Test Item 7: Coming When Called
This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10-feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog. The handler may use encouragement to get the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell their dogs to 'stay' or 'wait' or they may have the evaluator hold/distract their dogs while they walk away. Dogs do not have to demonstrate stay for this exercise.
Here is Baron demonstrating what will be required at the test.
So Your Goal: To get your dog to come when called with mild distractions present.
A recall is one of the most important skills your dog can learn. Seriously, it could save his life. So let's get started :). Teaching your dog to come in obedience class is not terribly difficult - there are minimal distractions. Most dogs will eagerly run toward their owner when given encouragement and treats. The CGC test is the same, there are minimal distractions present, basically just the other dogs taking the test and your dog will not be recalling towards them. Make sure when you call your dog that you use every ounce of enthusiasm that you can muster. Coming to you should be the best experience ever :).
As your dog understands the recall, you'll want to start practicing this in different situations. You can do it outside (just make sure it's in a fenced in area or you have your dog on a long line), or in a different training facility. Don't forget to pay heavily (treats) when your dog reaches you. Treats will keep your dog coming back for more and that's the attitude you'll want for real life situations.
Throughout life, this is a skill you'll need to practice pretty much forever. I recommend making up fun recall games to keep it entertaining and exciting for your dog and make sure you understand what your dog's motivators are, as well as the distractions that are likely to be difficult for him. Those are the areas you'll have to put the most training effort into. Remember to practice frequently :).
Also NEVER, EVER, EVER scold your dog when he doesn't come to you or call your dog to you in order to do something they do not like (for example, doing toenails, getting a bath, going to the vet, etc.). That will completely defeat your purpose.
Next week we'll discuss CGC Test Item 8, Reaction to Another Dog.
Don't forget to check out the other CGC test items we've covered: