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A guest post from Jenny

Today is a "guest appearance" in the blog, with a post by Jenny.

Jenny and Star recently passed their Kennel Club Good Citizen bronze award. I was anxious that Star would be a naughty pupil as she has her own ideas about how things should be done, and can be insistent at times. She is certainly not the push over that Buddy is! So I was very pleasantly surprised when Star was so obviously focused on Jenny, and trotted along happily beside her, head tilted back, eyes on her "mom" waiting for the next command. I was and am very proud of both of them. Here is her account of their experiences:

Bronze Good Citizen Award

My dog, star, and I have started going to training classes. We are working through the kennel club good citizen dog scheme. I wanted to go to training classes because my Mum goes with her dog, Buddy. She passed all of the tests and goes to advanced training. If I pass, we can both go. In spring next year, we are hoping to get a Great Swiss Mountain Dog puppy. We want Buddy and Star to be well trained so that it will be easier to train it. I am home educated and it would be good to have the certificates in my portfolio.

For the bronze award there are quite a few things you have to do. The dog doesn't have to be kennel club registered so any dog can do it. The first tasks are simple, you have to carry poo bags or a poop scoop with you and the dog has to have a collar with an identification tag. Then you have to prove that you know how put on and take off the dog's lead and collar correctly.

The next exercises were harder, but Star was quite good at them. We had to walk with our dogs on the lead without pulling, first without then with distractions, but it was easier with Star because she is small and can't pull much. Then you had to make your dog wait by a gate or door, go through and then call your dog. This was new to Star as she is normally racing ahead to see what's going on, but she soon got the hang of it. When we practiced the stay it was quite funny as Star wouldn't stop whining because she was bored.

We also had to put our dogs into a stay, in a sit stand or down, and walk away but still be in sight. At first she kept getting up but in the end she just got bored and lay down. I think Star's best exercise was the recall. You have to make your dog wait, walk away, and then call them to you without toys or treats. Star bounded across the room with her ears flying back, which made her look so sweet.

The rest of the tasks were about making sure that you can handle your dog properly. You had to prove you know what equipment you needed to groom your dog and show you can groom the dog without any trouble. After that you had to demonstrate that you know how to and that you can examine the dog. Star doesn't mind being groomed and is quite happy to be examined.

The last test was to show that you knew about your dog's needs. You had to answer questions, such as what do dogs need and what are signs of illnesses. You had to give at least three out of six correct answers to pass. I was a bit nervous about this bit, but when I looked at what you needed to know, it was stuff that any dog owner should already know anyway, so it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be.

At the classes there were four other dogs, but sometimes Mum and Buddy joined in as well. There was a white Boxer that had just been adopted from the RSPCA, and he wasn't good with other dogs. He kept whining and wagging his tail, and it was clear he wanted to play. By the end of the bronze course he was much better. There was a black Labradoodle who was quite good at the training, a Whippet who looked really cute and a Jack Russell Terrier who was very funny.

I was very surprised at Star when we first started, because she was so focused on me. I didn't realise how good she was until then. She didn't get distracted by the other dogs, except when another Bichon Frise came in. She jumped up and kept doing play bows. We let them both off the lead and they kept running round.

She did well in the watch me exercise, where we all had to stand in a line and tell our dogs to watch us. Then one of us would weave in between the rest. Star was good at this and I didn't need to use treats.

I found the recall hard when we had to call our dogs and then get them to heel without putting them on the lead. Star would just bounce along, not heeling properly, but she got better at it. We did an exercise where we had to walk, with our dogs, around a plate of dog biscuits but our dogs couldn't eat them. This one was easy for me because Star wasn't very interested in them, but the Jack Russell Terrier loved them. He pulled ahead when they walked towards them, and as they walked away from them, he dug his heels into the floor, and his owner had to gently drag him away.

Star doesn't like some treats, so I had to find some that she did like. We did a fun exercise where there were some cones and under one of them was a biscuit. When I told Star to find it, she just looked at me, confused. I guided her to the biscuit, and she looked at it, as if to say, “It's a dog treat, what do you want me to do with it?” After that I used my own treats, but she still didn't seem to understand what to do.

When it was time for the test, the local dog warden came to assess us all. I was nervous before because I didn't know what it would be like. When we started I relaxed because it was just like the normal training session. Star did everything I told her to, and we passed. I am really pleased with Star, she was great.

I really enjoyed going to the classes, and I am going to silver classes now. The training experience you gain is very useful, and you use it in everyday situations. It's good for placing your dog in the pack, and training is a great way to bond with your dog. I think if everyone with a dog took their bronze test, it would make owning a dog much easier, for other dog owners, and non-dog owners.


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