Winn and I did it! She got her CGC!
CGC stands for Canine Good Citizen. She and I met with a CGC evaluator and we had to pass several requirements without the aid of treats.
This was our second attempt, the first time, well that didn’t go so well.
Winn and I enrolled in puppy school when she was about 12 weeks old. She proved to be a quick learner. She really loves treats and rewards, making her very responsive when learning new commands. After we completed the course and she passed her AKC S.T.A.R. puppy test, we moved on to basic obedience classes. We quickly progressed up through the levels and after about 8 weeks, found ourselves prepping for the CGC test.
We took several practice tests, each time she did really well. We were so ready for this test and I had no worries about passing!
That day, when we walked in, I was so confident of success but Winn had a different idea. There was so much distraction, and I wasn’t allowed to regain her attention with a treat. Once she realized there were no treats, she completely checked out and was far more interested in watching and meeting all of the dogs that were being escorted in and out of day care. Mid-way through, after failing 3 of the first 5 tasks, I grabbed my treat bag and we continued on, using it as another training opportunity.
Did we over train? Did I push too hard too fast? Did I expect too much? I decided to let it go for a while. We enrolled in a rally class which allowed us to continue to bond as a team while we practiced and learned more obedience tricks. We had fun together and she continued to impress me with her willingness to learn. We entered a couple of rally trials and did really well, even getting her AKC Rally Novice title!Then, we went back to training and worked a little more. This time, taking it more slowly, mixing in our rally class and keeping a sense of humor. After 7 weeks, I scheduled another test. Two days before our test she went into heat! I checked with our trainer and she could test as long as she wore “feminine protection”. I knew this might be distracting for her but I decided to go. I figured if we didn’t pass, we still had one more week on our training package, we could review and try again. If we still didn’t get it, I’d just put it aside for while.
I left Winn in the car while I filled out the paperwork for the test. I didn’t want to bring her in until our evaluator was ready for us. We were quickly whisked into the private training room, walking by the main training ring that was filled with a beginner obedience class. Instantly there was a chorus of barking and howling dogs. I caught the eye of the trainer in charge of that class and she had a look of surprise about what had just happened. As the door was closed behind us, I burst out laughing. It really is a thing, a girl in heat will drive the boys crazy!I was a little nervous but Winn was calm, cool and collected. One by one, she performed each task perfectly. I went in knowing we might fail, but she proved me wrong and made me so proud.
These are the some of the components of the CGC test (these pictures and videos were from our last class before we scheduled the test for the first time, about 4 months ago):
- Meet and greet a stranger: she has to sit and stay by my side while I meet someone and then do it again and let them pet her and touch her ears, mouth and feet. This was generally pretty easy but a couple of times when she was tired she barked at the stranger. She is still a puppy, even if she is a big one, so we kept working on it to make her more comfortable. After lots and lots of practice with strangers, we are both finally confident about this task.
- One of the most challenging steps was approaching another dog and owner, sitting quietly while we talked and then walking away without lunging or approaching the other dog. This was the hardest aspect of the test for Maisie, Winn did pretty well in practice but often times she tries to kiss the other dog. She passed this perfectly, meeting a dog we had never met before. I was so proud.
- Winn had to sit and stay (this can also be done with a down if that is easier for the dog) while I walked away and remain sitting while I walked back towards her and returned to her side. I walked away again and then called her, she should come quickly, then she must stop and sit in front of me without mowing me down and finish with a sit on my left side.
- One of the most important aspects is loose leash walking. With a dog of Winn’s size and strength, leash manners are a must. We work together on and off leash, and she is such a good walker, in training sessions and around the neighborhood. For the test, we had to follow commands called out by the evaluator and also had to walk with a loose leash through a crowd.
- The final component is supervised separation. I needed to leave her and be out of sight for 3 minutes. She can’t panic, bark, whine or pull away. She had no problem with this and waited patiently for me to return.
So here we are with our CGC ribbon, another wonderful accomplishment for this amazing girl!