Saturday, October 10, 2009

Apollo and Ares Graduated!

So my boys finally graduated from the entire training program last night, completing the Advanced Education Class. The next step for them would be to take a CGC (Canine Good Citizen) Test and become certified by the AKC (American Kennel Club.)

Both Apollo and Ares are pretty close to being ready to take this exam; they each just have one major thing to work on before attempting the test… supervised separation. This means that they need to be able to stay with a stranger with both Jimmy and I out of sight and essentially be cool. During this supervised separation they are not allowed to bark, whine, howl, pant excessively, strain their leash, lung, or pace. Needless to say, both dogs have some separation anxiety issues, especially Apollo! So once we can get their out-of-sight stays (a stay command in a different room from you where they cannot see you) longer in duration, they should both be ready to go.

The CGC Test itself is pretty comprehensive! Dogs must achieve a 100% on the exam to pass it and become certified. There are 10 parts to the exam.
  1. Accepting a friendly stranger – The dog must not bark, growl, show any signs of aggression, jump, lung, be out of control in any way, and must not break their sit.
  2. Sitting politely for petting – Again, the dog must not bark, growl, show any signs of aggression, jump, lung, be out of control in any way, and must not break their sit. The must also not hide behind their owner or fight with the leash to avoid petting.
  3. Appearance and Grooming – They must be clean and allow the tester to examine their front feet and ears, and brush them. The dog must not be overly excited, struggle to avoid the brush, pull feet away, chew on hands or brush, or show any signs of resentment, aggression, or shyness.
  4. Out for a walk (Heel) – The dog must be able to walk with attention paid to their owner, making left, right and u-turns without pulling on the leash. The dog must not sniff the floor excessively or require harsh leash corrections.
  5. Walking through a crowd – The dog must not pull on the leash, lung, jump, hide behind owner, bark, growl, require harsh leash corrections, or show any signs of shyness or aggression.
  6. Sit and Down on Command / Stay in Place – The dog must sit, lie down, and stay on command. They must not get up, change positions, go to owner or move excessively.
  7. Coming when called – Dog must come on command.
  8. Reaction to another dog – The dog must not attempt to go to the “distraction dog,” jump on the “distraction dog,” or cross over owner to get to “distraction dog.” The dog must sit calmly by owner’s side without breaking sit, barking, growling, being inattentive, require harsh leash corrections, or show signs of shyness or aggression.
  9. Reaction to distractions – The dog should not attempt to run, bark more than once, lung, growl, attempt to attack distraction, or not respond to owner’s directions.
  10. Supervised Seperation – The dog must not bark, whine, howl, pant excessively, strain leash to get away, lung, jump, or pace.

If at any time the dog urinates or defecates during the test, they automatically fail the test. The dog may miss only one item and may try it over once at the end of the test to try to get it right once more. They must score 100% to pass! It's the last item, number 10, that we're still working with Apollo and Ares on. They just get so upset when we leave them!

So what are the benefits to CGC Certification? Some animal control agencies use the CGC test as guidelines when dealing with dog problems. Medical facilities may use the certification as a screening tool for therapy dogs. Many property managers consider it when making housing rules regarding pets, and some 4-H groups use it as a dog training program for children. Any dog who passes the test earns a certificate and tag from the AKC, while proudly adding the title ‘CGC’ after their name.

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