I’ve been keeping this a secret until the Big Day, but it has finally arrived! Ranger went to his first day of CGC preparation class! Here’s the big goober with some of his new friends:
I’m very proud to announce that we have almost met the goal we set on January 13th. By our deadline, he was able to sit for petting (in a park, surrounded by children!), accept handling, walk on a loose leash, walk through a crowd, sit, down, and stay on command, come when called, and react well to a distraction. We did not test supervised separation, but he is a very easygoing dog so it is not a worry of mine. Ranger passed the Basic Obedience test to join the CGC class with flying colors!
However, we still did not have anyone to actually test Ranger for the CGC. Plus, he had one bugaboo left – dogs, dogs, dogs. Ranger is very friendly and plays well with other dogs, but he goes bonkers when she sees another dog up close when he is on leash. And big, goofy barks and rude play-lunges look scary coming from an 85 pound dog. And reaction to another dog is on the CGC test. Oops.
I knew this was an issue way back when we first started blogging (see #5), but since the Eternal Winter of Snow and Frozen Everything was not letting up, I did not have a good way to work on dog-dog interactions. Most people don’t take their dogs to the park in 20 degree weather. So I decided that to really work toward our goal, the best thing would be to put Ranger in a group class indoors where we can train in a cozy and accepting environment, and then test for our CGC title as a bonus! So here we are – in class at the Wichita Dog Training Club.
We started out a little dicey. Ranger did not have a lot of distance to work with due to the setting, so instead of just walking away to where he was calm, we had to do a lot of very fast click-and-treat action to refocus and settle him. But it worked! In the 15 minutes before class, I did a quick counterconditioning and attention protocol – rewarding Ranger for looking at other dogs, rewarding him when other dogs moved or made noise, and rewarding him for looking at me – and we were able to tame his excitement and channel it into very focused behavior and calm reactions to the other dogs.
In fact, I was a little shocked at how nicely Ranger performed once he was completely zoned in on me. I think the motivation of his favorite treats (the doggy sausage) plus the excitement of the situation worked together and instead of his behaviors falling apart, he was offering me super-charged, fast, brilliant sits and downs, and a lovely happy bouncy attentive heel. He did have to keep working the entire time to keep from getting barky from frustration, but we did a few jazz and settle exercises and I think that as the classes continue, he will learn to calm in the new setting.
I’m very excited about Ranger’s class, AND the 70 degree weather we have to look forward to next week. Hope we can make it out in public a few more times and keep working on his polite behavior around people and around other dogs!