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Today, Fluffy and I started the first of what will likely be many, many CGC training sessions. We worked on:

Distance down-stay (30 ft). He already knows most of the foundations of many of the exercises, but only the basics. He does pretty good on the stay for about 10-15 seconds, then starts to get antsy. If I tug on the leash at all, he comes right to me all happy—“Yes? You called?”. We may need to work on a few closer ones, I guess.

Desensitizing touch. He loves handing people his paw to shake, and doesn’t mind a few rubs on the ears, but the teeth? That’s a no-no, and he’ll jerk back as much as he can to make me stop.

Come here. Perfect if he’s not interested in something, but if he is, it’ll take a little bit and a tug on the leash or two (which is where, I think, his confusion in stay is coming from) before he will come. Silly human, pulling him away from a nice smell.

We did all of this in the backyard, and I expect everything will fall to pieces if he sees another dog. Still, he did pretty decently for a first day. 😀
 

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You‘re doing a good job. Remember when working in the backyard, it’s a very distracting space. Lots of good smells and wild animals. And yes add in other dogs in class and it gets much harder.

keep working at it every day in short sessions and you’ll be amazed at how far you have come by the end of the classes.
 

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Speaking from the perspective being a CGC evaluator I will tell you I am rooting for your two to succeed. You will get it done. As you seem to be doing I would focus on a couple of tasks at a time rather than trying to teach/practice all ten items at once. When I run CGC classes I always work on two or three new things each week and review things from the previous week so that by the time the test comes we know the dog will last through all of the tasks. Another thing to remember is that as you teach new things you do them up close and for short duration at first. The last thing to add is distractions. Be prepared that as you add distance you will probably have to shorten and then rebuild that. Once you are ready to add distractions you will probably have to shorten the time and maybe also the distance until the dog really understands what you want. We took a class with the evaluator for Lily and Peeves. By the time I was working on it with Javelin I was already an evaluator and taking a class seemed a little silly anyway, so I taught and proofed it all myself. I used a local PetSmart, a Petco and Lowes as practice and proofing locations. He learned to do the distance stay and the recall in PetSmart right in front of the doggy day care in a position where although there is noise buffering he could see crazy dogs jumping all over the glass. I had him tested at a very busy obedience and rally trial site with a couple of hundred dos and at least that many people. He was really ready. If you have any questions, please ask.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
If you have any questions, please ask.
Wow! Thank you so much! I actually have a couple of questions already, if that’s okay.

One, how long do you typically keep a session to? We’ve been doing 15-20 minute sessions, but he still seems to want to go afterwards, and doesn’t “turn off” for another 20 minutes or so. I have burned him out before, but it’s hard to resist when he’s so willing...

Two—we started out today with come. I started calling him over randomly instead of waiting until the end of the leash to combat the issues I had yesterday, and he did good at that, but when we started doing down-stays and I was starting to back away, he got up, walked a little bit away, and then came back and sat in front of me. I made him go back to the stay, and made the distance even shorter, but should have I rewarded him for coming? I don’t want him to think he won’t get anything for it.

I like the idea of using pet stores and other places for proofing. We’ll have to try that once Fluffy has mastered the backyard.

Thank you again! It really means a lot.
 

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Two—we started out today with come. I started calling him over randomly instead of waiting until the end of the leash to combat the issues I had yesterday, and he did good at that, but when we started doing down-stays and I was starting to back away, he got up, walked a little bit away, and then came back and sat in front of me. I made him go back to the stay, and made the distance even shorter, but should have I rewarded him for coming? I don’t want him to think he won’t get anything for it.
Not addressed to me, but I thought I’d add my input anyway. No, he should not be rewarded for coming if you told him to stay. That teaches him that a stay is not only not mandatory, but also that he gets treats if he breaks it. Not what you want. Whenever my dog breaks a stay, he’s immediately redirected right back into that position and only rewarded for holding the appropriate command.

Another thing you want to avoid is: dog breaks stay. You put dog back and immediately give treat. Dog learns that getting up and being put back gets the reward a lot faster than simply staying put in the first place. I’m not saying this is what you’re doing at all! It’s just a common thing people do without thinking.
 

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No worries, if I hadn't meant you could ask I wouldn't have offered! It has been months since I did any real work with anyone else's dog(s). I am looking forward to my club reopening next week but in the meantime will be happy to offer ideas.

Wow! Thank you so much! I actually have a couple of questions already, if that’s okay.

One, how long do you typically keep a session to? We’ve been doing 15-20 minute sessions, but he still seems to want to go afterwards, and doesn’t “turn off” for another 20 minutes or so. I have burned him out before, but it’s hard to resist when he’s so willing...If you know he will stick with you a while longer then go on, but do something different. Poodles don't really do well with being drilled the ways BC and goldens tend to be fine with. My rule is if the poodle has been right 3 times it is now a good idea to move on to something else. The other thing you can do if you have duration for a couple of things then string those into a sequence like loose leash for as far as you can go with no pulling, then do a couple of stays or recalls or whatever else you know the dog can be successful with. Practice keeping attention between exercises as you add this step. In other words if I did down stays in front of doggy day care then we would move to the cat food aisle for recalls. Rule being the leash had to stay loose as we headed for the cat food.

Generally though the best thing is to end with success so you really have to read the dog for focus and stop whatever you are doing while you still have it. At this point if I misread and lose attention I break out to a game like tug or tossing some cookies and asking for a drop while Javelin is returning or tossing a cookie and calling him directly to sit at heel. The games all involve behaviors I will want/need in some other context but by taking it to a less formal manner the dogs will think wow this is fun, yeah I think I want to stick to her and what she wants us to be doing.


Two—we started out today with come. I started calling him over randomly instead of waiting until the end of the leash to combat the issues I had yesterday, and he did good at that, but when we started doing down-stays and I was starting to back away, he got up, walked a little bit away, and then came back and sat in front of me. I made him go back to the stay, and made the distance even shorter, but should have I rewarded him for coming? I don’t want him to think he won’t get anything for it.

As to this sort of thing, Pytheis is correct. You didn't want him to come, you wanted him to stay so don't reward the come. Put him back at the stay and break him out before he breaks (no treat this time because that teaches him that the exercise is not just down and stay but rather down, move, get corrected for a treat). Put him back on down stay and give him a treat while he is still on the down and staying. Repeat that correctly so that he only gets a treat for remaining on the down. Right now I am working on breaking a stupid thing I allowed to develop with Javvy. He s a really beautiful heeler, loves all of the really hard obedience exercises (scent articles, go outs, signals) and has real potential for an OTCh in him so I want his set ups and between exercise work to be perfect too. He had been forging at set ups and so stupidly I started telling him to fix that by telling him sit back (which he always did). Well now he thinks get close (his set up order) means sit forged, look for eyes (meaning look up at me) and then move himself to correct the forge. Ding there goes half a point. If he does that for every set up at heel in just one novice routine there go at least 4 or 5 points. To fix it I am now doing a very tedious amount of redoing set ups and not rewarding anything other than an absolutely perfect sit straight, no forge, no lag the first time without me saying anything, but rather saying oops if he is out of position and getting him up and moving to stop and look for a great set up to reward. Last week in my private lesson with my trainer we spent at least 15 minutes of the hour just dealing with that particular issue. Most people don't need that kind of precision, but the core for most people who want to do CGC and other sort of formal things is not to pay for the wrong behavior or to inadvertently add things into the behavior that are counter to orders.
I like the idea of using pet stores and other places for proofing. We’ll have to try that once Fluffy has mastered the backyard.

Thank you again! It really means a lot.
Again any time.
 
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Today’s session started less than great. Fluffy spun around on the leash, ignored me, and I couldn’t get him to focus for a good 2-3 minutes. I had to bring out the trick training (shake, etc.) for him to really notice me. When he did finally pay attention to me, though, he did better at his down-stays than he has been. No more getting up and walking away in the middle, and we’re up to a whole 25 seconds!

When I was doing a session with my other dog, one of my neighbors brought their dog out on their deck. Misty didn’t really take too much notice, apart from a few barks and snorts, but we finished quickly. Since Fluffy was doing a lot better at his work, I decided to bring him out.

He didn’t notice at first. A sniff sniff here, a sniff sniff there. A glance over at me. Then he noticed.

He stood still, on guard. He let out a little half-bark. I called for him to look at me. And then... Miracle of miracles... He looked over at me, turned towards me, and did a sit! I’m sure the neighbor thought I was crazy with all the hollering I was doing. We did a couple of (short) down-stays before we went inside. I didn’t want to ruin the good behavior.

In other news, Misty refuses to lay down on the grass because it is a New Experience and therefore Bad. She walks and sits on it all the time 😂. I spent most of her session re-training her down again :rolleyes:. You win some, you lose some, I guess.
 

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Shaky starts will happen until you really are able to proof your work. I think that was all really good given where you are in the process. Are you also going to do CGC with Misty? If yes but not at an outdoor location then I wouldn't make a big deal over not doing a down in the grass until you have tested the CGC. Keep working that connected attention. It paid off well today and it will get better and better (closer, longer, bigger distractions).
 
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Are you also going to do CGC with Misty
I’m so sorry! I thought I replied! Yes, I am going to try to do CGC with Misty, although I have a feeling that even with Fluffy’s reactivity, she’s going to take longer than him. She’s getting a lot slower now that she’s older. I’m not sure where the test is will be held at yet, but we’ll try taking her off the grass for now.

Fluffy did great today! One of the neighbor’s dogs was whining and howling while we were walking (wanted to play, I think), and Fluffy only barked once! And then, when we stepped out to go for a training walk, our next door neighbor stepped out at the same time, and Fluffy looked over at them, then back at me. We’re adding heeling this week, since he is getting the hang of come and stay.
 

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So, we've encountered a roadblock of sorts with heel. He pays attention fine, and he's got the 'look up at me' down pretty good. But... When we walk forwards, Fluffy jumps right in front of me and tries to stay by me at the same time, all while ignoring the terrain and walking backwards. I like that he's paying attention to me, and at least he sort of gets it, but I don't want to step on him 😅. I don't know if it's how I'm teaching it, since my other dog kind of lags behind, although she really doesn't pay attention to me (I told her to heel earlier, and she tried to walk away with a grumpy look on her face). This is probably one of the hardest things I've ever tried to teach them to do 🤣. They really don't seem to get it.

On the plus side, we've slowly started taking a step towards other dogs instead of away, and Fluffy's started ignoring dogs that are about 90 ft away.
 

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It sounds like he really wants to gain direct eye contact with you. That works just fine for standards since they can just turn their neck and see all the way to your face without snaking in front of you. For small dogs (puppies and tpoos, etc.) your face is probably an unrealistic option. If you can find videos of people with chihuahuas, minidoxies and other dogs that are short on height doing high level obedience you will see the dog focuses on the handlers knee thigh or hip.

Also please understand that you don't need obedience performance style heeling for a CGC you just need a loose leash while you follow the pattern being called by the evaluator. If I evaluated for real heeling by my standards, no one would ever get their CGC. Just a loose leash.... Teaching real heeling is very very hard to teach. I spent six months against walls and ring gates making sure that I had heads up attention without moving, then heads up and we go one step, head still up?, yes give a cookie. After one step heads up in the right position then add another step. It is very tedious and hard and if I had a house dog I would never bother teaching real heel, just polite loose leash. I hope that takes some pressure of in thinking about CGC. If you plan to go on in sports like rally or obedience then I would take the time and trouble to teach proper heeling.
 

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It sounds like he really wants to gain direct eye contact with you. That works just fine for standards since they can just turn their neck and see all the way to your face without snaking in front of you.
That makes since, I did teach 'look at me' when I was on my knees next to him, not thinking of how high he had to look up if I stood. How loose of a lead does it have to be? Should I bunch the leash up in my hand and have him walk beside me, without the ability to charge forwards? Or can I just let him roam at the end of the leash, so long as there isn't any tension?
If you plan to go on in sports like rally or obedience then I would take the time and trouble to teach proper heeling.
I do hope to eventually go up to a higher level of obedience training; he enjoys training too much to not continue further. A loose lead will have to do for now, though--not sure I want to wait another six months or more just to get the CGC. By the way, what is the difference between rally and obedience? I've heard of them both being used interchangeably, but it seems that rally is more advanced somehow? Or is it the other way around?

Thank you for your help!
 

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He should pay attention or at least do frequent check ins. You can show sufficient loose lead by just having a little dip of a "J" near his collar. He shouldn't do any lunching, but remember also you can give a friendly reminder to him to stay with you if needed. One thing that dings lots of people in CGC and even in rally and obedience is putting a slip chain on as the collar. It makes noise every time the leash tightens and even if an evaluator or judge doesn't see it they will hear it and there goes a point.

Obedience is more formal than rally. In an obedience ring you can give an order when you start to heel, but you can't tell the dog to sit without losing points or maybe even getting an NQ. There are 3 main required levels of obedience to move through and they are novice (CD), open (CDX) and utility (UD). There are a number of optional titling classes too (pre novice, graduate novice and so forth). Most of novice is on leash. For open and utility you take your leash off at the start of your routine and you put it back on at the end. For all classes in obedience the judge will give orders for each exercise.

In rally follow a course set up with signs that tell you what to do. The only thing the judge will say in the way of orders is forward and exercise finished at the end. The key is for you to know what the signs mean. Some of them are a little cryptic. Essentially I think of rally as a series of "tricks" connected by heeling which can be less formal than you want for obedience. You can talk more to keep connected to your dog. There are also three required titling classes (novice, on leash; advanced, off leash, one jump; excellent, off leash 2 jumps). There are also optional classes like intermediate and as of 2017 there is a champion title for rally (like an OTCh in obedience). The RACh requires a master title and 300 points, 20 triple (advanced, excellent, master) qualifiers in single trials. Lily and I have been working towards the RACh with a hugely badly timed hiatus for COVID. We have 3 levels of rally master, 11 levels of RAE (advanced/excellent) and over 200 points. I expected we probably could have finnished this month but we lost 11 trials between April and the end of July because they have been cancelled. Blech.

Lily has an open title but just is too soft to do the away work for utility which is why I refocused her to rally which we really enjoy. For Javelin he got a rally novice title before he turned one in 2016. He got his third leg at the last time PCA was in Maryland, really just to get him a title at poodle nationals. His main focus right now is obedience. My goal is at least the advanced UDX (which comes from combining open and utility legs. I have a lofty goal of an OTCh with him. He will not do anymore rally until he at least has a UD.
 
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For heeling- could you reward with something lockable on the end of a long handled spoon? That way, he can learn to be where you want him rather than forging ahead of you. Basically one of the ways I taught Annie to walk nicely beside me was to "reward where a perfect dog would be" which is really easy with an almost 25" standard, but hard with a small dog. Alternatively, if he knows how to follow a spoon with his nose you could teach that way.
 

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Yes I have seen folks with height challenged dogs use a long handled kitchen spoon with peanut butter on it. But you have to make sure the peanut butter is a reward, not a help yourself buffet item. The other thing to do is to cut cheese or hot dogs into small bits and hold them in your mouth. You can then either spit a bit at the dog when you want to reward (you have to train that). Or you can remove a piece from your mouth and give it to the dog. That also is a trained behavior. You want the dog to learn that you own and chose to give the food and you want them to receive the food while maintaining the behavior you are rewarding.
 

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Okay, thank you! Guess I need to do some reading on Rally signs, that sounds like the ideal choice for us, Fluffy doesn’t do well with hard obedience at all... I actually saw a trainer on TV (some show where the guy takes rescue dogs and rehabilitates them, Lucky Dog I think it was called), and he was using sort of a arm grabber device that held a single treat at a time. I looked at it on Amazon, but wasn’t sure it was worth the money. Maybe I should re-look into it 🤔.
 

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Show a link for that treat thingy please. I'd be curious to see it and wonder if it is worth it.
 
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I like the idea of that and think that might be just fine. The thing to remember is you wouldn't let your dog just play with it. You would have to discipline yourself not to keep luring forever. I would think you would teach what you want with it then fade quickly and bring it back to reinforce and refresh on an as needed basis. You would also have to think carefully about where to present it. I don't think it is desirable to have the dog think they can just look straight ahead. It wouldn't promote connection to you.

Thank you for the link.

edited to fix typos
 
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