: The item I think he is most likely to fail (indeed, I'll be shocked if he passes) is Supervised Separation, and he did struggle with that last night. The interesting thing (in a train-wreck watching sort of way) is that I'm not entirely sure the problem is me being Out of Sight. I think the problem is me Walking out the Gate.

Which leads to an equally interesting question with regards to the test - is the requirement simply being Out of Sight, or is the dog meant to think you are leaving them behind forever (ie: walking out the gate, over to my car, and hiding behind it.)

I'm suspicious that his distress is because I'm leaving the yard THROUGH THE GATE (ie: he thinks it's time to go home) and NOT that I'm not visible. I tried crouching down once behind an obstacle at an equal distance as the gate and he didn't seem nearly as troubled.

Then, for kicks, after we were done, I let him go and he headed straight for that gate! Hmmm....

The other sub-par thing was the Reaction to another dog - he's been better in the past, but he was obviously getting tired at this point and his brain was pretty close to checking out. It wasn't good, it wasn't ugly... more a "work in progress".

The Ugly: Ah, the ugly - just after the separation practicing, and perhaps because his mind was distracted, he fell into the sniffies. He found the mats the dogs lie on to be particularly enticing and wasn't really able to get over it. We'll need to search out "dog smells" this week and work to walk past them.

I consider this to be an ugly because it's just so darn hard to "fix".

Finally, on an observational note, I find it fascinating how people react so differently to Beau vs. Zachary. When the friendly strangers approached, they seemed to treat Zachary as something precious and delicate - soft cooing, a hand under the chin while the other gently stroked his head, all the while Zachary sat with his head turned upward gazing at the strangers (relatively) calmly and definitely adoringly.

Contrast that with a typical Beau greeting, where people don their protective gear and call out "I'm going in!" as they quickly bridge the Danger Zone (where one one swing of his massive head can give you a fat lip) and get close enough for serious ear ruffling, big hugs, and lots of loud pats on his shoulders and sides, all the while Beau is grinning from ear to ear with his tongue lolling out - that is, until he flops over for a vigorous belly rub.

Not really relevant to the topic of this post, but I do find it interesting.


katie, Maizey and Magnus said...

A completely "uneducated" observation as I have never taken a CGC class, but I just have to say I would think it would be hard for many dogs if their person seemed to be leaving out the door/gate etc that they were used to going home through. For example when we leave Meeka at her dog sitters she never wants us to leave through the back door with out her. It's my good friends house and even when we stay there several days with her she still does not want us to go out the "bye, stay home" door that we normally leave through.

I don't imagine there is another entrance you could go out of that he would not associate so strongly w/ "leaving" for good? Or could you practice that kind of leaving there or other places so he was more adjusted to it?

Just a couple of thoughts from a beginner. . .We are glad he is doing so good!

BZ Dogs said...

I'm going to have to try going out of sight somewhere else for the next class - somewhere not associated with THAT gate. Not sure where I can go - not many thing to choose from - but perhaps just a blanket thrown over some chairs and ducking behind that will do. There is another gate that we almost never go through - perhaps I can hang a blanket over the fence to hide behind there.

No class this week, so I have some time to be clever. :)