Sunday, August 25, 2013

Shiner & Guinness, CGC

Hooray for goals accomplished! Earlier this year I set out to do the CGC test with my two dogs, and boy howdy, we done done it!

Official Canine Good Citizens!
I've been looking at taking the test for a while, but wasn't sure I could pass it for a variety of reasons. So all summer, I've been "drilling" the dogs in the various exercises without actually doing any formal training. For instance, I've been making a real point of meeting and shaking hands with other leashed, polite dog owners as practice for the "reaction to another dog" exercise. I've been emphasizing the loose-leash walking. And so on.

Many thanks to the Big D Hunting Retriever Club, who hosted this evaluation during their health clinic.


Guinness' particular weak spot is reactivity with other dogs, particularly when he's leashed. As I was walking him out to the car to leave for this test, a large dog charged us from across the street. Breaking up a near-dog fight is not a promising way to kick the day off when you have a trial of any kind, let alone one where you're about to do a behavior test. We got to the test, and sure enough, Guinness was ready to rip the face off any dog that made the mistake of getting within 3 feet of him. I pulled out my secret weapon - his brush. Guinness is a huge attention whore and loves to be brushed, so I sat and just brushed him until he was a relaxed puddle of fur sprawled out on the concrete. We did some warmup obedience drills to get him ready, then did the classic dog show "hurry up and wait."

Now, for some reason, every time we have an obedience trial of any kind, Guinness acts kind of obstinate through the first round. Today's example was refusing to sit properly - every time I'd cue a "Sit!" he'd just lay down. Doesn't count, buddy. But we got one good sit, and I just let him sack out through the rest of the test - the more relaxed his body language, the better. The "meeting another dog" test was passed with flying colors, and 1 more exercise later, I can call myself the proud owner of an official Canine Good Citizen!


On to Shiner. Shiner's issues are basically the exact opposite of Guinness'. He is insanely friendly to everyone, but very easily overstimulated and hard to keep focused. We call it his "Terrier Brain." I pulled my bouncing, overly excitable dog out of his crate, watered him, then literally just ran up and down the sidewalk a few times to get the kinks out of his body and get him focused on my end of the leash. The biggest thing I reinforce Shiner for is actually paying attention to me, instead of everything around him.

We walked into the test, where Wiggle Butt was out in force. "OOH WHATS THAT SMELL!" "WOW THE FLOOR IS SLIPPERY!" "WHO'S THIS LADY, YAAAAY I GET TO SAY HI!" I kept him calm as possible, informed him that jumping was inappropriate, and he pretty much bounced his way through the whole test, alternating between working his moves and trying to keep it together. But he sailed right through all ten exercises on his first try, no repeats! What a good boy!

I gave them a celebratory half of a hotdog each, and took a picture to celebrate their accomplishments.