Sunday, January 15, 2006

AWESOME CGN Training Course

Never would I have believed that I would be able to walk Shasta without her Halti or Gentle Leader with the nerve damage in my arms and hands, along as my other conditions...but I can now, with only one small instruction. Don French is a FANTASTIC trainer!
Years ago, and I'm talking many years back, I took my GS for Obedience. It was NOTHING like this at all. We used the choke chains with firm commands and pulls to the choke chain. Don told us he wanted us to use our flat collars. No training collars what so ever. I thought perhaps I should explain my disabilities to him, or perhaps I didn't belong in this class, so I emailed him. He assured me we would be fine and should attend the classes.
I had used the Halti or Gentle Leader on her since she was younger as a simple pull at times, felt like she was pulling my arm out by the socket. Sometimes I was so tempted to let go of the leash, but knew that I couldn't.
That's when I tried different types of harnesses. One was the No-Pull harness which was better, although still at times difficult. Once I found the Halti, I was so happy.
In the Ontario Legislation Act of Bill 132, it says a Pit bull must be attached to the collar of the dog. So as not to break the Law, I attached the leash first to the Gentle Leader and then to the collar. It was a lot of head gear to put on, a long with the muzzle. Poor Shasta!
As I read what Don expected of us, I became even more anxious and afraid. Not only did he want the dogs to be attached to a flat collar, but we were to walk our dogs with a loose leash. I had always taught Shasta, that when I gave her full reign, that meant 'Do your thing and I will follow!' Basically, it meant FUN TIME! So HOW was I going to ever walk Shasta on a normal collar with a loose leash?
I couldn't believe that in just one class, I would learn so much. You see...Don isn't training the dogs. He's training us. In that first class, he taught us how to get the dogs full attention focused on us, even with abstractions. He had us walking with a normal collar and a loose leash with the dogs walking by us. I was stunned, amazed and so excited how simple it was once we were taught a few basic rules. Within 5 minutes, if that, Shasta was walking nicely by my side and has continued to do so.
Naturally, I continued practicing with her throughout the week, but yesterday I knew I really had a challenge with my two small grand kids coming to spend the night. The first 15 minutes was always a nightmare, as she was always so excited to see them, she forgot all manners. How would she react when she saw them yesterday? I got her and I prepared, with a treat bag filled with pea size treats on my belt at my hip and hooked up her leash. Once the buzzer rang, I unlocked the door and knew my daughter would just walk in if it was unlocked.
Julian (the youngest) always runs to my door and loves to knock. That was my que to get Shasta to focus on me and not who was at the door. As they rushed in yelling 'GRAMMA! GRAMMA! I told them I would talk to them shortly, but first needed to work with Shasta.
I had her attention and as I could see he start to look away, again I gained that control of her focus. It took a few short times, but soon I was walking her by my side around the room. When I knew I had that complete focus, I then took her to first one grand child, told her sit, and then told Jonathan that now she was sitting nice, he could pat her for being so good. Then to the next grand child and finally my daughter. It was easier than I thought it would be! This was the first time EVER she never went balistic with excitement.
While I was making dinner, I decided to practice the stay as I walked away and returned again. Only I didn't just walk away and return, I had her 'sit' and 'stay' while I cooked supper and then would return and praise her. A few times through the night, the kids would be playing with her and she started to jump up as Jonathan asked her for a hug. Something I always thought was cute before, but now told Jonathan, no more hugs. Instead we told her 'off' and then she would get patted. The kids were thrilled to use the word 'off' since they knew it was a command they could use on her. Jonathan asked me if she was going to his school and I explained it was just a school for only doggies and their owners. Even so, he was quite impressed that Shasta was going to school as any 6 year old would be. Julian (3 years old) now wanted to go to school too, but I'm not sure if he wanted to go to people school or doggie school. LOL
It feels so good to take her out for walks and not having to go through putting on any of the extra head gear on her. A leash and a muzzle and we are ready to go, unless she is pulling the wagon or sled, in which I then put on her pulling harness.
Trimming her nails was always an adventure. Me, because I was nervous I might cut too far and her feeling my nervousness. Now, not only am I not nervous, but she offers me her foot. In one lesson, we have come so far together. I'm excited to learn more as I notice that we aren't only training 15 minutes during the day and 15 at night, but more so all through out the day.
Don told us it would be fun, but I didn't realise just how much fun he meant. And it's not just me having the fun, Shasta is totally enjoying this too, which makes it all the better.
I missed Saturdays lesson as it was at the same time that I had previously made arrangements to babysit, but Lindy phoned me telling me what the lesson was about. Plus I have our instruction book, so we don't get left behind. Some of it, Shasta already knows, so it's more of a reinforcement that I know I taught her that part well.
I highly recommend this program to anyone with a dog...and if you are fortunate enough, there is no one more amazing and good natured as Don!


IndyPindy said...

Wow, neat class! What's CGN? What's the name of the school that you are going to? My mom would like to see if she can find classes like that around here! Good work Shasta!

Conners said...

It could be called something different in the States as this is put out by the CKC, but it's the Canine Good Neighbour Course that is not only for Pit bulls, but because right now Pit bulls in Ontario have to be Super Dogs (there is no such thing as just being a dog anymore for Pit bulls)and this course teaches dogs full restraint for any situation.
eg: I was rescueing a 8 yr. old female Pit bull that had never bit in her life. But, this guy decided to tease it to see how far he could get away with. (He didn't like Pit bulls) Finally, she gave a warning growl to leave her alone and tried to get away, but he wouldn't leave the situation a lone. She finally scratched him with one tooth that led to a tickle of blood. THAT right there is what you call a vicious attack as she broke the skin. The courts put her on a distroy order, but allowed her to remain in the families home and that's when she contacted me about rescue.
You see Indy, Pit bulls in Ontario have no such word as nip. This is a family dog with kids that was good her whole life, but in one second she weakened and it meant her life, no matter what the situation. Sound fair? NO! Not to me neither, but that's the way the law is written. Had it been another dog, it would have been called a prevoced (sp? nip, but that is NOT in the Pit bull vocabulary.
Therefore I have Shasta in this course so she my never run into a situation like this and if she does, she will know what NOT to do no matter what. Full restraint!

IndyPindy said...

That is terrible! She behaved just right!

Yes, in the U.S. this is called the Canine Good Citizen program. My mom wants to take me to a class for this. I don't know why, I'm already a good citizen! But it sounds like a really neat class!

pitbulljungle said...

Yippee! Glad that you're back in the land of blogs. Oh, I stole your no Liberal voting thing but I figured that you wouldn't mind.

Amstaffie said...

Way to go Shasta! You're gonna graduate at the top of your class! Keep us updated on how the training is going.

Conners said...

It's a FANTASTIC course no matter what country you're in and your mom is right Indy. You SHOULD go. All dogs and owners should go. It gives your mom a whole new outlook that you and the other dogs can really relate to. Here I was so busy treating Shasta like a human, not thinking about who she really came from and what her real instincts stem from. You'll LOVE it and so will your mom!
And you silly willy pitbulljungle! How can you steal from me something that wasn't mine in the first place? LOL You give me far too much credit and NO! I don't mind one little bit!
Awww Andee, you always have the sweetest things to say. Although my first reason, at first for taking this course was out of fear from what I have heard happen to dogs that have made the tiniest of error in judgement. Now I see that both Shasta and I are enjoying ourselves even more than in a long time. It also takes our minds off of the ban somewhat as we are keeping bust practising what we've learnt and perfecting it.
We scared a lady tonight. *giggle* It was an accident. *opps* But see, if Shasta does pull even a bit on her leash, I distract her by going in a new direction for a short time. We were walking up the street. Shasta pulled a little so I turned her around and there was a woman coming...took one look at Shasta's muzzle and gasped! It wasn't Shasta she was afraid of but the muzzle. was I to know there was anyone behind me. ROFL I bad!