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Panda is My Right ARM

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It’s time for a second shot at Canine Good Citizen (CGC). CGC is a program through the American Kennel Club (AKC). AKC believes that “all dogs can be good dogs, and all owners can be great owners.” The key to any training program is the three main ingredients, training, lots of love and an abundance of praise along the way. The three ingredients are not just the dog. Much of it is towards the owner as well. Your dog already knows how to be a dog, and you presumably know how to be a human. Both of you need to learn how to bridge the gap between dog and human. Yesterday was the first day of Panda’s second attempt at this class. She attended the first program at Versa Dog Sports in Layton, Ut. It was a great class, but Panda was a little too young and could not get past the people she assumed were there to see her. That was what caused her not to pass the class. She is about a year older now, and we have been working on her training a lot. Panda attended a two-week boot camp that did wonders for her in the fall. For her boot camp program, she went to K9 Fluent Dog Training in Sunset, UT. It is remarkable what she accomplished in that two-week program. I should add that I also attended some of her training. It is not just about training the dog. It also has to be about teaching the person. Panda also has been attending Play School at Versa Dog Sports. It’s like Daycare, but it also includes a training element. Playschool provides her the socialization she needs with other dogs, but also they work on Manners to reduce jumping, loose leash walking, recall, leave it, stay and Down. These are the basics for a well-behaved dog. We have also started going to businesses together. We are going to public places and companies to reinforce proper behavior when and where there are many distractions. This part of the training is toughest on me because I have to be consistent about telling people that she is a working dog and they may not pet her—most of the time, people understand and respect that. Back to the CGC training and the requirements to pass. The dog owner’s pledge to be a responsible dog owner was the first thing yesterday. Then we started working on the training to pass the certification test. There are ten behaviors on which she will be tested. 1. Accepting a friendly stranger – When a stranger approaches me, she must show no signs of aggression, shyness or jumping on the stranger. 2. Sitting Politely for petting – here, she must demonstrate that she will allow a friendly stranger to touch her while she is out with me. During this interaction, she must remain with four on the floor: no jumping up and no shyness or resentment. We worked on those two requirements this week. Next week we will review what we learned and check progress. Then we will move on to appearance and grooming and lose leash walking. I will go into more detail about those next week. Two important takeaways from this blog1. As a dog owner, you have to be committed to spending the time needed to train your dog. Your dog wants to please you. It is your responsibility to teach her how to behave to please you. 2. You are a big part of the training. If you cant spend the time to train your dog, you are not being fair to your dog and not being a responsible dog owner. Having a dog in your home is a beautiful thing. They are caring and loving and desperately want to be part of your family. Panda has been by my side most of the time since we got her about 18 months ago. Every morning as we start our day, I let her out of her crate and sit on the edge of the bed. She will come over to me and jump up to give me a morning hug. I return the hug, pet her, and whisper to her reassuring her how much she is loved. I put her collar on her, and go downstairs together, where we both have breakfast. Then on most mornings, we take a walk. The walk is about 30 minutes and from 1½ mile to 2 miles. The morning walk has been kind of tough during the cold winter months. But that exercise is so important to her, and to my health, we do it as often as possible. Then I start my workday. Panda spends a lot of that time in her crate, but I take breaks periodically to let her outside and chase the ball. Again something good for both of us. It makes me more productive at work, and she is better behaved. Panda is such a great dog. She loves me unconditionally. Last week someone told me if I ever need to get rid of her I should call them. My response was, “I couldn’t get rid of her any more than I could get rid of my right arm.”

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