Thursday, May 27, 2010

CGC Class #5

The Last Class

Last night was the last Canine Good Citizen class before the test, and Wendy (putting aside her puckish ways of Last Week) did a complete dry run of the test. The fact she was the "stranger" (easier) and we were in a group setting (harder) probably offset one another.

My assessment:

1. Accepting a Friendly Stranger - passed
2. Sitting Politely for Petting - passed
3. Appearance and Grooming - passed
4. Out for A Walk (loose leash) - I wouldn't have passed him (Wendy seemed iffy.)
5. Walking through a crowd - failed (but...)
6. Sit and Down on Command and Staying in Place - passed
7. Coming when Called - passed
8. Reaction to Another Dog - can I blame the tester's dog for distracting my dog?   :)
9. Reaction to Distraction - passed (both sound and sight)
10 Supervised Separation - total fail


1. I need to make sure he's firmly sitting and focused. If I rush this one, he'll move.
2. Even more critical than #1. Saying "Leave it!" as the stranger nears still seems to help.
3. If you extend your right hand, he will give you his left paw, extend your left hand and he gives your right paw. I need to remind the tester of this, else Zachary is confused and keeps offering the paw that matches the hand you are extending. Not a fail, but it just makes things easier.
4. Zachary was really distracted before this even started (ie: I didn't "have a dog") and wasn't even thinking about me. While he did redeem himself at the end, it was sill ugly. (See Further Practice below)
5. Same problem as #4 above, but there were dogs in this crowd, which was harder than the test. We did this right after #4, and I still didn't "have a dog".
6. No problems.
7. No problems.
8. Back to "didn't have a dog" - his lack of focus was evident from step one.
9. More alert than I would have guessed, but behaved appropriately.
10. On the first try he made it 1.5 minutes, and this is probably close to what he will do on the final test.

Further Practice:

The remainder of class was spent with us working on those things that needed the most work. Zachary had several more attempts at Supervised Separation, and made it to 2 minutes on one of them. I discovered that when I slowed my walking down he was quite focused, heads-up, and wonderful on the leash. When I strode out I totally lost him.


I also found that if I slowed down he stayed focused on me even as he was approaching other dogs.

Weird again.

As for Separation, he really doesn't like it when I go out the gate, and once I go out the gate and come back, he really wants to go out the gate, too, and it takes a lot to get him focused again.


If I was a betting person, I would say that he will easily fail Supervised Separation (and thus not pass the test.) There's a good chance of him failing the Reaction to Another Dog unless I get good focus from him. I'm going to try to cram for Leash Walking this week as I think he's close enough to warrant the extra push on this.

He has come such a looooong way since the start of the class (a looooong time ago - due to unexpected rain!) The things that I really wanted from this class - appropriate greeting behaviors - have gone from a quick fail to a good chance of passing. I have been really impressed by his stays and long distance recalls. I am surprised he has handled the distractions so well.

The only area where I didn't see much improvement was his "Reaction to Another Dog" - he still is far too interested in saying "Hi" to the other dog (those darned Friendly Genes.)

Next week Zachary and I will take the real Canine Good Citizen Test, which marks more of a beginning than an end. Being a Good Citizen requires practice (for all of us!) but opens so many doors. My son is going to start driver's training soon, and I can't help but note the similarities. The culmination of that training - the right of passage known as a Driver's License - does not mean my son will be a perfect driver under all circumstances, just as passing the CGC Test would not mean Zachary would be a perfect dog under all circumstances.

Likewise, failure to pass (by either party) is neither a permanent condition nor something to be ashamed of. Rather, it simply means that more work needs to be done and the test retaken.

(Still, it would be nice...)

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