The date is set.
Honey will be evaluated as a Canine Good Citizen on Sunday, October 21. To pass, we must accomplish the ten CGC test items.
Most mornings we take advantage of nearby high-distraction locales (the elementary school, coffee shop, park) to practice loose leash walking, stay, and calm behavior around strangers and their dogs.
Honey is a superstar.
Hope for the Best
Upon hearing the cue “by me,” she matches her pace to mine and walks calmly by my side. When I say “with me,” she sits quietly as people walk by with their dogs. And a quiet “leave it” will convince her to pass a squirrel, cat, or chicken bone on the street.
Of course, I have a treat bag full of hot dogs and liverwurst which serve as her reward for such good behavior.
Here’s the thing: you’re not allowed to use treats in the Canine Good Citizen test.
So over the next two weeks, Honey and I will be testing our relationship. She’ll have to decide if I’m engaging enough to follow even when I don’t smell like processed meat products. And I’ll have to trust that she’ll stay by my side without
bribes rewards for positive reinforcement.
Expect the Worst
According to the American Kennel Club, who sponsors the Canine Good Citizen Program, the worst that could happen is behavior that causes an immediate dismissal: “Any dog that growls, snaps, bites, attacks, or attempts to attack a person or another dog is not a good citizen and must be dismissed from the test.”
That’s not going to happen.
Honey acting aggressively? Wait until I stop laughing…
Ok. I’m back.
Honey is definitely not going to flunk for aggression. But irrational exuberance? Well…
As long as the evaluator is a stranger to Honey, we’re fine. But one of the tests is walking through a crowd. Another is calmly sitting while I greet another person with a dog. And I pray, with all my heart, that no one we know in our tiny town is part of the test. Because if Honey spots a friend, all bets are off.
Luckily the dog’s trainer is not supposed to be part of the test. It could give an unfair advantage. Yeah right! If Honey spotted Russ, she’d be so smitten we’d have to use a block and tackle to pull her away from him.
It’s not written in the test guidelines but I suspect a dog who bats her eyes with love at her trainer and totally ignores anything her person says to her would also fail.
Pray for Us Now (And At the Hour of Our Test)
We have twelve days until the big test.
Until then we’ll practice, practice, practice. And pray.
Is your dog a Canine Good Citizen? What was (or would be) the hardest for your dog? Loose leash walking? Calm greetings? Tolerating your absence? Stay?