oh my auggie

Payton CGC

Wednesday I happened to be browsing around on a local club’s Facebook page and noticed they were having CGC tests the following night. $10 if you weren’t enrolled in a class (which I am not.) Hmm, $10 isn’t a whole lot… I’ll take Payton!

Immediately after I made that decision I started to panic. What am I doing?! This is the dog who sometimes spontaneously decides he hates random stuff that has always been present, like the bag hanging on the coat rack, or if we move something five inches he thinks it’s an intruder in the house and must be barked at. Or we’re out on a walk and WHAT IS THAT ROCK DOING THERE. or THAT PICNIC BENCH. Or THE FIRE HYDRANT.
And then of course sometimes I see stuff that I think “oh Payton is going to think this is bizarre and bark at it” and he completely ignores it.

But it’s just the CGC right? Right? No big deal… right?

Thursday after work I went through the house and found every weird thing I could come up with to play “Look At That” with him. This is a fairly regular game with him; I regularly patrol the Dollar Spot at Target or the Dollar Store and buy anything that looks bizarre or I think he will find weird so we can play. I found a wind-up t-rex that my parents put in my stocking years ago. This Payton did not like but worked through it quite easily. Next I found the old Bumbleball that I got Auggie when he was a puppy and turned it on – that was a piece of cake! Then I grabbed a plastic bag with tennis balls in it and shook that. Who cares! Threw a handful of cookies on the floor. Nope, you can’t fool me.
Okay, cool.

My next move was to load up Payton in the car and drive to PetSmart so we could practice in a different environment. This is a little bit of cheating because Pay has been to PetSmart a good handful of times, but still, sometimes he sees A Bad Thing at PetSmart and you never know what kind of people or dogs you’ll encounter there, so it’s worth the practice. We did see a man in a wheelchair while there, which he didn’t care about, so that was pretty cool. He did amazing in the store, I was feeling pretty good.
Put him back in the car and he started flipping out at a fire hydrant he saw on the side of the road as we were driving. *facepalm*

We got to the club and got out of the car to a line of people waiting for the doors to open, so I took Payton off in the grass and pottied him and started working. He was doing amazing again so we went closer to the line, where people had dogs freaking out and barking and lunging at other dogs. GREAT. Played more Look At That and he was awesome.

Then we had to get into the building when the doors opened, which meant we had to get actually IN LINE – with all those dogs who were spazzing at other dogs. And spazz dogs make Payton a spazz. I’m not making excuses for my dog, reacting to a reactive dog isn’t a free pass – Auggie doesn’t react to reactive dogs, for example – but “other dogs” aren’t Payton’s, trigger, it’s “other dogs wigging at me.”
My solution was to simply pick him up and hold him until we were in the building and we had more space. I wasn’t going to leave him in line with other dogs stressing around him, making him stressed out. He wasn’t completely calm in my arms but he was a good deal less stressed than if I had left him on the ground, and reducing his stress level to manage his threshold was my goal. Sometimes you have to manage a situation until you have trained through it, so management was my solution at that point in time.

Once we got inside and got my paperwork, I got us settled down in a chair in the corner where we were mostly away from other people and other dogs, and started working on getting him to calm back down. While I filled out my form, Payton had a I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THAT IS I DON’T LIKE IT moment – at the frickin’ CLIPBOARD I was using the fill out my paperwork on. Well this does not bode well. On the other hand, I was able to get him to eat cookies off the clipboard and was able to pick it up and carry it back to the registration desk without him flipping out at it, so we were able to work through it pretty easily.

We watched other people practice for a while and once the floor had cleared out a bit, it was Payton’s turn to practice.
Two things for me to come away from our practice with: One, my dog is not the most reactive dog in the building. Two, my dog may not have the tightest heel in the world, but he does have the most enthusiastic, attentive, happy heel – especially in comparison to some of the other dogs. And this was around OTHER DOGS going spazzo which normally would have him be flipping out. Yes, we were practicing with a handful of cookies (and later with cookies sitting on my chair across the ring) but thinking back to how he reacted at the rally trial in May when I couldn’t even get my dog’s attention back even with cookies right in front of his face, he has definitely made progress.
At this point, I sat down in my chair and thought “It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t get his CGC tonight. This is a win. This is worth it.” I was so immensely proud and he hadn’t even really done anything yet.

Then it was our turn in the ring. Turns out the evaluator was the same evaluator who CGC’d Auggie! We didn’t have a perfect heel in the actual ring, he got more distracted once we were “in the ring.” But he did everything reasonably well – and he was AWESOME in the distraction test! I patted him and told him he was a good boy and he didn’t even really think about reacting to the distractions. The lady dropped a bag full of soda cans pretty much right in front of him, and he just looked offended, like “Why are you throwin’ stuff?” Hardly even looked at the guy hobbling around us on crutches.
The guy who took Payton for supervised separation came back and said “This is the most talkative dog in the world.” Um, uh oh, LOL. Apparently he took Payton in the room and shut the door, and Payton looked at him, muttered something, then turned back to the door and muttered at the door. And kept muttering back and forth. Like “C’mon. We should go back out there. This is boring!” That is apparently NOT a fail, but it was pretty hilarious. Yes, Payton does talk quite a bit. He’s rather obnoxious, I know.

So my Pay has his very first ribbon! I know it’s just the CGC, it’s not like we’ve done anything amazing… but I can’t help being proud when I was anticipating Mr. Horrible Meltdown to come out and play and send us home with me in tears.

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