Getting ready to take the exam

If you have done the basic training, you're already halfway to being ready for the Canine Good Citizen. The exercises you need to work on are those that add distractions. They are the following:

1 Accepting a friendly stranger 1 Sitting politely for petting 1 Appearance and grooming 1 Reaction to another dog 1 Reaction to distractions 1 Supervised separation

Because Buddy's ability to Sit-Stay is so critical to success on many of the tests, make sure that he has this exercise down pat.

Training for accepting a friendly stranger and sitting politely for petting

We suggest that you start by teaching your dog the Sit for Examination and build from there. You need a helper for these exercises.

If you have scored your dog for fight or flight (see Chapter 5), you remember that this score determines his response to the helper. For example, if the helper is a stranger and your dog is high in fight, he may show signs of pro-tectiveness. On the other hand, if he is low in fight and high in flight behaviors, Buddy may try to hide behind you or show signs of shyness when the helper approaches. Because the Sit for Examination is the cornerstone for all the distraction tests, you need to condition your dog to perform this exercise correctly before you continue.

With Buddy in Heel position, begin as you do for the Sit-Stay. Say and signal "Stay" and have your helper approach your dog from six feet at a 45-degree angle to your left. Have the helper approach in a friendly and nonthreatening manner, without hovering over the dog. Have the helper show your dog the palm of a hand and continue to walk by. If Buddy stays, praise and release. If your dog wants to get up, check straight up with your left hand with "Stay" and immediately try again.

Buddy's response determines how close the helper gets in the beginning. If he becomes apprehensive about the helper's approach and tries to move, we suggest that he or she walk past the dog at a distance of two feet without making eye contact or looking at the dog, which Buddy may perceive as threatening. As the dog gets used to that maneuver, have the helper offer a treat to the dog, placed on the open palm, as he or she walks by, still without making eye contact with the dog. It doesn't matter whether the dog takes the treat or not — it's the gesture that counts. When your dog accepts the helper walking past and offering a treat, stop for this session.

At your next session, have the helper first offer a treat and then pet the dog on the head, still without making eye contact, as he or she continues past the dog. Next, the helper can attempt to look at the dog as he or she touches the dog and goes past. For this particular test, the eye contact in connection with the examination is the hard part of the exercise, and it may require several sessions before the dog is steady.

The aim of this exercise is for the dog to allow the approach of a stranger who also then pets the dog. For the majority of dogs, this exercise isn't particularly difficult, but it does require a little practice.


Training for appearance and grooming

Appearance and grooming is a similar test that you can introduce as soon as your dog accepts petting by a stranger. Have your helper lightly comb or brush Buddy with you at his side or directly in front. The helper examines the ears and picks up each front foot. If your dog finds this difficult, have the helper give the dog a treat as he or she touches a foot. Condition the dog with praise and treats to accept having the feet handled.

The appearance and grooming test is one of the most frequently failed tests, and mainly because the dog won't permit the evaluator to handle his feet. If you make a point of handling your dog's feet when he is a puppy (and have your friends do it too), he won't be upset by this action as an adult.

Training for reaction to another dog

Your dog may stand or sit for this test. He is less likely, however, to try to initiate contact with the other dog from a Sit. Practice this exercise with someone else who also has a well-trained dog. With your dogs at Heel position, approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet and stop close enough to each other so you can just shake hands. As you stop, tell Buddy to "Sit" and "Stay."

Should he want to say hello to the other dog, reinforce the "Stay" command. Be sure you instruct your training partner not to let his or her dog come to say hello to Buddy.

Training for reaction to distractions

Take another look at the list of distractions in the section, "Reaction to distractions," earlier in this chapter. If you think that your dog may be unduly startled by any one of them, you need to practice and condition him to ignore that distraction.

Because your dog's Personality Profile (see Chapter 5) determines how he reacts to a particular distraction, expose him to different distractions to see how he deals with them. Some dogs take it all in stride and others require several exposures to become accustomed to the distraction. The best foundation is a solid Sit-Stay.

Training for supervised separation

Although this test doesn't directly deal with distractions, it does evaluate a dog's response to the unforeseen, and so resembles the other tests. It shows that the dog can be left with someone else, which demonstrates training and good manners. You hand your leash to an evaluator who watches your dog, and in some cases, other dogs may be in the vicinity that are also doing this test or just being walked. The dog shouldn't bark, whine, howl, or pace unnecessarily, or register anything other than mild agitation or nervousness.

You can leave your dog in either the Sit or the Down position; he doesn't need to hold that position until you return, only that he doesn't vocalize or pace unnecessarily. Still, by having Buddy focus on staying in place, you reduce the likelihood that he will bark or howl, or become overly agitated. You can develop this skill as a simple Down-Stay exercise, which is what we recommend.

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