Canine Good Citizen – Week 2

The last day of class we will be offering the Canine Good Citizen Test. This is an AKC program designed to reward dogs and handlers that demonstrate good canine social behaviors. As you review the descriptions of the individual tests, think about which of the tests will present the most challenges for you and your dog. Plan to put extra work into those areas.
Corrections are not permitted during the tests. While working on the behaviors, we will try and minimize physical corrections and use other means such as controlling rewards, withholding rewards for undesired behavior and waiting for/rewarding correct behavior.
Food or toys are not permitted during the test either. Our goal is to make the handler’s praise very rewarding by consistently pairing it with food and then fading back the frequency of giving the food along with the praise (make it intermittent).
Maintaining the dog’s attention vs. regaining it. Attention should be expected and rewarded from the time the dog leaves the car throughout the class. (See Below). We will ask the dog to sit, wait, and give eye contact at the entrance to the ring and before the dog is permitted to enter. Once the handler gets this focus from the dog, it is the handler’s job to maintain it.
Meet and greet the dogs. Advise the instructors if your dog has any sensitivity to body handling by you or anyone else. If so, let’s discuss how to handle this. During the test the dog doesn’t have to maintain a certain position, but must not show fear or “resentment” (“Resentment” is the AKC’s ridiculously anthropomorphic description.).

Using Your Clicker

What is a clicker?
Just a little plastic box with a metal tab inside. When you depress the tab with your thumb, the clicker makes a “ca-click” sound.
Why use one?
The clicker increases the accuracy and therefore the speed (and fun!) of training.
How does Clicker Training work?
You pair the click sound with the delivery of something your dog loves, such as a yummy treat. (Note: It must be Click then Treat, not the other ‘way round.)
Soon, (generally after between 20 and 50 pairings) the dog acts as if the click were as exciting as the treat. Why? Because Click now announces, “You just won a prize!”
Now that your clicker is “Charged up”, you can use it to “mark” behaviors that you like.
The brief, novel sound of the click is a much more accurate communication, and often a more exciting one for the dog, than is your voice.

“Watch Me”
This cues the dog to make eye contact with you. You can probably picture many uses for this. You can:
Draw your dog’s attention to you before calling him to Come, increasing your chances of success.
When your dog is about to incite another dog to riot, or is being incited himself, by the hot exchange of eye contact (and other potent postures), you can interrupt the interchange without increasing the tension by cueing a “Watch Me”.
You can keep him focused on you as exciting things go on, for example a cyclist or skateboarder passes by.
To teach this:
First, “charge up” your clicker, (see above),
or you can just begin to teach the exercise, and your clicker will get “charged up” as you teach.
Pick your cue word (Remember the Rules of Giving a Cue). You will always use only this word, said just once, to cue the behavior, so pick a word that you will not overuse in everyday life. (“Watch”, “Watch Me”, “Look”, “Attention”.)
Give the cue, then draw a line from the dog’s face to yours with a food treat. The moment you get eye contact, click, then treat.
Repeat 12 times. Be careful: Give your cue word just once at the beginning of the behavior, so it “predicts” the behavior and the consequence for the dog.
Now, give the cue, then using your finger (no food lure) draw a line from the dog’s eyes to yours. As soon as you get eye contact, click and treat.
Repeat 12 times.
Now, with no visible lure, hands behind you, give your cue (“watch me”), then wait, giving no further cue, ’til your dog makes eye contact. It may take several seconds. Your dog may make wrong guesses first. (He may sit, paw, bark…ignore these. Wait for success.) The second he makes eye contact click, then treat.
Repeat. He should get quicker. Repeat 12 times.
Loose Leash Walking. Reward attention to the owner, walking without pulling, responding to commands from the handler: sit, hand targeting, eye contact. The dog pulls when not paying attention to the handler. So, one approach to teaching the dog to walk without pulling is to keep the dog’s attention on the handler. The dog doesn’t have to be giving eye direct contact or even looking directly at the handler in order to be paying attention. One way to maintain the dog’s attention is to do the unexpected. During LLW, ask the dog to sit, to come, to target, and to give eye contact. Praise and treat correct responses. Turn, change direction, and change your pace. Cue the changes in direction with verbal cues, pats on the leg. You can eventually fade these out if you like, but these types of cues are permitted during the CGC test. So, if the handler chooses, she may continue to use them. Make LLW a fun exercise with lots of success and rewards.
Sit and Down. Practice stays, having your dog sit as someone walks by, then approaches more directly but turns away, then approaches and speaks to you but not your dog, then approaches and asks permission to touch the dog, then touches the dog. Also practice leaving your dog in a stay at home or during walks/outings with your dog. Practice so the dog will be successful, don’t push ahead too far too fast.
If the dog can’t sit when someone walks by, he certainly won’t be able to sit when someone walks directly up to him. So, start with walk-bys at a distance, and increase the difficulty as the dog shows success.

Questions? Send Penny an email penny @ (remove the spaces)