"Good dog" test

Ever since I got Loki (an Australian Shepherd) at the age of 7  months in late November of last year, I’ve been preparing him for  tomorrow night. He will have to pass the CGC evaluation in order to move  on to the more difficult classes like Agility, Rally Obedience, and Treibball. My end-goal for him is to compete casually and hopefully earn some titles in the long run.

In January, we started out with a puppy confidence class. Loki  learned (via clicker training and positive reinforcement) to be a little  bit calmer around other dogs. He learned how to focus on me with  distractions all around us, and he learned two very important commands:  “leave it” and “drop.” Just having those two commands has been a  lifesaver! We finished the class with a four-obstacle agility course:  tire, tunnel, jump, table. He did very well, and he was actually able to  do the course off leash. Granted, no other dogs were around, but I am  very proud of him.

Right after puppy confidence class, we dove into a CGC class. We  worked on attention more and more, along with recall, long stays, and  walking around other dogs. By far, the most difficult part of the test  is walking up to another person with a dog, shaking their hand, and  continuing on. Loki is a very social dog, meaning he loves to play with  other dogs. Teaching him to ignore them has been incredibly challenging,  and if we fail tomorrow night, I’m almost certain that will be why. I’m  not worried, because a failure in this sense is just another chance to  practice our skills and narrow down what we need to work harder on.

Kikopup has a ton of awesome videos on positive dog training. She’s a huge inspiration for me.

Once we’ve taken our first shot at the CGC, we’re moving on to a  distraction proofing class, which should help when we go to take the  evaluation the second time. And even if Loki passes on the first try,  the difficulty of working with higher distractions will be helpful in  the long run.

In preparation for the CGC evaluation tomorrow, I’ve spent all night  getting him worn out. First, we went to the dog park for an hour. Then  we came home and did a 15-20 minute bike ride. We walked downtown and  back, which took another hour. Then we played some “find the toy.” And  now? He’s still raring to go. He’s actually getting into something he  shouldn’t. But that’s what Australian Shepherds were bred for:  never-ending energy. I’m just hoping another bike ride in the morning  and trip to the dog park after work tomorrow will calm him enough so he  passes.