Today we went to the in-laws house. Since I haven't worked in over a year, my spoiled brats have gotten very used to me being around a lot, and have gotten even more attached to me. For those of you who know how clingy Great Danes are, it's gotten impressively bad. I walked Coral into the in-laws house while my husband walked Duke in. I was a few feet in front, and Duke was being difficult so my husband stopped walking briefly to get him to calm down. Duke screamed like a little girl because I continued walking and was about to go into the house. A horrible, high-pitched, blood-curling scream. Things were not looking good for CGC, since one of the tests he has to pass is "Supervised separation." The owner hands the leash to the evaluator, who is a stranger to the dog. And then the owner leaves the room for 3 minutes. The dog may not bark, whine, pace excessively, or show anything other than mild nervousness. While screaming is not specifically listed, I'm guessing it's frowned upon.
Later in the day, Duke and I attended the CGC class. We covered a number of the tests for CGC.
Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger
This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The evaluator walks up to the dog and handler and greets the handler in a friendly manner, ignoring the dog. The evaluator and handler shake hands and exchange pleasantries. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness, and must not break position or try to go to the evaluator.
I haven't really done much training with Duke in the past year, so he was rusty. As the trainer approached to greet me, he did start to get up to greet her. A quick verbal correction, and he was back on his bottom behaving nicely though.
Test 2: Sitting politely for petting
This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. With the dog sitting at the handler's side, to begin the exercise, the evaluator pets the dog on the head and body. The handler may talk to his or her dog throughout the exercise. The dog may stand in place as it is petted. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.
Duke did well on this part of the test. But he does know the trainer, so it's not quite the same as if a stranger came up to him. He's a little cautious when strangers come up to him, but once they start petting him, he warms up very quickly.
Test 3: Appearance and grooming
This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so. It also demonstrates the owner's care, concern and sense of responsibility. The evaluator inspects the dog to determine if it is clean and groomed. The dog must appear to be in healthy condition (i.e., proper weight, clean, healthy and alert). The handler should supply the comb or brush commonly used on the dog. The evaluator then softly combs or brushes the dog, and in a natural manner, lightly examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. It is not necessary for the dog to hold a specific position during the examination, and the handler may talk to the dog, praise it and give encouragement throughout.
Note to self. Buy a brush. Since the beasts have short hair, I've actually never brushed them. The trainer had a brush though, and she used that on him. She held her hands out in a very similar way as Duke's hand signal to shake, so he kept offering her his paw while she was checking his ears and brushing him. Silly boy.
Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog may be on either side of the handler. The dog's position should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to the handler's movements and changes of direction. The dog need not be perfectly aligned with the handler and need not sit when the handler stops. The evaluator may use a pre-plotted course or may direct the handler/dog team by issuing instructions or commands. In either case, there should be a right turn, left turn, and an about turn with at least one stop in between and another at the end. The handler may talk to the dog along the way, praise the dog, or give commands in a normal tone of voice. The handler may sit the dog at the halts if desired.
Duke did well on loose leash walking. He always does at the training facility. Since I'm a bad, bad owner who doesn't walk her dogs regularly, he wasn't perfect, but it was respectable.
Test 5: Walking through a crowd
This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three). The dog may show some interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with the handler, without evidence of over-exuberance, shyness or resentment. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise the dog throughout the test. The dog should not jump on people in the crowd or strain on the leash.
We didn't get to this today. With the exception of the trainer, everyone had a dog, so it's hard to do this test. Walking through a crowd of humans and walking through a crowd of dogs can be a bit different, especially when we have two dogs in the class who are not dog-friendly, and one (Duke) who's not quite aggressive, but a bit nervous around new dogs. He typically does well when we're in a more controlled environment though, and there aren't crazy loose dogs around.
Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place
This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler's commands to sit and down and will remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers). The dog must do sit AND down on command, then the owner chooses the position for leaving the dog in the stay. Prior to this test, the dog's leash is replaced with a line 20 feet long. The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to get the dog to sit and then down. The evaluator must determine if the dog has responded to the handler's commands. The handler may not force the dog into position but may touch the dog to offer gentle guidance. When instructed by the evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward the length of the line, turns and returns to the dog at a natural pace. The dog must remain in the place in which it was left (it may change position) until the evaluator instructs the handler to release the dog. The dog may be released from the front or the side.
After verifying if there was a time limit on how long a dog could take to sit and down, Duke did great at this. He knows his commands, but sometimes it takes a ridiculously long time for his bottom to hit the ground once it starts it's descent. And even longer for his body to hit the ground when he starts going into a down. Time to grab the treatbag and work on speeding up the response.
Test 7: Coming when called
This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog. The handler may use encouragement to get the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell dogs to "stay" or "wait" or they may simply walk away, giving no instructions to the dog.
We didn't cover this today, but Duke will do well at this. Momma's boys always do.
Test 8: Reaction to another dog
This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.
We didn't work on this one today, but this one could get interesting. Duke does want to say hi to other dogs. Immediately afterwards though, he gets nervous, especially if they seem very interested in him. He's silly like that. He's gotten a bit better since I started taking him to FrisbeeDog meetings, since there's tons of dogs around, and they're all far more interested in Frisbees than they are in him. I need to work with him on that, and be better about walking him, so he sees, but learns to ignore other dogs.
Test 9: Reaction to distraction
This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations. The evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity and/or may appear slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise it throughout the exercise.
The trainer stood in the middle of the room and dropped a big metal bowl. I jumped. Fortunately, Duke did better than I did. His head did pop up and look in the direction of the bowl, but he didn't get up.
Test 10: Supervised separation
This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, "Would you like me to watch your dog?" and then take hold of the dog's leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness. Evaluators may talk to the dog but should not engage in excessive talking, petting, or management attempts (e.g, "there, there, it's alright").
This is the test that I'm really worried about. Especially after his little performance at my in-laws house earlier in the day. We didn't go over this in class today, but after class I handed the leash to one of the trainers and walked out of the room briefly to start working on this with Duke. He did fine. BUT, he knows and likes the trainer. The person actually giving the the CGC test will be a stranger. But working with him on this with a trusted individual is at least a step in the right direction. Once he gets used to me disappearing, but then always reappearing, he should get comfortable enough to wait patiently with a stranger as well as a friend.
Overall, Duke did well, especially since I haven't worked with him in such a long time, but there's still room for improvement. I was watching him like a hawk, and in an ideal situation, I need to be able to relax and know that he behaves appropriately. There's certainly plenty of time between now and the test to work out the kinks though.
2 hours ago