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So I saw crazy's thread about CGC and looked it up. We don't have it here at our kennel club but I love the goal of the program and I'd love to certify my dogs if I could.

I watched the videos on the tests and have no doubt Simba could pass them all with flying colors.

Leia not so much. The problem would be sitting politely for petting and appearance and grooming probably. The second just because it'd be a complete stranger doing the grooming, with her vet and actual groomer she does fine.

The first is a bit of a real life problem we're having. I've tried from day one to socialize her heavily to strangers petting her, always praising and simultaneously petting her myself. In the last month though we've had a bit of a problem. She'll accept the petting until she won't. Everyone wants to pet her (because she's amazingly cute of course:cool:) until she bites them. Or at least tries to, after the first few times (which shocked me) I was on to the act and have mostly managed to prevent it.

It's always the same story. I'm sitting somewhere, someone asks to pet her (rarely) or (most of the time) comes up and pets her. I praise her and am petting her as well. She will not duck the hand, lick her lips or yawn or even stiffen her body. In fact she will generally stay in the same position she was in before they came over.

She will look into their eyes with her eyes wide open and will not react to the touching of her jowls or ears or the cutesy talk. Which by the way is pretty normal for her, when I pet her (or groom her) she doesn't show much reaction either. Pretty much a textbook example of stoic behavior. After about a 30 seconds to a minute of touching she clearly decides that this person has worn out their welcome and without a change, or at least one noticeable to me, in behavior from the "friendly stranger" she jumps vertically off her hind legs and bites (or attempts to) their face.

Beyond being pretty sure that that would correspond to a failure on the CGC test, it's not exactly something I'm thrilled about to put it mildly.

I'm fully aware that there is a genetic component at work here and I knew what I was getting into when we bought her, but I'm also a big believer in the power of training and I'm a long way from just resigning myself. The behavior is in essence the correct one but the situation is the wrong one.

The main head scratcher for me is that I can't identify the trigger. This is somewhat new, like I said the first incident was about 3 wks ago, she always accepted petting from strangers in the same way she does now, somewhat indifferently. She doesn't have any problem when the people approach nor when they start to touch her. In all of the incidents she's never once vocalized before the bite and she never bites the hand that's touching her, she always jumps and tries for the face/neck or highest point on the chest she can reach. Which is actually how I've been able to control her so far, while petting her myself (my attempt at CCing) I'm also hugging her and can keep her from jumping.

As far as her family (Myself, my girlfriend, her son, and our housekeeper) she has not bitten one of us, not even the normal puppy mouthing. On the street she doesn't pull on her leash and off leash she will just ignore strangers.

The one other thing that keeps nagging at me but I'm not sure if I'm just imagining it. Which is the first couple of times it happened and I wasn't able to prevent it I'm pretty sure (although not positive) that when she was up and on her hind legs that her tail was wagging. Which is something I've seen in ring dogs but that is a prey drive hyped to 11 and she has an almost non existent prey drive and I've NEVER encouraged any of that type of behavior. I'm not sure if a "guard drive" could produce that kind of excitement but if it could, would counter conditioning still be the answer...
 

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Is there any chance that we could get a video of it?

Also, is there any rescues or organizations that host "practice" in your area?

I had the pleasure of being a volunteer at a CGC practice evaluation for a bully rescue back in the summer and generally they are not going to pet your dog for super long. 30 seconds is a long time to be standing there, petting. That said, by the time they have done the body handling and grooming tests, she may have had enough.

What I did notice repeatedly is that dogs who were getting uncomfortable while in the sit would always stand up before they started to show other calming signals like whale eye and panting. Its also hard for a dog to vocalize in a sit. They are much freer to move while standing up.

What I would do going forward is:

a) Practice with strangers. There's a huge difference to a dog between "owner touching my head" and "stranger who walked up 2 seconds ago touching my head".
b) Let her stand while you practice. The sit can be added in at a later point when the springing up has been taken care of. She will probably feel a bit more at ease in a stand, at least until she really looks forward to being pet.
c) Counter-condition with actual food. Praise, petting and toys are all great, but food evokes a very swift and reliable release of dopamine in the brain. You need to get those feel-good juices flowing in order for the classical conditioning to take effect. You can do stuff like petting, but the fact this hasn't changed her underlying feelings points to the possibility that petting may not be rewarding to her in this specific situations: she may feel a bit cornered with 2 people within petting proximity of her, or she may not be able to distinguish whose hands are whose.


Its equally important that the positive reinforcement comes with the pets and goes with the pets, i.e., person touches her and you start the fountain of treats. Person takes their hand off, treats go away. They put their hand back on her, treat stream starts again. The hand goes away, treat stream stops. This makes the distinction very clear in the dog's mind that the two things (the petting and the reward) go hand in hand and that you can't have one without the other.

Good luck and remember not to sweat it. If worst comes to worst and you don't pass the evaluation the first time, then at least you will know exactly what to expect the second go-round. It might even be an idea to take Simba through the evaluation first, so that you can see firsthand what challenges Leia will face.
 

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@kelly528 I might be able to get a video next weekend, I need to find a willing volunteer who is a complete stranger to her. We also have our first puppy class this week so maybe we can get some help there. At the very least it will be lots of new people and pets.

The issue with CCing with treats is that she won't eat treats if we're on walks unless we've been sitting in one place for a while and she will not eat them if other people are around. She'll take them if I keep the treat next to her mouth for a few seconds but will then just drop it on the ground.
 

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Sounds like she does have a lot of nerves. I find this to usually be the case with dogs that take treats in some cases but not others. Dollars to donuts she will go to puppy class and come out the other side seeing every stranger as "friendly person with food and pets". I think that will be an immense boost for her confidence with greeting. :)
 
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