Countdown to CGN testing August 9, 2014

So at nosework they have offered the chance to take the Canadian Good Neighbour test in August. I’m always looking for things to do with Ranger and figured it would give us something to work on at home in the obedience category (as opposed to nose work and agility training). Ranger’s day-to-day manners are passable and people comment on how ‘well trained’ he is, but looking through the list of requirements I know we have a lot of fine tuning to do. We have almost two months before the testing so hopefully we can get it worked out. The full test can be seen HERE

Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger

1.As the evaluator approaches, the handler may tell the dog to sit and quietly reassure the dog.
2. The handler may not hold the collar tightly or in any other way restrain the dog.
3. While it is not necessary for the dog to be sitting, it is important that the dog does not break position, move toward or interfere with the evaluator.

This I think we can do. He tends to want to move toward people to greet them, but if he’s put in a sit-stay he will hold the position. Not saying he won’t lean toward them, but we’ve had enough experience in classes and such that he’s used to people coming up to us…as long as they aren’t holding a treat bag. Will need to brush up on holding his sit when people are close enough.

Test 2: Politely accepts petting

1. The dog is to be sitting beside the handler (either left or right side is acceptable).
2. The handler may talk to his/her dog throughout the exercise.
3. The dog does not have to maintain the sitting position but must remain in place.
4. If the handler commands the dog to sit and the dog does not respond, the handler may lightly touch the dog on the hindquarters but may not physically force the dog into a sitting position.
5. The handler may not physically restrain the dog either by use of the collar or any other method.

We’ve been working on this a lot now that the summer is here and neighbourhood children want nothing more than to “pet the doggy”. Luckily, most listen that they need to wait until he’s sitting down before coming up to him and he’s been generally good about holding his position as long as they don’t dither too much. Will need to work on this more with a completely loose leash (and some willing volunteers).

Test 3: Appearance and grooming

1. The handler will provide the evaluator with the grooming tool before the test begins.
2. The dog is not required to maintain a sitting position.
3. The handler may encourage the dog during the test.
4. The handler may use light collar pressure in positioning the dog, but no physical restraint.

I’m not too worried about this part. Ranger likes being groomed and I (and others can handle his feet, tail, mouth, and ears without issue. I could see him moving his head a bit for the teeth check, but otherwise no issues here.

Test 4: Out for a walk 

1. The dog may be on either side of the handler.
2. The handler may speak quietly to the dog throughout the test.
3. The dog is required to walk near the handler without pulling or straining.
4. The leash should be loose in order to demonstrate that the dog is under control and is not being steered by the handler.
5. The handler and dog are required to walk a straight line, make at least one right and one left turn as well as a 180-
degree turn.
6. The dog is not required to sit when the handler stops walking.

Ok…so now it gets a little trickier. Ranger is pretty good about walking, but I mainly use his Easy Walk to prevent pulling. In his collar he wants to walk up ahead of me using with slack. Speaking of slack, I’ve been slacking on his LLW skills with a heel. This will need work and tonnes of reward until we get it down.

Test 5: Walking through a crowd

1. The dog may be on either side of the handler.
2. The handler may speak quietly to the dog throughout the test.
3. The dog is required to walk near the handler without pulling or straining.
4. The leash should be loose in order to demonstrate that the dog is under control and is not being steered by the handler.
5. The handler and dog are required to walk a straight line, make at least one right and one left turn as well as a 180-degree turn.
6. The dog is not required to sit when the handler stops walking.

So this is my second most worrisome part of the testing. Walking in heel on a loose leash. With BIG distractions. And no treats allowed in the testing. If we went in to do this today I think he’d spend his time bouncing from slightly ahead to slightly back depending on whether I’ve just talked to him or we’re coming to a new person. I am going to be working hard on this one and we might spend some time in downtown Halifax to work on people distractions.

Test 6: Sit/down on command and stay in place

1. The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and may you more than one command to sit and down the dog.
2.  The handler may gently touch the dog in an effort to assist the dog in assuming either the sit or down position.
3. The handler may not physically place or force the dog into position. The handler may repeat a command and use signals and gestures to assist the dog as well as a light touch.
4. Once prone the dog must stay in place.
5. Once the dog is in either a sit or down position, the handler is to command it to stay, then walk away from the dog to the end of the long line.
6. Once reaching the end of the long line, the handler will turn to face the dog and without pausing return to the dog.
7. The handler is not required to walk behind the dog in returning to heel position.
8. The handler is not required to walk behind the dog in returning to heel position.

This one we have no problem; we actually do a lot of this in our training at home and while waiting for classes to start.

Test 7: Come when called (long line)

1. The dog may change position, but must remain in place when waiting for the command to come.
2. When called, the dog must come at a reasonable speed without stopping to sniff or wandering off.
3. The dog may drop its head to sniff, but must continue towards the handler.
4. The dog must come close enough for the handler to touch it but is not required to sit.
5. The dog must come close enough for the handler to touch it but is not required to sit.

This is done at a distance of 8-10 feet. My only concern is him not being able to stop haha.

Test 8: Praise/Interaction

1. The handler may use any combination of verbal praise, and playful postures, gestures or actions to engage the dog in play or in the performance of tricks.
2. When calming the dog, the handler’s voice may be firm but must not be loud or angry.
3. The handler may use more than one command to calm the dog but the dog must display an attitude of controlled behaviour following calming efforts on the part of the handler.

Rile him up and settle him down. This we can do. They say you can play, ask them for fun tricks, etc. and then you need to return to a calmer state. I figure a few spins, a back up, a couple bows is enough to get him barking and excited before a settle command. This will either be our best part of the test, or a disaster. We’ve already been practicing settle in different places so should be good.

Test 9: Reaction to passing dog

1. The handler should command the dog to hell before beginning to walk toward the other handler and dog.
2. Upon reaching the other team, the handler should command the dog to sit, thereafter greeting the other handler and chatting briefly.
3. The dog may not be restrained.
4. The dog may show mild interest in the other handler and dog but may not move toward the other dog, or exhibit shy or aggressive behaviour.
5. The handler may use additional commands to ensure a response from the dog but may not jerk or grab it.

Soooooo, yeah. This is what we need to work on so I need to enlist people with dogs to help me out. He’s not aggressive in the slightest, but is definitely going to want to say hello to the other dog and possibly the person. It would be better if I could put him in a settle (since laying down provides less options for leaning) but we’ll be working on this often in the coming two months.

Test 10: Reaction to distractions

1. The handler may command the dog to walk at heel while the individuals walk by.
2. The handler may speak encouragingly to the dog, but may not steer the dog with the leash nor attempt to restrain the dog.
3. The dog may startle but should recover quickly.
4. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity.
5.  The dog may bark once or twice.

Ladders, strollers, canes/crutches, and bears oh my! This shouldn’t be a problem for us as Ranger is pretty level about most things and has experience with people on crutches (me) and baby strollers (definitely not mine). Once again the only issue would be LLW.

Test 11: Supervised isolation

1. The dog does not have to maintain position or place with the assistant evaluator.
2.  The dog may not show signs of excessive stress.
3. Mild stress or nervousness is acceptable behaviour.

3 minutes with me in a different room leaving him with a stranger (or hopefully someone he’s met before). I am going to practice this a few times at home and in different areas, but I don’t think it should be a problem. Haven’t decided if putting him in a down would be better or if he would do better unstructured.

Test 12: Walking through a door/gate

1. The handler may talk quietly to the dog as they approach the opening.
2. If walking through the opening simultaneously, the dog should maintain a loose leash throughout and should not lunge forward in an attempt to pass through ahead of the handler.
3. In the event the opening is too small, the handler may quietly command the dog to wait (or sit and wait) while the handler goes through.

We’ll brush up on this, but Ranger is pretty good about not being pushy (we do this with the doors at home all the time). Once again, the LLW part is what we need to work on.

dog running to camera

practicing recall

In all, I think this is something that we should be able to manage so long as I take the time to practice. We might run into some hiccups along the way, but two months is a lot of time to work on 12 specific criteria (even if some of them are difficult for him). We’ve been invited to hop onto the last fifteen minutes of the obedience class directly before nose work so that will help with the people/dog portions that are more worrisome.

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Agility #1 – Here we go again

Tonight was class one of our next session. It’s hard to believe another set is over, but I always take the time to read the first entry from the previous to remind myself of how far we’ve come.

Tonight after warm up we started with a three jump pin wheel first with dog on right (DOR) and then immediately with dog on left (DOL). Ranger still works better DOL, but he is becoming stronger on his (and my) weak side. We added another jump and a tire to the end and Ranger followed my lead. We worked on a couple different lines (one with a tunnel) and another of chute-jump-tunnel. No one needed to hold the chute, and I welcomed the added time it takes him to worm his way out. I need to work on delivering his cues earlier as the little dogs’ strides give them more time to gather themselves.

Our shining moment in the class was the 6-pole weave which is still set up with the gates. Not only did he enter relaxed in DOR and DOL, but he didn’t try to jump over them to escape and he watched where he was going each time. Granted he’s not moving faster than a walk, but Less Haste; More Speed is going to be our mantra.

The work on the teeter was probably our best yet too. He did need to be reminded that he couldn’t approach on his hind legs pressing against the collar, but when he did hit the teeter and it started to move Ranger showed the first glimpse of self preservation ever in agility class and stopped to balance himself for its descent.

Had some issues with him geeking out about halfway through class (bouncing, fake spooking, and acting spazzy) which makes me wonder if the higher level of brain work at scent class the night before is frying him. When classes were a day apart he seemed better (although last week he got spazzy and had the day in between…but the scent work class was harder than normal. Will have to see how he handles them so close, and hope he can handle it.

Tomorrow is the first trial of the season and I’ll be heading over to help out and hopefully learn a bit about it all.

Nosework #6 – Thinking outside the box

This was the final night of our first set of sessions. Ranger and I were running late so were only able to pop out for a quick pee before going in and getting ready.

There were only 4 of us there for class tonight so we got in a few searches. Ranger’s first search they used the little holed lid to see how he was doing. He had a little trouble finding it at first, but he circled back and (through I believe the process of elimination) realized which box it was. Did a couple searches mixing them up between on chairs and on the ground which he had no issues with.

His biggest test though was a search with the scent located in a book bag on the ground. The search space had boxes, cones, two bags, a tin, and a couple chairs with items on them. Ranger searched everything and couldn’t find it on the first full spin around; although he definitely was moving in a direction around the bag. He kept checking the boxes surrounded the bag, and I led him away for a couple seconds to let them flip it open a bit and he came back in to find it quite quickly.

You could almost see the light bulb go off in his head as he realized that the scent doesn’t necessarily need to be in a box. That he must check everything in the area to find it.

Note: This class I gave him a drink about halfway through and he downed quite a lot. It goes to show that scent work is a workout for him and I must start offering water after every set of searches.

Also, one of the instructors has offered for us to turn up to class early and work in the obedience class for the last fifteen to start giving him practice for his Canine Good Citizenship test the beginning of August. They’ve also mentioned setting up a search weekend for tracking which I think we’ll attend. Heck, if for nothing else we’ll get to see some good dogs working trails.

Agility #8

Last night’s agility was probably his worst, but also our best if that’s possible. When we were warming up he was bouncy and distracted trying to zoom off on the end of his leash a few times before settling in. We started with them going over a cavaletti set which Ranger took in bounding leaps (instead of trotting over nicely) and when we moved to the weaves he had literally no idea what was being asked (handlers walking on one side while the instructor loosely held the lead and just prevented them from making mistakes. He didn’t get it at all.

Then they put up the gates to have the dogs go through on their own and we took it very slowly with me on one side to guide him and the instructor on the other. The other dogs got it pretty quick and even did a little flying changes to add speed, but we worked on walking through v.e.r.y slowly and not trying to catapult over them (which he did once jumping the WHOLE setup from right to left. We did end on an easy slow walk through with him going where he was supposed to. Not sure if that’s the right setup for him to learn weaves so I might look at teaching him a different way.

Next we did the A-frame with click on contact and feed in box at bottom. The dogs are supposed to be free a few strides beforehand, but that involved Ranger pretty much soaring over the top, missing the contact entirely and landing in the box. We managed a good turn by gently holding him until his feet were on the bottom of the frame and then letting go while calmly walking it.

We then built up to a jump – spread – jump – tire – tunnel. The jumps were high enough that he couldn’t just blast through the whole thing and he’d have to use his brain. He tried once and didn’t shorten his stride enough for the spread and ducked out; before doing a little zoom followed by a fake spook at equipment followed by sniffing some grass and then spooking again. It reminded me of the horses when we’d train and they’d get frustrated at not being able to figure out what they needed to do.

When I tried to put him back into place he didn’t want to sit and gummed my hands so I asked for a sit, treated, and took a minute to pat him. When he was settled we worked through the sequence very slowly and he got it! He even ran ahead of me to dive into the tunnel!

Final exercise was the dog walk with one of the instructors at the bottom with target and treats. I feel like I need to buy her a bottle of wine because watching Ranger gallop up and over to slide down the end into a stop must be pretty intimidating (the look on her face was one of apprehension lol). Most of the dogs were freely started a few strides away, but Ranger was walked to the bottom and held until there was no pressure from him on the collar and then calmly released…this slowed him down so he was only twice as fast as every other dog, and to give him credit he stopped at the bottom each time.

After class I asked for some exercises we could do at home to work on “Ranger being, well, Ranger”. This week we’re working on a jump with his food bowl on the other side. When he looks forward he is to be released from him wait. As this gets better I’m to start being in different positions (farther away/in front/in back/etc) as he tends to not look where he’s going and give the jr instructor a heart attack.

Nosework #5

Didn’t get a lot of practice in between classes as the BF’s dad is here from Holland and I’ve been super busy with the little foster Chico. We did get a couple rounds in at home over the weekend and I headed off to class yesterday with the thought that we wouldn’t get much out of class.

I was wrong lol.

Ranger did fantastic. Our first turn we put food in the box with the wintergreen and he zoomed in and found it almost immediately. Our subsequent turns involved me providing the reward in the box after he picked the right one. There was no box smashing, no frustration, no foolishness. He went out each time with gusto and searched with a good alert at the end.

Our second to last round involved the scent in a box on one of three chairs (there were boxes on the ground and on the other chairs). He found the scent area, but couldn’t figure out it was on the chair so I guided him over to one of the non-scent chair boxes and asked him to check it. Once he realized they were on chairs too he went back and alerted on the correct one.

Last round was a quick one with it back on the floor boxes and he went right in 🙂 So super proud of my boy!

We’ve signed up for the CGN test on August 9th. He shouldn’t have a problem with most things and we’re getting a list of the requirements this week to start working on. We were actually early for class (there is a rally/obedience class put on before us at the same place) and they invited us in to do the long down practice with them. Ranger did a great 30 second down with me beside him, and a fantastic 2 minute down with me standing in front at the end of the lead with the trainer walking around all the dogs.

Agility #7

Ranger had a great lesson at agility.

We did some tire-sharp turn tunnel – straight jump; jump-tunnel-pinwheel (three jumps at west/north/east) and Aframe-jump. (building up to the full sequences). Ranger paid more attention to where he went (as opposed to looking at my hands) and did really well on the weird angle from one of the jumps to the tunnel. He’s still a great deal faster than me, but he actually collected back onto the correct side after the tunnel to move forward to the jump with me  Super proud mum.

The schnauzer was there today and he still has it in for Ranger. He didn’t bolt over to us at all, but I kept Ranger farther away from him and at one point in a settle on one side of a tunnel so he couldn’t see him at all.

We also had them walked through the weave poles today (prior to this all we’d done was have them walk through a very open set of six). It was way over Ranger’s head and he wasn’t sure at all what we were after, but he went through them and was happy on the other side. I’ve always felt that the weaves will be tricky for him (since he seems to be two dogs – a front half and a back half) but I’ll just keep working on his leg awareness stuff at home and hope it comes together.

Also let my instructor know that I would like to volunteer for their trials for whatever they need. Said they’re always looking for people and it would be good for me too.