Treat yourself to a well-trained dog!

Good Citizen? Yep… apparently so!

Yep you heard that right!  I know I mentioned it in July that Shayne was going for her CGC… well I was a bad dog-mom and missed the sign up date.  I had planned on waiting until the next test at that facility in October but an event I went to this weekend decided to bring in an evaluator.  I wasn’t sure how well she’d do because it was a HUGE event, lots of dogs, lots of people, lots of high-drive dogs (lure coursing was a big event there), and being in a totally new place.  It was $20 but all of that was being donated to the rescue so I figured worst-case scenario some greyhounds will be helped.

I have sat here and typed and deleted about a dozen starting lines to this paragraph and still cannot quite put into words what I want to say in the way I want to say it.  So just imagine some flowery and beautiful language that says: “I cannot believe we’ve finally gotten to this point.  I am so proud of her!”   I was quite literally fighting back tears as I tied on her CGC bandana and the evaluator snapped a picture to add to their CGC wall of success.  Like a beauty queen, I had imagined this day for so long but was never really sure we’d get there, so it was such an amazing feeling to finally achieve our goal.  Not just achieve our goal but get some really high praise from the evaluator (who really fell in love with Shayne).  I knew she was capable of doing all the behaviors but the variables of environment and evaluator made things a little more precarious–my main concern was with the supervised separation… we had practiced the dog greeting so many times that it was no longer concerning to me.

The testing was starting about 3 hrs after we arrived at the event and I figured that would give Shayne plenty of time to acclimate and burn off some excess energy before testing (and give me a chance to both work her really well but also get an idea for how she is doing).  I watched the dog before us go and the evaluator (who was a woman) was very natural when interacting with the dog and was very sweet natured which is the type of person Shayne is most friendly with–awesome!  The dog was a young Boston who did pretty well, but ultimately the evaluator didn’t pass the dog.  Initially this made me a little worried–she was very ‘by the book’ but I figured… “Oh well, I already paid… let’s just go for it.”  In the end, I was really glad that she earned her CGC not through a fluke or a bending of the rules.  I know that a strict evaluator deemed her skills appropriate to get the title and that our progress was totally validated (not that I needed it, but it’s nice nonetheless)!

We went through the entire test without so much as a hiccup.  The supervised separation had me worried for two reasons 1. the separation 2. someone else handling Shayne in an environment ripe with uneducated dog owners who let their dogs get all up in the business of other dogs left and right.  I told the evaluator to be “mindful” that Shayne likes her space and isn’t pleased when dogs invade that space–she said she had an Aussie and BC that had similar quirks.  I walked away and just hoped for the best.  When I came back, Shayne was just sitting there looking in my direction like a good girl and the evaluator was filling out our passing paperwork!  Then I had a moment of tears as Shayne came rushing back to me.  I was so proud of her… I was blown away how well she did and how far we’d come and how much of a life-changing dog she has been.

I got to thinking about where we started and I figured that I’d write a bit about each skill.

1. Accepting a friendly stranger

(before) Bark and back up as the stranger approaches if it is a woman (even with no interest in her).  If it is a man she would lunge, bark, back-up, lunge, bark, back-up etc.  If the woman continued to approach she’d try to spin out of her collar.  Honestly I wouldn’t let men approach so I’m not entirely sure what she would do…

(Now) Stranger approached, Shayne broke her sit to go sniff the woman while wagging her tail gently (a happy wag).  Once she had a quick sniff she returned to sitting.

2.  Sitting politely for petting (from stranger)

Before:  They couldn’t get close enough TO pet her.  If the person was a woman and ignored her for long enough, she would approach but not be pet.

Now:  She sat there and nuzzled closer to the stranger who was kneeling down in a very natural manner.  She stayed in her sit but was clearly enjoying the petting.

3.  Appearance and Grooming

Before:  Wouldn’t allow a stranger to get this close.  At the vets office she would tolerate this type of maneuvering because of learned helplessness… she would pretty much just be catatonic and let the vets do what they want.

Now: She accepted the brushing no problem, she wasn’t terribly happy about having her feet picked up (did a look away), did a quick lip lick after having her teeth looked at, and was fine with her ears being messed with.   No attempts to move away and the leash was loose enough she could have without a problem.

4. Out for a walk (loose leash walking)

Before: Shayne pulled like a tank.  She’d either be rushing ahead in crazy criss-crossing patterns or trying to twist out of her collar backwards.

Now: It wasn’t her best focused heel but she walked on a nice loose leash around the ‘course’ with only a moment of concentrated sniffing (it was a tree that had probably been peed on a lot!).

5. Walking through a crowd

Before: Shayne would be pulling to avoid people in the crowd–to the left, to the right, just away from the people.  Sometimes she’d get very clingy to me but not reliably.

Now: Shayne walked up the crowded walkway and back.  She passed people, dogs, kids, adults, men, women, even a golf cart that was right next to her.

6. Sit and down on command and stay in place

Before: She didn’t have a sit or a down when I adopted her … and she never stayed in place for long LOL!  But she had a sit and a down quite quickly

Now:  This was obviously no problem.  She can sit and down-stay like a champ.

7. Coming when called

Before:  She didn’t have much of a recall… but at the same time she wouldn’t venture far from me in general (I was safe, the rest of the world was not).

Now: not a problem at all… I handed the leash to the evaluator and walked to the other side of the ‘ring’ and that was enough to have her pulling on the leash to get to me LOL!

8.  Reaction to another dog

Before:  She was very interested in other dogs and wanted to see them but at the same time was fearful and would react to them getting close.  She would pull to see the other dog then change her mind.

Now:  She walked passed the dog like he wasn’t there (a big sweet Bernese Mountain Dog). and was such a good girl!

9. Reaction to distraction

Before: Holy Cow… I dropped a spoon and she’d go running and hiding.  I’d move funny and she’d dodge out of the way.  Open and umbrella and she’d leave the room …

Now: Ignored the clanging of metal bowls and checked out each bowl that was dropped (making sure there was no food left behind LOL!)

10. Supervised Separation

Before: Initially she couldn’t care less about me…but she quickly became rather attached to me and is quite a velcro dog.

Now:  Today was probably the best I’d seen (maybe she really just doesn’t believe that I’d leave her anywhere).  She walked with the evaluator to the table and just sat there staring in my direction … no whining, panting, or panicking…  just waiting.

 

Even in writing this, I had a few very teary moments where I had to stop writing to take a minute and reflect.  Just thinking of how far we’ve come and what we’ve overcome makes this CGC so special.  I’m watching Shayne sleep wearing her CGC bandana and I’m just so thankful this little dog came into my life.  I’m so proud of her and just amazed at what she’s been able to overcome.

24 Comments
  1. I know this is so much more than just the CGC. It’s an affirmation of all the hard work the two of you have done and how much of a team you have become. Congratulations, Tena and Shayne.

    • Exactly kim… It really is more than just a CGC… Without the bond that we have and the trust that we have, all the obedience training in the world wouldn’t have made her be as successful as she was yesterday.

  2. Well, I don’t mind admitting that I blinked back a tear or two in the reading of this. I know how proud I was of Tucker and Phoebe when they got their CGCs, and how proud I was of Tuck when he passed his TDI – and neither of them had even close to as much to overcome as Shayne did. As Kim said – it’s more than just a piece of paper, a bandana, and a picture on the wall … it’s tangible proof of everything you’ve been through together, how hard you’ve worked, and the bond you share. The most beautiful part of this, for me, is that Shayne would certainly not be the dog she is today without you, but you most likely would not be the trainer you are today without the challenges of working with her and helping her to feel safe and confident in a world which once inspired such fear.

    Congratulations to both of you!

    • I would absolutely NOT be the trainer I am today with out her. Before I got her I was a trick trainer… did some obedience… did some tricks with a clicker… had done very basic behavior modification stuff but wasn’t really invested in the science behind clicker training or the science of behavior. She changed all that drastically. I think one of the reasons I’m so proud is that her rehabilitation didn’t involve pain, fear, or intimidation something that is frequently suggested for some of her issues.

      Thank you for the kind words and the tear 🙂

  3. Big congratulations. You guys have worked so hard together!

    When I did CGN with Cohen the evaluator was irritatingly lax. I mean, Cohen would have passed regardless (har har har) but the whole process definitely didn’t impress me. I’m glad to see that some evaluators are fair but rigid. It makes that title all the more valuable. Congrats again!

    • Thanks for the congrats!

      Exactly my thoughts… part of me wanted to just pass and watching the dog in front of me fail was a bit concerning (since one of the things he failed on was the supervised separation which I knew would be Shayne’s weakness)…but at the same time I wanted her CGC to be well earned not just given to her. I wanted a fair evaluation. I am not so much a stickler that some small situational bending the rules bother me. When Rio was testing for his CGC he had done FLAWLESSLY on everything up until the supervised separation. For 2 of the three minutes he was okay a few little whimpers but was okay… then another dog in the room barked and he barked off and on for the last minute. Should he have passed… technically probably not… but given he did beautifully on everything else and that he was fine until another dog barked, they gave it to him. If the other dog hadn’t barked he probably never would have… so they let it go… do i think he earned the CGC, yeah but were rules bent given the situation, yeah.

  4. That is so awesome! It sounds like a particularly challenging test, but it sounds like she did a great job on every section. Congratulations!

    • Thank you! She really did super well on everything considering the outdoor venue with lots of dogs, lots of people, lots of dogs barking etc. I was very proud!

      It is definitely challenging for dogs who have some challenges. The obedience stuff is easy to work on but the fear/reactivity things are what make it a difficult test, that’s for sure!

  5. I know how you feel. Both of my dogs have quite a few hurdles to overcome still before we can even attempt an CGC, if ever pass it. I can only imagine the emotions behind it for you. C/T for all the work you’ve done!

    • If you haven’t heard about it yest, APDT is offering a new CGC-esque titling program that is more about the handler/dog relationship. It’s something I want to pursue with both dogs at some point. Dogs can earn their BA, their MA, and a PhD–hehe! Some of the things that cause dogs problem on the CGC are not part of this test… dogs do not have to be pet by a stranger (for the BA), there isn’t the grooming/appearance section…. etc. Maybe i’ll write about it since it is a great option for dogs who have specific concerns that make the CGC more difficult.

  6. I was so happy I could be there to witness the big hoorah! Shayne did awesome with the separation. I think ‘I’ was holding back tears when you were putting the bandanna on. Both you and Shayne are sooo lucky to have each other.

    • I was trying to see you through the windows of the car to see what your body language was saying about how Shayne was handling it (she was behind the shrubs so i coudln’t see her). I’m glad you were there to support! It’s great to share the excitement with people who understand jsut how exciting it is!

  7. Wow – that is such awesome news. Love how you wrote all the before and after scenarios out in your post – she’s come so far!! Congrats!!

    • Thank you!!! I figured it would be nice to see what we started with and where we ended. In terms of the obedience she could have passed the loose leash walk and the sit, down, stay, come within 6 months of getting her… it was all the other things that took a while LOL!

  8. WOW! I am sooo proud of you two! I agree with Donna, before and after was a treat to read. I think you made my day. 🙂

    Congratualtions!

    ~B~

    • Thank you! I’m glad you liked the before and after… i wasn’t really sure how to make the post interesting but it really is amazing to see the difference in the dog I started with to the dog I have now. It’s quite nice to put all of our work in perspective… sometimes when she has a moment that isn’t typical (maybe the now rare reaction or the very rare concern about a person it’s good to remember that her worst day today would be FAR better than the best day that she started with (if that makes sense)

  9. I know exactly how you feel. That affirmation and proof of all the hard work you’ve done. Sure, they’re just letters. But for dogs like Shayne, it’s much more than that. The patience you’ve had and the time you’ve spent working towards that goal was immense. The CGC isn’t a walk in the park for all dogs. You have so much to be proud of. Both Shayne AND you earned those letters.

    • Honestly… i think working with you and Risa so much made a HUGE difference in her doggie skills… we practiced the greeting another dog SO many times that it’s become more of an obedience skill that she has generalized to other dogs LOL! So thanks for helping us along the way! Those letters represent something I’m so very proud of.. and that’s a transformation of a dog using love support and lots of science LOL!

  10. Coingrats! I’m so happy for you too, what a wonderful job you’ve done with her!!

  11. Congratulations!!! It must feel so great to see all your hard work paying off. I hope Shayne got an extra special treat!

    • Shayne got chicken nuggets from mcdonalds on the way home! LOL! For a raw-feeder, I’m pretty laid back with what I let my dogs eat LOL!! thank you! it’s great to see her recognized for the awesome dog she is!

  12. Congrats to you and Shayne. I’m hoping to take the test with Das next month.

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