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Tuesday Training Byte: Setting goals

When I have a young dog, I think about this pup's personality and attributes. With these in mind, I make some plans on what I may want to achieve with this dog. The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) is a good starting point. The training for this is sometimes more challenging for some dogs than a rally obedience title. The CGC is about manners, basic obedience, and socialization with other dogs and people, and around distractions. The CGC is the first half of many therapy dog tests, and it serves for half of the AKC trick dog novice title. If your dog can pass the CGC test, you have a dog that is a well behaved partner to take with you in public. If you like to expand your skills, the CGC has two more advanced levels. I have a rescue dog that is coming along nicely, but not quite ready for the CGC test. So, I have set a goal of having him ready in early January to test. Setting that goal helps me plan training time. Currently, he is doing well on most of the test items except for two: walking in a group of dogs and people on a loose leash. He does fine after warming up and settling into the surroundings, but at first he is excited, so I am working on focus. The other skill is the stay. He will need to stay while I walk away about 20 feet, then return without leaving the spot. So my training goals are to incrementally be able to step father away. This is more tricky because I need to slowly increase the three "D's": duration, distance, and distraction. I start out the training session with something easy, then move on to the stay exercise. I do three or four of those, but am very careful to not ask for more than he is able to do. If that session goes well, the goal for the next session will be for me to leave him, walk to the end of the 6 ft leash and wait 15 seconds before returning. Each session I will revise to goal adding more distance or longer duration. Once these are solid, I start adding distractions. My short term goals set the stage for the long range plan. Once ready, you will have a dog that you are proud to take with you. Happy training!

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