Sunday, February 28, 2010

Canine Good Citizen... Almost

Well, we didn't quite pass our Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test yesterday, but we were so very close! In my mind, Darwin has already passed it. We will be retaking it on March 20th and will spend the time between now and then polishing the few things Darwin needs work on. His obediecne is flawless, which makes me feel good.

For those not familiar with it, the test consists of ten components. Dogs need to pass all 10 in order to get the CGC certification. They can miss one test and retake it an additional time the same day to see if they pass. Darwin, unfortunately missed two, so was not qualified for a retake. However, I understand exactly what we need to do to prepare for our next examination.

The tests, and how Darwin did with each...

The first three tests were grouped together and involved the same "stranger" in our exam.

Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger - The owner walks toward a "stranger" and asks the dog sit and stay and his/her left side. The owner then steps forward to shake hands with the stranger while the dog stays in place.

Darwin was perfect. He sat and stayed as required for the test. Pass.

Test 2: Sitting politely for petting - In the second portion of the exam, the "stranger" asks if he/she can pet the owner's dog, and the owner aquiesces. The "stranger" pets the dog. The dog is not allowed to show fear.

Darwin, who has been somewhat reluctant to greet people (we've been working really hard on this and he is becoming more comfortable with it) did just fine and went up to the "stranger" and allowed her to pet him. Pass.

Test 3: Appearance and grooming - The dog must allow a stranger to check his/her ears, paws, and run a brush down his/her back to simulate comfort with strangers such as the vet or groomer.

Darwin was not real excited to have the woman touch his paws (though he doesn't care if we do it at home - this is related to his mistrust of strangers that we are working on). He backed up when she tried to reach his paws, though was okay with the brush being run down his back. Fail.

Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead) - The dog needs to demonstrate that he/she will listen to the owner, walk on a loose leash, and respond to changes in direction.

Our test had us make a right turn, then a left turn, then a U-turn, then a stop, then continue walking until a second stop is made. Frisbees on the floor highlighted where we needed to perform each task. Darwin's heeling was flawless. I made him sit at all stops before continuing, which is not required, but something I've taught him to do for a good heel. Pass.

Test 5: Walking through a crowd - The dog is required to walk on a loose leash through a crowd of people and a few dogs. The dog can show interest in those around him/her, but cannot pull towards them, etc.

Our crowd consisted of Petsmart employees and fellow classmates who decided not to take the test (along with their dogs). I put Darwin in a heel and he pretty much ignored everyone around him as we made our way through the crowd. He was brilliant! Pass.

Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place - Dog must demonstrate the ability to sit and down on command. The owner may put the dog in either position in a Stay, walk away the indicated distance, then turn back around and release the dog from the stay upon arriving back at the dog.

Once again, Darwin's obedience was flawless. He performed this perfectly. A few of the other dogs taking the test were not so willing to down on the cold floor, which made me even prouder of my own dog. Pass.

Test 7: Coming when called - Dog is put in a Wait, owner walks the indicated distance, then calls the dog to come.

Darwin does this excellently. I make him "touch" my hand when he arrives, but his recall from a wait is always very enthusiastic. Pass.

Test 8: Reaction to another dog - Dog and owner heel to a specified location and stop. Dog is put in a sit-stay at the owner's side. At the same time, a stranger with a dog performs the mirror move, allowing both owners to get to a location where they can step forward, leaving their dogs in a stay, and shake hands. The owners then return their dog to a heel and walk past each other. The dog taking the test may not move forward of the owner towards the new dog, nor may he/she lag behind as the dog passes.

Darwin was perfect. I don't really need to say more. He was interested in the other dog, but listened to me and did not let his interest dominate. Pass.

Test 9: Reaction to distraction - Dog needs to be able to handle random and sudden distractions such as a book falling, a crutch being banged on the floor, etc. They can startle, but may not run away.

Darwin had a really difficult time with this. We were placed in the middle of the store, surrounded by the other dogs taking the test and their owners. Darwin was already a little uncomfortable with the chaos around him, and when the evaluator started shaking a poster next to his head, it was too much and he tried to run away. We will need to work on this in the next few weeks, making him comfortable when chaos is happening around him. Fail.

Test 10: Supervised separation - Dog is required to stay with a stranger on a 6 ft leash for three minutes while the owner is out of sight. They can show slight nervousness, but not overt anxiety or aggression, and may not whine or bark.

I left Darwin and came back three minutes later. The girl who had his leash said that he did really well, which I was glad of, as Darwin does not like being separated from me at all. Pass.

And that was the test. We missed two, so failed. But Darwin did so very well, and he has come a very long way with his training in just six weeks. Four more weeks emphasizing where we failed and we should nail this. With how perfect his obedience was yesterday, I am beginning to think maybe we should train for Rally at some point, as he seemed to enjoy it and did so very well. I'm proud of him, and while slightly disappointed we didn't pass our first time through the CGC, am confident that we will (and some of the other people taking the test with me confessed that in most classes, maybe one dog passed the first time, but most pass the second time). We were invited to join the Advanced class that will be in week 3 of 6 next weekend (and will be taking our CGC again with them in week 6). We will use this time to work on having people "groom" Darwin and getting him more comfortable in a chaotic situation.

Regardless, I have an amazing dog and am so very proud of him. We are really starting to gel as a team and I believe that we will accomplish great things together.

And, so I don't leave you with a huge hunk of text and no pictures, here are a few from yesterday.

Darwin was in an exhuberant mood yesterday, which was wonderful, particularly when we needed to go "show off" for a judge.

"Hi, Mom. I know you want a nice picture of me for graduation, but I'm not going to allow that. See, I stick my tongue out at you. Though at least the bandana is better than that stupid hat."

Here, we were attempting to get a class photo. Obviously, that wasn't working out too well.

"Mom, I'd look at you like you want me too, but someone is being rude and sniffing my butt without my permission!"

"Okay, he's leaving me alone now. See? I'm looking at the camera now. Though I'm still a little worried about a hit-and-run butt sniff from behind so I'm keeping my ears back."

**As you can see, Darwin was a bit stressed by having all these other dogs around him and owners rushing in and out, barking commands. This is what we need to work on getting him comfortable with.

But just so you don't think that was his only mode... Here's a picture from a minute later, when I went back up to him.

And, sadly, the best one of the bunch. My fellow test-takers were the little yorkie, the boxer, and the dachsund. The latter two passed.

"Mom, can I please come a little closer to you? These other dogs smell funny."

Tomorrow: Darwin in his graduation hat! (We got to take it home, so I made him pose for several pictures, but less you think it was all puppy torture and no fun, he got some frisbee time in between photos)...

-Mel, Corgi-keeper

Friday, February 26, 2010

Who watches the watchers?

Turns out the girl with the camera does!

This photo is of Darwin and his uncle Max in the rear of my vehicle, watching the world go by and ensuring that no one escapes without them seeing them. My in-laws were in town a couple of weekends ago, and I couldn't resist snapping this photo as we were on our way to a walk in a new place! Now, Max may look okay with having Darwin as a cargo compartment buddy in this photo, but while the car was in motion, the pointy-eared little devil thought it was fun to harass his poor uncle. After all, that amount of space is enough room for a corgi-sized lump to move around in, right?

Been a bit AWOL on the blog lately. This is mainly the fact that I haven't had time to take pictures of the star of the blog, but also that we have been training hard for our Canine Good Citizen test that happens tomorrow! Wish us luck!

-Mel, Corgi-keeper

Monday, February 8, 2010

Whereupon I kaput Darwin's brain...

Obedience class can be grueling. Likewise, Darwin spent most of Saturday afternoon following class out cold on the floor, and most of the day yesterday, like this:

"This is my couch."

And why was it so grueling, you ask?

Well, not only did Darwin have to stay as other dogs walked circles around him (with many other distractions going on in the meantime), but he had a frisbee thrown for him, went racing after it with all his characteristic enthusiasm, and had to "leave it!" before he reached the disc, come back to me, then wait until I released him to go get it. My husband proclaimed this 'bonafide puppy torture' when I told him about it upon arriving home. Truly it was, but Darwin did surprisingly well with it all.

I was actually very proud of him on Saturday. He is becoming more comfortable with crowds and random objects coming around corners. His stays were better than most of the other dogs in the class, and when it came our turn to wheel around the other dogs, he remained absolutely focused on me in a heel all the way to the end. Very proud of him.

He definitely earned a rest on Sunday and couch priveleges.

-Mel, Corgi-keeper

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Puzzling kibble

As promised, here is Darwin's new means of eating his evening batch of kibble. It took a few more days to post than I thought it would, as I have been extremely exhausted in the evenings as the result of skiing last Sunday for the first time in about 7-8 years and coming down with a cold that has slowly been eating my energy all week. But here they are!

I decided a few weeks ago that Darwin needed some more mind games in his daily routine, so I created this simple puzzle for him out of plastic, disposable tupperware-like containers. He loves it! And attempts to get the pieces apart in several different ways. Each night he gets better and better at this, so soon I will have to think of something entirely new to work his brain with.

Getting the lid off an down to the first layer with a handy nose-butt...

Sometimes throwing it works....

Dainty extraction of the final barrier layer....

Of course, he is not allowed to keep the containers after he is finished, as Mom really doesn't want to spend an exhorbitant amount at the vet's having them extract little pieces of potentially sharp plastic from his digestive tract, though Darwin expresses that he really would like to be given these containers on a more long-term basis...

-Mel, Corgi-keeper