Dos and Donts of Taking the Test

The following few hints can help you prepare for and participate in the Canine Good Citizen test.

Your attitude and state of mind are the most important influence on the test's outcome. If you're excessively nervous, your dog will become nervous, too. Handlers under stress sometimes behave in ways they would never dream of doing any other time. If you do act differently, your dog will notice and be confused to the point where she might fail. Maintain a positive outlook and rely on your training.

1 Practice the entire test with a helper and friends before you actually enter a test. Doing so is more for your benefit than Buddy's. As you become familiar with the test, you'll lose some of your nervousness. It also can identify Buddy's weak areas and give you additional time to work on them.

i Give your dog a bath and thoroughly groom him before the test.

1 Use the correct equipment for the test — a well-fitting buckle or slip collar of leather, fabric, or chain, and a leather or fabric leash (see Chapter 6 for more on leashes).

1 Exercise Buddy before you take the test. If your dog eliminates at any time during testing, he fails.

1 Warm up your dog before taking the test so that both of you are as relaxed as possible under the circumstances.

1 Use a second command for any exercise, if necessary.

1 Talk to your dog during an exercise to keep attention on you, if necessary.

1 Ask the evaluator for an explanation if you don't understand a procedure or an instruction.

1 Maintain a loose leash throughout the entire test, even between exercises, to the extent possible. Although an occasional tightening of the leash generally isn't considered a failure, it does become a judgment call for the evaluator in assessing your control over your dog. Don't put yourself or the evaluator in that position.

1 Understand that your attitude and state of mind are the most important influences on the test's outcome. If you're excessively nervous, your dog will become nervous, too. Maintain a positive outlook and rely on your training.

1 Conduct yourself in a sportsmanlike manner at all times.

1 Keep in mind the purpose of the Canine Good Citizen and become an ambassador of goodwill and good manners for all dogs.

Of course, if you take the time to participate in the Canine Good Citizen test, you obviously want Buddy to pass. Even if he doesn't, you can still feel good about yourself and Buddy. You're making an effort to train your dog to be a model member of the community. In that small way, you're doing a service to all dogs and their owners.

1 Lose your temper or attitude if your dog fails an exercise. If you berate your dog, you sour him on the entire experience. You may feel a certain amount of disappointment and frustration, but you need to control those feelings. The more you work with your dog, the more attuned he is to your feelings. He'll associate them with the circumstances and not the failure of an exercise.

1 Change your attitude toward your dog after he has failed an exercise. Your remedy isn't to make the dog feel anxious, but to review your training, work on the difficult exercise, and try again. If you undermine your dog's confidence, training will take longer and become a less rewarding experience than if you realize that your job is to support and encourage your dog at every step of the way.

Dog Potty Training

Dog Potty Training

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