Google Headquarters Dogs Pass CGC Test

google-tom & reena

CGC Evaluator Reena Walton and Tom Maufer with Chester.

They’re smart. They’re hip. They’re cutting edge. All of these descriptors apply to both the employees of Google and their dogs who recently passed the Canine Good Citizen test.

At Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, employees may bring their dogs to work two days per week.

With Googler Tom Maufer and his dog, Chester, being the first team to pass the CGC test, CGC Evaluator Reena S. Walton tested 8 dogs and handlers.

AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test, a standard for dogs everywhere. You can google that.


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Resource Guarding Revisited

As a follow-up to last week’s blog on resource guarding, Charlotte Mallion presents her approach to dealing with this problem.

By Charlotte Mallion, Guest Author                                                                                            See Spot Sit Dog Training and Behavior Modification-Arkansas

Here is how I handle resource guarding.

dog with treatMake a list of the items (or people) your dog guards.

“The Motivator.” Figure out what motivates your dog to comply. This can be a ball, a toy or a really yummy treat. (Boiled chicken can get a dog to give up most anything.)

Ask yourself some hard questions about your own behavior. Do I pet my dog every time it comes up to me? Does my dog nudge my hand for petting? Does my dog shove a toy into my hand or against me to tell me “play with me right now!”? Do I feed my dog if he goes and picks up his food bowl and drops it or brings it to me? Do I give my dog a treat if he whines at the treat cabinet? If you answered yes to any of those questions, stop that!

Initiate the Premack Principle or “Grandma’s Rule.” This is commonly referred to as the Nothing in Life is Free “NILIF” protocol. In other words, no petting, no food, no play, no going for a walk, no going outside, unless they have “earned” it. Now, this is simple. They don’t have to jump through burning hoops or take out the trash. A simple, sit-wait or sit-stay, or using whatever “request” you have taught them to go outside will suffice. Working for what they need to survive is natural to a dog and makes sense to them.

Teaching the Cue “Give” or “Drop.” In this section I will be describing a “trade off” method. Start with objects that your dog does not consider “high value.” This sets the dog up for success. You must work your way up to the items that are guarded more intensely. You can entice your dog with a treat or another toy to drop the item. (The Motivator.) The second the dog drops the item, pick it up first, and then deliver the motivator and praise lavishly and calmly. Return to your dog the prized item you have asked him to relinquish immediately after he has given it up happily, or finished chewing his treat if that is what you are using.

Repeat this process until you are certain that the dog knows the cue “give” or “drop” and is doing it reliably every, single time, with no protestation. This teaches the dog that giving you the resource is a good thing and often means something even better is coming their way.

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Preventing Resource Guarding: The Protective Puppy

If you notice that your puppy is beginning to protect her toys, bed, balls, food, and other prized worldly possessions, she is starting to do what animal behaviorists call “resource guarding.”   As with many behavior problems, the best solution for resource guarding is prevention and doing early training to keep the behavior from happening in the first place. If not stopped early, the protecting of possessions can escalate and you may find yourself with a puppy on your hands who is willing to snap or bite rather than give up a treat or her stuffed animal.

dv1909019Since resource guarding is a problem that is often accidentally shaped over time, watch for any signs that your puppy is being over protective of her possessions. Plan activities throughout the day that give you a chance to handle your pup’s toys, dishes and bed. If the puppy ever objects by growling, do not give in. This starts you down the dangerous slippery slope of having a puppy who will growl, then snap, then bite to protect her possessions.

Some exercises you can do with your puppy to avoid having a resource guarder are:

1. Develop your mindset. Start by understanding that basically, you are the human and everything in the house, yard and car belongs to you. It is all on loan to your precious puppy.

2. Life is about give and take. During puppy playtime, occasionally ask your puppy to, “Give.” Take the toy away for a few seconds. Then give it back and praise the puppy. When you are teaching this skill, you can exchange one chew toy for another, or exchange a toy for a treat. In the beginning, as soon as the puppy releases the item and “gives” as you say the word, give the puppy a treat.

3. Don’t let food become an issue. With a puppy, you can start early by handling the food dish and adding something to it so that your puppy learns good things come from you. If you’ve adopted a shelter or rescue puppy, know that prior to being rescued, these dogs may have been in a situation where they had to guard their food if they wanted to eat. You might need a behavior plan to address food guarding.

4. Compliance training on basic good manners skills will help you address your pup’s problems with possessiveness.  Sit and down as well as sit-stay and down-stay are all behaviors that can be used to manage your dog while your work on possessiveness issues.

From AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy: A Positive Behavioral Approach to Puppy Training (

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Training Tips From the 1950′s

Just when I thought I was tired of Facebook, during the holidays a few months ago, Facebook gave me a great reinforcer.

LassieTrick1-1Through the miracle of the internet and social media, I found a friend who lived next door to me when we were 5-years old. Around Christmas time, I wrote to her and told her that even though my family had moved to another state, I always remembered her. And I told her that I remembered her dad, Mr. Raia. He was a kind, wonderful man. Even though he had his own children, he always made sure he gave me a Christmas gift when I was a child.

“You won’t believe this,” I wrote to my friend, “but I still have the present your dad gave me when we were 5 years old.”  Back then, at the ripe old age of five, we had a family dog, but I certainly had no well-formed plans for a dog-related career. Maybe Mr. Raia’s gift was a premonition.

LassieRempel1 copyMr. Raia gave me a dog training kit in a box, complete with tiny agility equipment that was to be used for training a 6-inch tall plastic Lassie. Over the years, a myriad of toys and dolls came and went, but for some reason, I always kept this gift.

After I located my childhood friend, I went to the closet, pulled the toy from the box where it had been stored for decades, and for the first time ever, looked at this toy through the eyes of a dog trainer and animal behaviorist.

LassieTrick2In the box is a booklet on how to train your dog. It was written in the 1950’s by Rudd Weatherwax, Lassie’s trainer. Because positive reinforcement training didn’t become popular until many years later, I expected a heavy dose of advice about the need for corrections in training.  While there were certainly trainers at that time giving out correction based advice, here are 10 tips from Rudd Weatherwax (circa the 1950’s) that may surprise you. Tip #6 shows evidence of food rewards in training.

1. Train on a regular schedule.

2. Keep training sessions short-not over 15 minutes.

3. Have one person teach the dog initially; gradually involve other family members.

4. Work in quiet, non-distracting surroundings.

5. Be consistent (same tone, etc.) when giving the dog commands (such as, “Sit.”)

6. Encourage your dog when he performs correctly by petting him, speaking in a friendly tone, and rewarding him with a tidbit.

7. Don’t rush training, have patience.

8. Teach one trick or skill at a time. As you teach new ones, review what the dog has already learned.

9. If your dog is not feeling well or is out of sorts, give him a vacation from training.

10. Never shout at or strike your dog. Your patience, understanding and kindness will be rewarded.

By the way, I called and spoke to 93-year old Mr. Raia on the phone. He was delighted that I still had his gift, and we ended the call with him saying he may have had an influence on my career.  Maybe so, Mr. Raia, maybe so.

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Service Dogs & CGC: The Importance of Respecting the Rights of Disabled People

By Guest Author, Barbara Handelman, M.Ed., CDBC

Passing the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test is a worthy goal and a significant accomplishment for pet owners.  Well-socialized dogs with basic obedience training are more apt to live out their lives in loving homes, and are less likely to be rehomed or surrendered to shelters.

Guide dogPassing the CGC test does not give dogs the right to go into places of public accommodation (restaurants, public transportation, stores, hospitals, etc.) where pets are not allowed. Having an AKC (American Kennel Club) Canine Good Citizen Title does not qualify a pet to be a service dog.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service dog as a dog that has been “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities”.  In the “The ADA Glossary of Terms” ( disability is defined as: a condition that causes “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities” of a disabled person. To be a service dog, the animal must perform skills or assist with tasks that mitigate some aspect of the person’s disability. A complete guide to federal regulations applying to service dogs can be found at: http://www.

It is imperative to understand that the ADA only grants rights to disabled people, not to dogs. The law addresses the rights of disabled people who might be blind, deaf/hard of hearing, or mobility challenged, and those who are diabetic, have seizures, a traumatic brain injury or have other disabling physical conditions. The ADA also recognizes service dogs who assist people with psychiatric diagnoses such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), autism spectrum disorders, clinical depression, and pervasive anxiety disorder, among others.

A person who pretends to be disabled or represents her pet dog as a service dog flouts the law. Many of us would like to have our pets with us as much as possible.  The vast majority of pet owners find the presence of their beloved pet to be soothing. Yet, dogs whose sole purpose is to provide emotional support are not service dogs as defined by the ADA regulations. They lack the task based specialized training the law requires. Taking pets into off-limits places of public accommodation jeopardizes the rights of disabled people who actually need the help of a fully trained service dog.

How do dogs become service dogs? Becoming a service dog is an on-going and highly selective process. Approximately fifty percent of all dogs bred, socialized, selected and trained by owners or agencies to become service dogs either fail to complete training or must retire after a short career. Physical and behavioral reactions to cumulative stress are the most common reasons why dogs fail to become service dogs or must retire prematurely. Minimum standards of training and behavior expected of a service dog can be found at:

Selecting an appropriate candidate for service dog training is the single most important element of preparing a dog for a working career. Temperament evaluations are essential but offer no guarantees. They help weed out the obviously inappropriate candidates.  Some dogs only demonstrate their unsuitability later in the process after much time, money and love has been invested in their apparent promise. For more information about Temperament Evaluations for Working Dog Candidates go to:

Training for a service dog is highly specialized. Dogs must learn myriad skills to meet the specific needs of people with a wide range of disabilities. Training a service dog generally takes a minimum of two years. The average cost of breeding, raising and training a service dog is $20,000 to $30,000.  Such rigorous preparations go far beyond the requirements for a CGC test.

The majority of dogs are not cut out to be service dogs. Yet, some people have decided to pretend that their pets are qualified service animals. The actions of these imposters benefit no one.  Hopefully this article will help educate dog lovers – perhaps knowing what it takes to become a service dog will stop some people from turning themselves and their dogs into imposters.

Why are imposter dogs a problem? A rising tide of imposters is making the lives of disabled people more difficult.  There are no statistics about how many imposter dogs are out in public.  CGC and pet dog trainers frequently get asked: “Where can I get a vest so I can take my pet everywhere with me?” Putting service dog identification on a pet dog does not make it a service dog – it makes the dog an imposter.  Posing as a disabled person for the purpose of representing a pet as a service dog eligible for public access is unethical. In sixteen states it is even illegal. For more information about state laws pertaining to service dogs go to:

Shop owners, restaurant staff, bus drivers, hospital personnel, etc. are allowed – according to the ADA regulations – to stop a person accompanied by a dog purported to be a service dog.   They may ask what specific tasks the service dog has been trained to do to respond to the handler’s disability.  These provisions were part of the restrictive revisions to the ADA regulations published in 2010.

Many imposters continue to take advantage of laws designed to protect the rights of people with disabilities. Where imposter dogs are brought into places pet dogs are not allowed, they increase the likelihood that disabled individuals will be questioned.

People with invisible disabilities (for example veterans and non veterans with traumatic brain injury or PTSD) are especially vulnerable. They are most likely to be questioned about their service dogs. They may even have their symptoms triggered or worsened by such questioning. The questioning can also cause un-due attention and humiliation.

Not only do imposters with their pet dogs increase suspicion from businesses, but also pet dogs are less likely to behave well in public.  Unruly dogs, even those whose handlers are disabled – may be asked to leave a place of public accommodation.  A dog causing a disturbance such as barking, relieving himself, threatening staff or patrons, or disrupting the flow of business should be asked to leave.

Pet dogs who bark at service dogs, charge toward them, or worst – attack them – may cause a disabled person with a service dog to fall, feel personally threatened, or need to protect her service dog – possibly incurring injury to herself or her dog in the melee. As a result of an attack, a service dog may become too fearful to continue working and have to be retired.

Canine Good Citizen training might prepare pets for higher levels of accomplishment. Nevertheless, CGC training alone does not qualify a dog to assist a person with a disability.

Whatever their intentions, people who wish to take their pets into places of public accommodation under the guise of service dog status must consider the legal and social consequences. Hopefully they will choose instead to respect the rights of people with disabilities.

Note: A complete guide to laws applying to service dogs can be found at:

In 2006 Barbara Handelman published the four DVD series “Clicker Train Your Own Assistance Dog”. The set introduces methods for training many of the complex tasks an assistance dog needs to perform to help a disabled person function both at home and in the world at large. The terms Assistance Dog and Service dog are interchangeable in common parlance. Legal language only refers to these working dogs as Service Dogs. 

Today, Barbara’s clicker training energies are divided between her horse EZ and her service dog, Nate.

Check out Barbara’s website at where you will find free resources for clicker training service dogs.  There are many resources including a video journal of the first two-years of training with her service dog, Pan.  On the website you will also find the complete video on “Selecting Candidates for Working Dog Careers”.

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AKC Community Canine: Most Common Problems in the Community

AKC Community Canine is the new advanced level of the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program. Dogs who pass the AKC Community Canine test can earn the “CGCA” title.

AKC Community Canine LOGO copyWhen it came time to develop the CGCA test, we wanted a test that was empirically validated.  We conducted observations of 100 dogs (and their owners) in community settings.  We took data and had inter-observer reliability observations.

We found out that one of the most common problems was that dogs pull or lunge on the leash to go to other dogs.

Here are 3 Tips for Handling Pulling Toward Another Dog

1.  Teach alternative behaviors to pulling and lunging (DRI).

If your dog is pulling to go and see other dogs when out walking, teach the dog some basic obedience skills including sit and heel on leash. (However, the dog does not have to be in a competition heel position; the idea is he will walk close to you when given the cue, “Heel.”)

DRI, differential reinforcement of incompatible behaviors, means reinforcing a behavior that is incompatible with the one you are trying to eliminate.

2. Implement Systematic Desensitization Procedure

Systematic desensitization involves using a hierarchy from the least to the most problematic situation. For pulling on a leash, you could start with your dog 50-ft. away from another dog at the park. If the dog can do that without pulling, move to 20-ft., then 10-ft. and so on.

Details on how to do this are in CITIZEN CANINE, the official book of the Canine Good Citizen program.  To order:

 3. Only move toward the other dog when your dog is behaving.

This is a different technique than systematic desensitization. If your dog pulls toward the other dog, turn around and go in the opposite direction, away from the other dog. When your dog is calm, turn and approach the other dog again. You may have to do this several times.

For more information on AKC Community Canine, see:

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“Stop Barking! I’m on the Phone!”

I can think of at least three friends or relatives whose dogs bark when they are talking on the phone.  The conversation usually goes like this…”And then she said…BRUNO!!!  STOP BARKING!…anyway, she said she would be coming to the party…BRUNO! QUIT IT!…and she will be bringing… BRUNO!!!!!!”   And on and on it goes.

dog barks talking on phoneThe main reason that dogs bark when we are on the phone is that the behavior is attention maintained.  Barking is one way for a dog to say, “Pay attention to me.” Your canine companion can hold you hostage if you are so embarrassed by the noise that as you talk, you scurry around the house with the portable phone trying to find something, anything, that will put an end to the barking so you can have a peaceful conversation.

You find yourself thinking, “Here, have a dog biscuit and be quiet,” as you grimace at the dog and shove his preferred treat toward him.  Or, “Come on!” you mouth silently with a scowl on your face and snapping your fingers, indicating that the dog should come to the door NOW to go outside. And throughout the call, you hope that your caller isn’t hearing all of the ridiculous manipulative shenanigans that your precious pup is pulling right now.

The bad news is if you give in and try to stop the barking with a reward such as a treat or activity the dog enjoys, you may stop the racket briefly, but you’ve just strengthened the behavior and you’re on your way to having a dog who barks every time you talk on the phone.

So what do you do? Here are a few alternatives:

1. Teach the dog an incompatible behavior such as,  “Go to your place.” If the dog is in a down stay or in his crate where he is usually quiet, he is less likely to bark.

2.  Reward quiet behavior. Be ready with some treats before you start talking on the phone. Periodically give the dog a treat if she is quiet.

3. Consider pairing talking on the phone with an activity that the dog enjoys. If the weather is beautiful, it might be nice to sit on the back porch to have your weekly  hour-long phone visit with Aunt Sue. The dog can enjoy the back yard and sunshine. However, the dog should not be calling the shots and forcing you to go outside once the call has started.

4.  Set up extinction training sessions.  For a behavior such as barking, extinction (ignoring the behavior) is an appropriate way to handle the problem. But it is hard to ignore a barking dog when you are trying to have a phone conversation. Consider staging a phone call to train your dog. You can call yourself from a second phone to make the phone ring. The dog doesn’t know no one is talking on the other end. Then have a conversation with yourself, using the same tones and demeanor you use when you talk on the phone.  Observe to see how early in the chain that your dog starts to bark. Is the ringing phone the stimulus that causes the problem? Does the barking start a few minutes into the conversation?  Ignore the dog until he is quiet and then reward him with a treat.

Citizen Canine readers, do you have any tips for dogs who bark during your phone conversations?

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