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Stage Two - Handling Ability

Part 1 Test of Candidates Handling Skills & Ability

Before taking the Companion Canine Club Stage Two and Three Tests, owners will be required to complete and sign the Owners Commitment to Responsible Dog Ownership and have passed the theory Stage One test.

We believe that responsible dog ownership is a key part of the Companion Canine Club concept and by signing the pledge, owners agree to take care of their dog’s health needs, safety, exercise, training and quality of life. Owners also agree to show responsibility by doing things such as cleaning up after their dogs in public places and never letting dogs infringe on the rights of others.

After signing the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge, owners and their dogs are ready to take the Companion Canine Club Tests.

The practical handling skills and ability test will consist of two types of assessment:

Part One – Set of 15 Handling Exercises

The assessor will explain to you what is require with regards to each certain exercise and may gain the assistance of a steward to command you through the exercise.

Explanation of exercises is below.

 Part Two will be a pre set heel work exercise.

This will be in the format of a pre-set test, whereby the examiner has set up a pre-set test using the Pre -set Station exercises, the course of signed stations dictates what exercise the assessor requires the dog and handler team to perform. The assessor will set a course of no more than 15 exercise stations; therefore, it is advisable for candidates to familiarise themselves with all stations in order to be successful.


Exercise 1

Temperament and response test

The purpose of this exercise is to assess the dog’s response to its handler as well as demonstrates the dog’s temperament in that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The assessor walks up to the dog and handler and greets the handler in a friendly manner, ignoring the dog.

The handler and dog will be invited into the testing room/hall, whereby the assessor will briskly approach face to face towards the handler in a manner to welcome them. On doing so the assessor will be watching the dog’s overall reaction, whilst carrying out this exercise the assessor will shake hands and exchange pleasantries with the handler, totally ignoring the dog.

The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness.

Should the dog react in a stressful, aggressive, or an uncontrollable excited manner, the Assessor has the right to stop the test at that point to avoid causing further stress to the dog and handler.

The Assessor will then instruct the handler to walk the dog around the test room/hall in a very casual manner, holding very lightly onto the end of the lead. As the dog starts to pay no attention to the handler, the Assessor will instruct the handler to call the dog into them.

This exercise will then be repeated with the dog allowed off lead and allowed to roam free, the handler will then be instructed to give a verbal/physical command to call the dog back to them and then re attach the lead.

The Assessor, (with the help of two assistants) will then instruct the handler to walk the dog around the test room on a loose lead, the Assessor will follow behind the handler and dog team, one assistant will walk towards the team and pass the handler on the handler’s right-hand side. Whilst another assistant walks close enough but a safe distance at the side of the dog on the dog’s left-hand side, throughout this exercise there should be a change of direction and the Assessor and assistants should not interfere with the dog in any way throughout the exercise.

 

Exercise 2

Reaction to another dog/s

This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler. There will also be another dog playing with its handler only feet away, the handler of this dog will be using exciting motivational tones whilst playing with their dog.

Should the dog react in a stressful, aggressive, or an uncontrollable excited manner, the Assessor has the right to stop the test at that point to avoid causing further problems to the dogs and handlers.

Exercise 3

Collar Touch Acceptance

This exercise is to demonstrate that the dog has no concerns with the handler having to take a gentle contact around its collar. This could be to attach the dogs lead, to assist hold and support the dog whilst performing exercise 3 below and well as to cause minimal stress to the dog whilst being handled around its collar by a stranger in their line of duty for example a dog warden, or member of the public, should your go by accident go astray or by a veterinary surgeon during their examination of your dog.

For this exercise the handler will demonstrate that the can place a finger between the collar and the dogs neck and gently manipulate the collar on both the left and right-hand side of the dog’s neck, on top of the dog’s neck and around the dog’s throat area and whilst doing so gentle move the collar to the left and right for a short distance as if searching for the lead ring attachment.

During this exercise the dog should remain calm and relaxed and show no signs of worry. Any pulling away, shying from the handler’s hand, lip curling or growling types of behaviour or uncontrollable jumping and leaping around would deem this exercise incomplete and would therefore forfeit the remainder of the test.

Exercise 4

Grooming & Appearance

This exercise demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed. examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so. It also demonstrates the owner’s care, concern and sense of responsibility. The assessor will inspect the dog to determine if it is clean and groomed. 

The dog must appear to be in healthy condition (i.e., proper weight, clean, healthy and alert). The handler should supply the comb or brush commonly used on the dog. 

The assessor then softly brushes the dog in a natural manner, lightly examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. It is not necessary for the dog to hold a specific position during the examination, and the handler may talk to the dog, praise it and give encouragement throughout.”

Should the Assessor notice any sign that the dog is becoming unnecessarily unsettled or unhappy with the exercise then they will terminate the exercise in a safe manner in order not to cause further discomfort or stress to the dog and then in having done so will render the remainder of the exercise unsuitable due to temperament.

Professional Groomer’s regularly remark that they can’t overstate how wonderful it is to have a dog come in for his or her grooming appointment and find that they have been well-prepared by their owner to tolerate the process.

Veterinary staff members also enjoy their job much more when the dog they are examining is tolerant of the handling associated with a health check-up.

No one likes to bring their pet into a situation that obviously makes them feel insecure, frightened, or upset. By spending the time beforehand to socialize your dog to the handling they’ll experience, the entire process—from ear cleaning to brushing to nail trimming—can become one that your dog looks forward to.

Exercise 5

Sit & Down on Command

This test demonstrates that the dog has training and understanding of the handlers cues/commands and therefore will respond to the handler’s commands to sit and down and will remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers).

The dog must do sit AND down on command, then the owner chooses the position for leaving the dog in the stay. The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to get the dog to sit and then down.

The assessor  must determine if the dog has responded to the handler’s commands and acted on them or whether additional commands had to be given for the dog to perform the behaviour. The handler may not force the dog into position or touch the dog to offer gentle guidance.

When instructed by the Assessor, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward to the Assessors side, turns and returns to the dog at a natural pace. The dog must remain in the place in which it was left (it may adjust its position) until the Assessor instructs the handler to release the dog.

The dog may be released from the front or the side.

Exercise 6

Sit and down on the move on lead in a heel-work pattern

During this exercise the dog will be worked on either the handlers left hand side to start and on the Assessor command will change to work the dog on their right-hand side.

The reasoning behind the change of side during this exercise is because in normal everyday situation it may not be always possible to have the dog on your left-hand side, therefore it is always a good training practice to train to work equally as well on both sides. This also helps keep a dog balanced muscularly on both sides.

This test demonstrates that the dog has training and understanding of the handlers cues/commands and therefore will respond to the handler’s commands to sit and down and will remain in the position until commanded back into heel-work by the handler.

The Assessor will inform the handler of which position to give and when.

Exercise 7

Loose Lead Heelwork and off lead heelwork

The exercise will start with heel work on lead.

All tight leads and dog being in front of the handler’s leg by more than the dog’s shoulder or lagging behind the handler will all be marked by the Assessor accordingly.

To obtain a high grade marking please see on the Stage 2 Part 2 page, that sows a diagram which demonstrates an ideal heel work position.

The dog’s position should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to the handler’s movements and changes of direction. The dog need not be perfectly aligned with the handler as in competition heel work, but must be in a close and comfortable position at the side of the handlers left leg.

The assessor may use a pre-set course. Pre-set courses are designed to make  use the heel work signs as displayed in the heel work test book and are to consist of 15 exercises.

This exercise is not to be assessed as in competitive obedience handling.

The handler may talk to the dog along the way, praise the dog, or give commands in a normal tone of voice.

Working in front of the handler of lagging behind the handler will be assessed as “Needs Practice”, working in front of the handler can cause problems should the dog move directly in front of the handler then it may cause the handler to trip or fall. On the other hand, trailing behind the handler demonstrates a lack of training, understanding or may include fear or stress issues which would need to be carefully addressed.

This exercise may be performed inside or outside.

The dog will perform this exercise working on the left or right-hand side, as desired by the handler, this may be changed at any time throughout the exercise at the Assessor’s request.

Exercises to be performed:

  • Left & Right-hand turns
  • Right and Left about turns
  • Halts and move offs
  • figure of eight around two people
  • Variation of paces from halt and whilst moving.
  • Perform circle exercise around dogs playing with their owners

 Heel work off lead

  • Negotiate the same course set out by the assessor as in the heel work on lead
  • The dog’s position should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to the handler’s movements and changes of direction. The dog need not be perfectly aligned with the handler.

Exercise 8

Recall back to the owner

Dogs that come back when called can be let of the lead to run and explore. As a consequence, they are often more content at home and nicer to live with. Teaching your dog to always come when called could save their life and will make your lives together much more enjoyable.

The Assessor will to choose two out of the four recall exercises to test the candidate’s skills.

a) Call Front
b) Call back to heel work position
c) Out of sight recall
d) Recall through distractions

These exercises may be performed inside or outside.

a] Call Front – This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler.

On the Assessor’s command: –

  • The handler cues the dog to sit by either their left or right-hand side (handler’s choice).
  • The handler then removes the dogs lead and cues the dog to wait.
  • The handler will walk approximately 15 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog and calls the dog.
  • The dog is called to the front of the handler and then asked to sit, down or stand whilst the handler attaches the lead.

The dog is then asked into the position it started the exercise in, by the handlers left or right-hand side.

b] Call back to heel work position – Again this exercise is designed to test that the dog will re-join the handler, whilst the handler is walking away from the dog. This is a regular occurrence when walking in woods, or the countryside and your dog is enjoying being a dog sniffing and exploring the environment.

On the Assessor command: –

  • The handler cues the dog to sit by either their left or right-hand side (handler’s choice).
  • The handler then removes the dogs lead and cues the dog to wait.
  • The handler will walk approximately 10 feet from the dog, and without turning to face the dog they simply call the dog into heel work position whilst still walking away from the dog.
  • The handler may turn their head to look towards the dog as they give the recall command and may also give arm signals.
  • The dog is expected to return promptly to the handlers left or right-hand side and maintain a heel work position until the Assessor ask the handler to halt.
  • The dog may adopt a stand, sit or down position when the handler halts.
  • The handler then promptly places the dog back on lead to complete the exercise

The handler may use encouragement to get the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell dogs to “stay” or “wait” or they may simply walk away, giving no instructions to the dog.

c] Out of sight recall – This exercise has been included to demonstrate that should a dog and handler become temporarily separated whilst on a off lead walk in the woods, park or countryside, with the dog exploring in tree and bushes possibly following the scent of a wild rabbit or squirrel, they can return promptly to the handler on the handler’s command.

On the Assessor’s command: –

  • The handler cues the dog to sit by either their left or right-hand side (handler’s choice).
  • The handler then removes the dogs lead and cues the dog to wait
  • The handler may then throw food on the floor in order to be able to distance themselves quickly from their dog.
  • Alternatively, the dog may be held by an assistant.
  • The handler then quickly exits the room and move swiftly to the allocated designation indicatored by the Assessor.
  • The handler then calls their dog to them.
  • When the dog re-joins the handler, then ask the dog to go into a sit or down in order to reattach the lead to the dog.
  • Once the lead has been attached the exercise is complete.
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d] Recall through distractions – The purpose of this exercise is to ensure that when called away from distractions the dog returns directly to the handler. An example of this may be walking through a park whereby children are playing games with foot balls etc, or people are sitting on benches eating or picnicking on picnic mats.

This exercise may be performed inside or outside. Outside being a more realistic setting.

The dog is to re-join the handler by running through a channel of distraction on both its left and right-hand sides. The distractions could be: –

  • Food bowls with food inside placed on the ground (food bowls to be protected with cling film to prevent dog taking the food).
  • People playing with dogs or standing in line with their dogs at their side.
  • Other distractions items if they are safe and not going to harm the dog in any way may be used by the host in agreement with the Assessor

On the Assessor’s command: –

  • The handler cues the dog to sit by either their left or right-hand side (handler’s choice) at one end of the channel.
  • The handler then removes the dogs lead and cues the dog to wait.
  • The handler will walk to the far end of the channel from the dog, turn to face the dog, and calls the dog.
  • The dog is called to the front of the handler and then asked to sit, down or stand whilst the handler attaches the lead.
  • The dog is then asked into the position it started the exercise in, by the handlers left or right-hand side.

If performing the exercise inside, the use of two adjacent rooms will be required. If they are not directly adjacent but have a short corridor between them this is acceptable as long as precautions are taken for the dog not to accidentally be able to exit the building.

Outside the use of natural objects such as a tree and bushes are permitted and encouraged, again the outdoor venue must be secure, and dogs should not be able to escape.

Exercise 9

Life Saver Command

Being able to stop your dog at a distance is very useful for emergencies. For example, your dog has seen something that has got their attention in the distance and decide to run and investigate, a car or child could be crossing the path between you unexpectedly and if your dog continues, he could get hit by the car or scare the child. Giving a cue that stops your dog and puts him into a sit or down controls his movement and keeps everyone safe.

This exercise should not be carried out in a recall format with the dog coming towards you, but should be carried out as in a send away where the dog is going away from you.

Remember this is a life save exercise and on this occasion you will not be penalised for having to shout the command at your dog. The Assessor will be looking for a prompt stop from the dog when the handler gives the command. The speed in which the dog is traveling prior to stopping will be taken into consideration.

The dog must run out and not walk, trot or ample away from the handler, this will be marked as “More training required”.

For the purpose of performing this exercise the use of a toy is permitted in order to send the dog away from the handler.

  On the Assessor’s command: –

  • The handler cues the dog to sit by either their left or right-hand side (handler’s choice) at one end of the channel.
  • The handler gives the wait or stay cue and walks to the other side of the channel as indicated by the Assessor.
  • On the Assessor command the handler calls the dog towards them through the channel.
  • The dog should ignore the distractions and go directly to the handler.
  • The handler asks for the sit or down and then completes the exercise by attaching the lead.

Exercise 10

Playtime with your dog

Dogs that learn to play games with their owners grow into dogs which see their owners as a source of pleasure and enjoyment. Such dogs are much more fun to have around and are more sociable. They are also easier to train because they have a better relationship with us.  They probably have a better life in a human society than those that have only learned to play with other dogs.

Teaching your dog to drop an object is useful when you want to get toys back or if they have picked up something you would rather they didn’t have.

 Whilst doing the play exercise you will be expected to demonstrate the Get it- Out – Leave it commands to show the Assessor you have control of the game and are able to take objects away from the dog with ease.

 

On the Assessor’s command: –

  • The handler starts the game with the dog inviting the dog to get the toy.
  • After a short period, the handler cues the dog to let go of the toy.
  • Once the dog has let go of the toy completely, then the handler gives the command for the dog to get the toy again.
  • This is repeated until the Assessor ask the handler to finish the game.
  • To finish the game the handler, ask for the dog to release the toy, on doing so the handler places the toy on the floor and asks the dogs to adopt either the sit or down position and leave the toy.
  • When the Assessor states the exercise is complete the handler takes the toy and places it out of sight and then releases the dog from the exercise.

Exercise 11

Time to Chill

Many dogs that are active and boisterous in the home have too much energy for their lifestyle.  Most and are not getting sufficient mental and physical exercise to feel calm, of these dogs will be descendants of working lines whose ancestors were expected to work all day every day.  Confined to a home with owners who go out to work and have limited time for dog activities, these dogs have an excess of energy that all too often gets channeled into unwanted behaviour.  Using a time to chill exercise allows these dogs time to de-stress and relax at the same time allowing their own time to gather their thoughts.

One of the best life skills to teach a dog of any age is how to settle in the house, or anywhere else you need them to.

This exercise requires the use of a crate or dog bed. The crate must not must not be of fabric material and the dog should be able to see out of all sides.

 With the dog off lead the handler will place the dog in a suitable sized crate or dog bed and get the dog to chill in a down position.

The handler will then go and sit on the chair located by the Assessor which will be approximately 6 strides away from the dog. On doing so the handler will quietly entertain themselves by reading or looking through literature left by the Assessor and should not attempt to provide eye contact with the dog they are allowed to give one extra verbal command to the dog in a normal tone of voice.

After 2 minutes the handler will be asked to go back and release the dog, which will complete this exercise.

 

Exercise 12

Demonstration of Manners around Food

This exercise has been designed to test your dog’s behaviour around food. Not just their own but that of their handlers with regards to begging, nudging the hand or arm, barking, whining or even jumping up on people, chairs or even the table.

In this exercise the Assessor will be looking at how the dog behaves around someone with food along with the level of control the handler has over their dog.

During this exercise the dog will be off lead.

The Assessor, will ask the handler to go over to the table and get themselves a drink and item of food that has been placed there by the test host.

On collecting the items, the handler will return to a chair located by the Assessor and will sit themselves down.

They will ask the dog to sit or down to one side of them. This is where the dog should remain throughout the remainder of the exercise. The handler will them open the packet of food and start to consume the contents and on doing so should let the dog see that they have got food without teasing the dog.

The dog should remain in its position throughout and should show no sign of interfering with or attempting to get the handlers attention.

The exercise will finish when the Assessor is happy with that the dog is aware of the food and their handle eating it, but has remained settled and relaxed throughout.

Exercise 13

Retrieve a toy

This exercise is introduced to assess the level of control the handler has over their dog when they are asked to retrieve after a toy and bring it back to them. Just as you would do when throwing a ball around for your dog out in the park.

This is a motivational and control exercise which does not require the dog to be in a sit or down at the handler’s side. Instead the handle can gently how the dogs collar whilst motivating the dog with their voice and on the Assessors command throw the toy as hard and as far away from the dog/handler as possible.

When the toy has landed on the ground the handler can give the command for the dog to retrieve the article.

Upon retrieving the article, the dog should return promptly to the handler.

The handler will then command the dog to either sit or down and then command the dog to drop the toy.

Once the handler has taken the toy from the dog the exercise is complete.

Exercise 14

Prepare for a walk

This exercise looks at the first step to controlling our dog in an everyday exercising regime. We are looking at control in being able to put on a coat, take up the dog’s lead, exit and secure the building and walk down the driveway.

This exercise will be linked with Exercise 15

Exercise 15

Walking Through a Small Crowd with distractions

This exercise demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to people (at least four).

The dog may show some interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with the handler, without evidence of over-exuberance, shyness or resentment.

The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise the dog throughout the test. The dog should not jump on people in the crowd or strain on the lead.”

In other words, this test shows that your dog won’t be a danger or annoyance to you or others when walking in public.

The Assessor will brief the candidate on the day of the test as to how they require this exercise to be performed

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