On a whim I entered Maia for the trial to become a Canine Good Neighbour (similar to the American Canine Good Citizen). I was already at the trial with one of my friends and Maia was behaving beautifully. This in and of itself was amazing, as I have been working on her human reactivity since getting her at 7 months of age. She’s now almost two. My friend convinced me to enter Maia as they had some time left at the end. We figured if she failed, so what? I already know what her triggers are and I thought I knew which parts she would have trouble with, so why not just give it a go?
She passed with flying colours! She greeted the woman who was the tester and let her pat her and brush her on her sides and neck. Because of our agility training she pays brilliant attention to me when we are ‘working’ so I used the same voice and body language as I do in agility classes. We had to stop at a gate, then I went through first and called Maia. I had to get her amped up with praise and attention and then bring her back under control. I had to walk around and do abrupt turns and 180s and have her follow me. No problems with any of that.
I thought she would have issues with walking through the crowd of people, where there was a wheelchair being pushed, an umbrella being opened and closed, and various other strange sounds and sights but she was totally focused on me. I also thought she would not be able to deal with the three minutes where I had to leave her with a stranger and go out of sight, but my friend told me that after watching where I had disappeared for about a minute, she gave a huge sigh and then nestled herself against the legs of the woman holding her.
Seriously, it was a bit like – is this my dog??? She performed so well and it has made me so incredibly optimistic that this is possible to achieve as an ongoing way of behaviour. I don’t expect her to be perfect from now on, or want to rush up to children to get patted or anything unrealistic like that, but now I know that she has it in her to be surrounded by strangers and to be calm, and to trust me.
I am so proud of her I could burst.