Thursday, February 5, 2009

Headed for Citizenship

Marge's tongue looks abnormally large in this picture.

I have no doubt that I could accomplish *something* with Marge. Be it Rally or Agility, she may never be a star, but she is certainly more than capable of learning a lot, provided I take the time to teach it to her. She is quite smart, extremely food driven, and because of those two things seems to like to have something to do.

Something I am less sure about is the Canine Good Citizen, a test that we very well may be taking in the not-so-distant future to conclude the upcoming Beginner 2 session.

Not only does it look for obedience and knowledge of basic commands -- both of which Marge has -- it looks for a dog of sound, amiable (at worst, aloof) temperament. Marge is nowhere near amiable and not too close to aloofness either.

She is hyper aware when people approach her and doesn't usually react kindly. She'll break position, hackles go up, and she'll attempt to circle her way towards the person to get in a sniff. On occasion, she will growl.

That alone will cost us the test.

"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."

Most likely, FAIL. Depending on the person, she may be alright because the person would be ignoring her. But if I had to bet, she would most likely use that as an opportunity to break position and sniff a non-threatening person.

"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."

FAIL. She hates to be pet on top of her head and will definitely move away if a stranger's hand runs down her back.

"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."

100% FAIL. She would never allow a person to get that touchy-feely with her, especially when grabbing her feet.

"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..."

PASS. So long as the environment was a non-threatening one, like the training hall or in the park, Marge would most likely be fine with this portion of the test.

"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."

PASS. Again, so long as none of the people are threatening.

"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..."

PASS. Should be fine, provided Marge will actually down on whatever the surface is. Sometimes she won't do it if a treat isn't present.

"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."

100% PASS. She really has a good recall.

"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."

PASS. She might need some more practice on this one, but it's easy enough for me to do. Also, in a class-like environment (which I'm assuming the CGC is, with trainers and dogs and stuff all around), she usually does not bother all that much with 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."

Not 100% sure, but I'm going to say PASS. Jogger wont bother her, I've worked with the chair, and I doubt a cane/crutch would bother her either.

"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 may talk to the dog but should not engage in excessive talking, petting, or management attempts (e.g, "there, there, it's alright")."

PASS. She'd probably just stare off in my direction and wait for me to come back. If the evaluator tries to pet her, it might go down the crapper from there. But, overall, I'd say she'd be okay.

So, roughly, we're 70% of the way there.   Working on the whole stranger issue is so difficult when you actually need to provide the strangers.


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