Friday, February 26, 2010

Final Class

Last night Kona went to her final CGC class. We arrived a few minutes early so I stayed in the car and fed Kona treats through her crate. I (finally) learned it's possible to enter through the back door of the training center, which is connected to the parking lot and avoids having to walk the block around the corner on a very busy street.

When I took Kona out of her crate, she was very anxious and yanked me across the parking lot. The puppy class before us ran overtime, so we stood by the backdoor for at least five minutes with a couple other classmates. Kona was on high alert and spent a fair share of time whining, but she was still able to take treats and even sat when I asked her to. (Although she could only stay seated for a couple seconds-a good sign of her anxiety).

When we finally went inside, most of our classmates where already seated. Kona eyed the wall of 8+ dog and handler teams. Then her tail came out and she pulled me to the other side of the room. She wagged her tail in search of someone to greet. Was this my dog? Our trainer has a rule that the dogs cannot interact during class, so she found the first solo human. A man! She wagged her tail and gave him a full sniffdown. We were off to a good start.

For our last pre-test class, each team went through a run through of about six or seven of the ten tests. Kona preformed just as expected. She retreated when approached by the examiner. (She had just ran up to this same person five minutes earlier, took treats and even tolerated some pats. Seems weird, but just what you'd expect from a fearful dog. She's OK when she controls the interaction, but feels uncomfortable when the tables turn.) She didn't run away for the sit for petting, but she didn't stay seated and ducked if a hand went over her head.

She did great for the obedience tests and was perfect on her loose-leash walk. To my surprise, she stayed right at my heel during the distraction test when the examiner walked by with a rolling suitcase.

We ended with the supervised separation. For the sake of time, I left her for two minutes, instead of three. This test could go either way next week. Apparently, the big thing that makes the dogs fail for being anxious is if they vocalize at all. I thought Kona would fail for pulling herself to the end of her leash/as far away from the examiner, but that may very well be fine. She did whine a bit yesterday. The funny thing for Kona is that if she's really scared, she'll probably just pull to the end of the leash and not make a peep (and pass). If she's more relaxed with whoever is on the other end of the leash, she's more likely to whine (and fail). That's fearful Kona versus anxious Kona.

All in all, Kona had a great night. She was more friendly with people than I have ever seen her before. I like to think it's because she's becoming more brave, but I know a lot of it has to do with her becoming comfortable with the facility, and having seen these people several times before. But still, she was one brave doggy!

This morning, I planned on going for our really really long run. But..I stayed up till midnight watching the Olympics! So when I woke up this morning, I decided that I would take Kona out with her long leash for a fun hike. Besides, she deserved something special today.

The sunrise greeted our arrival.

I had Kona start on her short leash, and in good I just-got-out-of-the-car-and-I'm-nervous Kona fashion, she pulled her tail down and pulled her way up the trail.

By the time we reached the top of our first hill, the sun was on the rise and Kona settled down a bit. I put her on her 20' line and let her run for the next couple miles.

We were on Kona's favorite trail and she explored like a maniac. It's always fun to see her run. She's an insane athlete, and if I'm not quick enough to redirect her, she'll be mountain goating up the side of a near vertical wall.

When we reached the high point of our hike, Kona jumped up on the green bench where she posed for pictures on our snow run a couple weeks ago. Today, a westernly wind blew into her face and she sniffed away at the moving scents. Another good morning.


Sara said...

Kona was wagging her tail for a strange man? I think she should have passed the test right then! That's so great.

It sounds like Kona had a very brave night. You must have been so proud of her!

She looks happy sitting on the bench.

Sam said...

I hope that you'll continue training classes with her. She sounds so much like Marge, and I credit training classes with giving Marge a whole new social life. Kona is doing great and I think classes can be a whole new world for her!

She is the same exact way about controlling the interaction - the only problem is that people don't like to just let her do her thing and feel the need to try to pet her as soon as she sniffs them. I'm sure you experience something similar.

Priscilla said...

I read your introduction about Kona and she has really gone a long way. You must be proud of her.
May I know how old she is now?
We hope we can take Eva to obedience class soon after she gets her 3rd vacc. We hope she can be a well trained dog like Kona :)

Kathy said...

It looks like you really have some beautiful trails for your hikes, that is so lucky. The class sounds great, Kona going up to the lone man sounds like a marvelous thing, I can not wait to hear how the actual test goes! How ever it goes it sounds like Kona has made some excellent progress so how could it be anything but a win-win situation, and CONGRATS for completing the class

Life With Dogs said...

That last picture stopped me in my tracks. Frameworthy.

Glad to hear of your progress as well...