Prepping for Canine Good Citizen at La Encantada

Over the weekend, Bernie and I decided we needed to get serious with our prep work for our Canine Good Citizen Class. The CGC test is a mere five weeks away, so we decided to see how many skills we could pack into a Friday afternoon visit.

 Bernie McSquare ignores friendly shoppers at La Encantada in Tucson, Arizona, while we were practicing a down-stay for our Canine Good Citizen class.

Out for a Walk (Walking on a Loose Leash)

Bernie actually walks really well on a loose leash. In general, he responds well to me, changes direction as I do, and pays attention to my cues. The archways, pillars, fountains, and greenery at la Encantada make fantastic obstacles to walk around and weave through. Plus it's great exercise for both of us!

Walking through a Crowd

On the Friday afternoon over Tucson's Rodeo Break weekend, there were a fair number of people shopping and eating. Walking along the various promenades wasn't too crowded, but the courtyard outside the Apple Store had many people coming and going.

Bernie and I spent some time meandering around that courtyard area. Bernie did well following my cues and paying attention to me.

 Overtime we visit La Encantada, Bernie McSquare loves to visit this fountain. He jumps up on the tiled ledges and benches just to watch the water spurt. Here he's practicing his sit-stay.

Sit and Down on Command / Stay

Last spring and summer Bernie and I really worked on his sit-stay and down-stay.

The photo below shows him in the courtyard outside the Apple Store. Even though we were walking around La Encantada before any shops were open, the Apple Store employees were milling about waiting for a store meeting to begin. Boy, they were loud! The perfect distraction and Mr. McSquare kept his perfect down-stay!

 Bernie McSquare remains in his perfect down-stay even with Apple Store employees all over the courtyard behind him. They were certainly excited for their morning meeting.

Since I forgot to bring our 33-foot training lead on this afternoon trip to La Encantada, I decided to improvise by tethering Bernie to the super heavy metal benches that are placed around the shopping center. We started upstairs outside of Tiffany's. This promenade leading to the back parking lot sees some people traffic, but is usually not overly crowded. 

Bernie was doing well. I backed up at least twenty feet a few times to ask him to change from a sit-stay to a down-stay and he did well. Several people walked by and he remained where he was.

Reaction to Distractions

Here's where I went too far.

Bernie was doing so well with his sit-stay that I decided to run by him as a visual distraction. I've run by him before and he's ignored me. But on Friday, two people walked by on the other side of the bench, so at the same time they passed him, I ran right by Bernie. He stood up and wanted to see what was going on.

He wasn't panicked, barking, or showing any sign of distress or aggressiveness. He just seemed curious.

I gave him the verbal "uh-uh" mark and I heard one of the women who had just walked by say with a sigh, "Oh, he got up; he wasn't supposed to.." I didn't say anything because I was focused on Bernie, but don't worry kind stranger. Bernie McSquare bounced right back!

 The upper level of La Encantada has these more isolated nooks where Bernie can practice his sit-stay. People walk back and forth to the parking lot in smaller packs so this location is another great place to practice warming up our skills.
 We love warming up in this more isolated area of La Encantada. People walk by sometimes to provide a distraction, but the area is not heavily trafficked making it a great place to remind Bernie about the expectations for sit-stay and down-stay.

Reaction to Another Dog

After a few more practices with sit-stay and down-stay upstairs, Bernie and I moved back to the Apple Store courtyard and found a bench to tether him. This courtyard had much more activity.

One lady who was texting on her phone was going to walk right by Bernie. Possibly too close to him and I truly didn't think she saw him. I started walking toward him just as she whizzed by my guy. He looked like he might get up, so I gave him a gentle "uh-uh" to settle him because I saw that zippy shopper lady would clear his space. He stayed where he was and when I got to him, he got lots of treats and pets. People at one of the courtyard tables who were watching sounded impressed.

And then I was impressed by my boy.

La Encantada is dog-friendly so there are almost always other dogs there. This kind couple with a tiny super cute pup, maybe a Terrier mix of some kind, saw how well Bernie was doing. When I put him in his next sit-stay, they walked by keeping about four or five feet of distance between the dogs. They also placed their dog on the side farthest away from Bernie. Their dog remained perfectly neutral and Bernie stayed! 

At that point, I did not care that he got up to see what my goofy butt was doing running at him upstairs. A total stranger and another dog walked right by my guy and he kept a solid stay.

One of the best training moments I've had with my Bernie!

 Bernie McSquare takes a moment to savor his treats with his tongue out as he prepares for his Canine Good Citizen Test at La Encantada Shopping Center in Tucson, AZ. 

What training victories have you celebrated?
Let me know in the comments below.