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December 28th, 2006, 07:55 AM
My hopes for Autumn my GD puppy is for her to be a therapy dog. To reach our goal she must pass the Good Citizen Test. We are in obedience classes, we just finished puppy class and in 2 weeks start on the next level, which is Elementary School (I love the names of these classes). :p

Can anyone offer me any tips for getting Autumn prepared for the test? I've never shown a dog in my life and not sure what to expect. I know we have a long ways to go as her leash work leaves something to be desired. :o

December 28th, 2006, 08:06 AM
My dog passed the CGC earlier this year. It's not "showing". it's simply passing a basic test, run by a licensed evaluator for the AKC. Here is a link to the AKC's site on the test items:

I took a CGC-prep class at the dog training school I use. it was a 6 wk course, which prepared us for EACH test item. at the end of the course, we took the test. I strongly recommend you take a prep class if one is available in your area.

I didn't even attempt this until my dog finished (and passed) obedience levels 1, 2, and 3 (advanced). I highly doubt my dog would of passed just out of puppy school.

good luck! I had alot of fun preparing for it, and a great sense of accomplishment when my dog passed. it was well worth it! and now he has a very nice CGC diploma on the wall in my house, and a tag on his collar. you know, so when he gets loose and runs amuk in the neighborhood, everyone knows he's a "good citizen" :rolleyes: hee hee...

December 28th, 2006, 08:22 AM
You will want to ensure that your puppy has a good understanding of obedience skills and even more important is the social skills your puppy learns. You don't want your puppy to be scared of anything so you will need to socialize with everything your puppy will see in her lifetime, even things she may not deal with in her daily life.
People, male and female
Kids, all ages
With people you want her to be ok with all kinds of people including people who may be nervous or overly excitable. People with disabilities, including those who may use special apparatus to be mobile or move in a strange way and even talk differently.
Adults and puppies of all temperments and degrees of social skills.
Machines of all kinds
Noises of all kinds, sudden, loud, soft, etc.
Places and spaces
Really you want her to accept everything without issues.

Unfortunately I have seen dogs that have passed the test that shouldn't have. Dogs that had growled at another dog just before the test. If the dog has any issues with people or dogs it shouldn't pass and regardless of passing such test won't be accepted into any therapy programs.
Your trainer can provide the test for your dog if he/she is an evaluator but should not be the one interacting with the dog during the test. The dog should be interacting with strange dogs and people in order to give accurate results. The evaluator should be responsible enough to do this. The whole point of the test is to show that the dog is socially sound. A well behaved dog in public.

Getting involved in therapy work with your dog is a wonderful thing for you and your dog to do together. Good luck

December 28th, 2006, 08:37 AM
As far as the training just keep going over the things that she has already done but in very short sessions, repetition is key for things to sink in solidly, don't worry about what is next just yet focus on what she has learned.

As far as the therapy test, the biggest reason why many will fail is due to startling. That is something you can practise with now, but don't overdo it by flooding her with too much. do things like dropping metal food bowls/cake pans , put a little yogurt or cream cheese on the bowls right after they fall(better afterward so not splattering all over) leave on the floor so she can check out and find the treat, will help her to associate the noise and clatter with good things, praise reward when she does not go bolting off. Either borrow a cane, crutch or use a stick as a substitute walk around the house with, again it will have to be dropped sometimes. A computer chair on wheels can be your "wheelchair" work on approaching her while in the chair, start by giving her a treat while just sitting in the chair and roll it backward away from her and have her follow for a treat, once she is comfortable with that go toward with the chair, as a walker use something like a taller garbage can, lift and put a few inches infront of you and walk toward and repeat. Another thing she would be faced with is IV poles on wheels, you might be able to find someone with a computer chair that they want to throw out because the seating is no good but has a good base and you can rig it up to look like an IV pole with bags hanging off . She has to be exposed to a lot of people, the toughest for most dogs is the older man that is coughing or sneezing, you may having find someone to simulate for you, if lucky you can find volunteers in the puppy or obedience classes that she does not know well.

December 28th, 2006, 09:02 AM
The hardest part of the CGC is the "meet and greet" where you and your dog meet and "greet" a stranger with a strange dog on a leash.

I deal with people in wheelchairs on a daily basis and (Sorry OG) not one of them could be mistaken for an office chair. Some of these babies are not only HUGE but are electric.

Check around and see if there is a workshop in your area. This is a place where the mentally and physically disabled go to work everyday. Go and talk to the coordinator and see if you can bring your dog up when the vans are loading and unloading.

December 28th, 2006, 09:45 AM
Thanks for all the info. I agree, she is not ready for it yet and we plan to finish several more obedience classes (elementary, high school, and senior high) but I will ask my trainer when we start our next class in 2 weeks about a CGC prep class, that certainly sounds like the way to go.

Autumn has been evaluated by 2 different trainers and they both agreed she would be an ideal candidate for the therapy dog program. She has the most lovely disposition and not a mean or aggressive bone in her body towards anything; people, animals, etc. and a very comforting way about her.

My concern at first was that she is going to be so large, and we are doing this to help people and make them feel better certainly not "scare" them but my instructor said her size could be a positive thing as many people are in wheelchairs and sometimes it is hard for them to lean over to pet some of the smaller dogs while Autumn could just as easily plunk her head in their lap if they are comfortable with that. :love:

December 28th, 2006, 04:30 PM
From the sounds of it, I have no doubts that she will pass her CGC early on. It's not a difficult test IMO - I think the Therapy Dog tests are much more difficult (which they should be!!).
Dodger has his CGN (which is the canadian version and has an extra, rather pointless "test" of walking your dog through a doorway LOL).
The CGC should have a part where they startle your dog as well - my trainer dropped a metal bowl on concrete (it certainly freaked me out, Dodger didn't care - he was actually more distracted by those child toys that you push around and have balls in them that pop up LOL!!). I think that for the CGC, most dogs struggle with sitting politely for petting and the 3 minutes of supervised separation. Most dogs are either too exciteable (friendly) about being brushed/petted or are nervous about a stranger petting them. For the seperation, many aren't used to their owners leaving their sight when they aren't at home (the dog doesn't actually have to hold a stay for the supervised seperation but I personally think that's they best way to go about it!!)

I want to get Dodger's therapy dog certification as well...I know he could pass the test but I don't want to rush him. He does have issues with strange dogs and he's a little too exuberant when greeting children:o

I think that any therapy dog should have a bombproof leave it because if you visit nursing homes (or any health care centre), your dog is likely to encounter some spilled pills and the last thing you want, is for your dog to dive for it.

December 29th, 2006, 10:02 AM
Odie passed his CGC when he was 11 months old...The best advice I can give you is socialize...walk down the street and ask people if they would like to pet your dog...put him in a sit/stay and make sure he stays there while they pet him...also hand the person a brush and ask them to brush him a for meeting new dogs on leash and shaking the owner's hands...again walk down the street and just do it...when we did our test there was a three minute "someone else holds your dogs leash and you leave the room" test...practice that...Odie is so attached and committed I had to work very hard to do that without him dragging teh person to the door (he may be little but he's a tank:P)...after a while we got it dow to himstaying and talking for a while (yes, Odie talks...)