Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chopper is a Good Citizen!

Chopper and I have been MIA for awhile over the last few weeks. First, Chopper's Grandpa was visiting from Pennsylvania so I took some much needed vacation time to hang out with my two favorite guys. I took them to the beach (they both love the beach) and took my dad fishing (Chopper stayed home for that one) and a host of other fun stuff.

We've also been practicing all of our skills from our Obedience 2 Class at the Zoom Room. Classes Four and Five were pretty much the same as the first three classes but all the dogs started to slowly improve. Chopper's main area of concern was the groom/vet check. We worked on it slowly with giving paw and leaving it at that. At the start of class Chopper was not so good with the down stay. He would stay while you walked away but as soon as I turned around he would come to me without being called. We practiced on our walk everyday and now he's an old pro.

Anyway last night was Class Six - the day the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test was being given. We had already signed up to take the class a second time as I didn't think six weeks was going to be enough time for the Chopper to be conditioned for all the distraction tasks and the body check. I actually forgot yesterday that we even had class until about an hour before (we made it in time). I was a little bummed on the way over because I thought everyone would pass except for Chopper even though I had already decided we would need extra time. But then I thought - let's see if he can do this - if not we'll try again.

I kept Chopper away from all the other dogs before we went in to prevent any pre-testing jitters and then we took a quick walk with Mumble and Carrie when they got there. Before we went in I turned to my dog and told him: "If I can pass the bar you can pass this test."

Well that seemed to the trick - that and the fact that all the other dogs seemed to be on their best behavior. The barking puppy didn't bark quite as much (and was as far away from us as possible) and all the other dogs were angels. Also the people who had moved around and clicked away for five weeks all stood quietly next to their dogs. The Zoom Room has never been so quiet before.

The test started with the examiner coming around and shaking hands and then coming around and petting. Chopper thought he had treats so tried to follow him when he left. We then did the body check. Chopper got his paws and teeth checked and acted like it was no big deal - that's when I first thought that maybe we had a shot at this.

Next it was time for the walking. Chopper is an excellent walker in real life (with the exception of garbage day) so this has been frustrating for me as he has not always been great at walking in a circle with the other dogs. So we did the parade once with the dogs on the outside and once on the inside - no problems (I was constantly telling Chopper to look forward and heel). Now I was thinking that we were going home with that certificate.

After that there were even more distractions but not quite like we had practiced (e.g., dropping a box, the tennis balls flying around, noisy toys) - no this time each dog took a turn walking down the middle of the room and the dog walking had to be good and the dogs waiting had to be good. I spent a lot of time talking to Chopper and telling him he was a good boy. When he seemed to be even just a slightly bit interested in turning around to see what was behind him I would tell him it was just Mumble and to look at me. Yes I lied to my dog but did I mention that there were NO TREATS allowed during the test. This dog will do anything for treats - if you don't have treats though you're on your own. So I would do it again.

Then it was time for the separation part of the test. Chopper knows the trainer so this has been going well - the first few weeks he was given treats but since then he's just been waiting nicely. (Some weeks he would pull when I first got back in the room to get to me with that big goofy grin on his face.) Chopper has improved a lot over the years in this skill in real-life situations. He will now go willingly with someone when being boarded and because we use the same groomer he goes with them as well (he doesn't like being groomed so there is some "screaming" that happens once in awhile in that situation). Even at the vet's office he will go with someone as soon as they take the leash.

So here are the ten tasks as listed by the AKC:
1) Accepting a friendly stranger
2) Sitting politely for petting
3) Appearance and Grooming
4) Out for a Walk
5) Walking Through a Crowd
6) Sit and Down on Command/Stay in Place
7) Coming When Called
8) Reaction to Another Dogs
9) Reaction to Distractions
10) Supervised Separation

And Mr. Chopper passed all of them!!! Five minutes after it was over he did bark at the dog who was there just to take the test and hadn't been in the class but we were off the clock and that's just Chopper.

So now we get to mail our form in and get an official Certificate!

Mumble and Chopper right after they passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test