by Marilyn Miller
Rocko's class exercises are interesting as something new is always introduced. This week Terence introduced two CGC steps. One was "reaction to another dog" and the other was "supervised separation." For the first, two dogs and handlers had to meet each other from across the room, shake hands and say hello while their dogs sat in heel position. The other dogs in the class were doing a sit or down stay during this exercise. The handlers did this with the other handlers and their dogs. For the supervised separation, the handlers went into a room off the training area - out of sight of their dogs and the leashes were on hooks on the wall. The dogs were not to cry, bark or show signs of stress. When we returned to the dogs they were not allowed to jump on us. We sat in our chairs and on the count of three we reached for a treat and gave it to them for their reward. This is not a Canine Good Citizen class, but each week a couple of the ten requirements are practiced, so that when the course becomes available the exercises will not be strange to us. Earlier in the course we practiced "accepting a friendly stranger" and "to sit politely for petting".
A lot of this week's class covered handling skills and positional exercises. We sat in a chair with our dog sitting in heel position to our left. We guided them in front of us and around our chair to return to heel position using the word "around". We did this several times. The last two times instead of having the dog return to heel position we would guide the dog under our legs and do a down - stay while we stood up and counted to three before sitting down. Three small cones were placed in front of each handler in a triangle pattern. With the dog sitting to our left we guided them to the right around the cones using the word around. Next we guided them around the cones and back behind us around the chair and returning to heel position. We also tried this starting with the dog sitting on our right and going around in the other direction and back around the chair all to the left. This was very hard for me as having the dog sit on my right is completely foreign to me. Again we used the word "around". These exercises are used to get the dog to watch our arm and get used to some signals. The word "around" is one of the most commonly used words in obedience (with finishes) and Rally.
Judge Elizabeth Chase told us at a seminar I attended recently that the word "around" is the most important word she teaches her Corgis.
We have worked on left and right hand signals and did several of each Tuesday night. Rocko is ahead of that game, as I have taught those at home, both doing them verbally and with a hand signal. We are also working on the hand signals for sits and downs. He is stronger when I say them verbally so we do the hand signals first, then the verbal commands. It is best to do the weakest first.
Terence placed 3 cones down the middle of the training room. We called our dog to come to us and at the middle cone we would put our hand out in front of us and say "WAIT". The dog was to stop at that command. This is very similar to the Drop on Recall. I doubt if I will do Open again, but Rocko is learning this exercise. I use the word "Down" instead of Wait, just in case. In the past I found this exercise the most difficult to teach in Open. He knows it to the point of almost anticipating the command Down.
We have thrown a treat 2' away from us while the dog sits in heel position. He must stay in that position. When Rocko makes eye contact with me I allow him to get the treat.
One week we had the dog weave between our legs. At first Rocko was afraid to go between my legs. He is over that fear now. He does the weave nicely. However, walking and having him weave between my legs is completely out of my realm. This class is fun for both dog and handler. It is not the same boring repetition of the same exercises week after week.
Blaze earned her Beginner Novice title on July 15th. She placed Third with a score of 188 and a half. We are very proud of Blaze. I have her signed up for the Merrimack Valley Kennel Club Shows on Sept. 1st and 2ed at American K9 Country in Amherst, NH. Our trainer does not think we are ready for Novice B, but Blaze and I are working hard and we will give it a try. We won't know where we stand unless we do.
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