Truthfully...I hate classes that train just for the CGC exercises. I don’t think it teaches the dog anything but the exercise…and like your dog, it doesn’t really help get them over things and truly doesn’t prove anything because if you do just get your dog used to a certain brush…the dog might still fail when a different brush is used for the test.
My first dog…that I raised from a puppy. Got his at around two years old. I had to wait a little for maturity, but it was mostly just working on the stay. He had his CD before that, and we just kind of trained for obedience, not really the exercises. I knew his temperament would get him through the touching/noise exercises. Plus…with enough obedience, the dog should just get through some of that stuff. He also had his temperament certification from the GSDCA by that point as well…so I knew he could handle more than what the CGC tests for.
My female…got her in December at 2.5 years old, worked a bit in obedience, started IPO work, just passed her CGC this summer. We have a CGC evaluator that comes to our training group, and she offered to give the test to the dogs. It was really fun. Our helper was in the group for the walking around people exercise…and all the dogs passed with flying colors.
I think the training just needs to be about training a good dog, rather than focusing so much on the exercises. You start to put too much stress on the dog when you’re really focusing on just those 10 exercises and trying to get over one or two of the issues you’re seeing. If you don’t make the training a big deal, your dog won’t think a lot of stuff is a big deal. But when you’re constantly pushing a brush at them, grabbing their feet, ect…you’re not letting the dog be themselves. You’re just doing things to the dog that it doesn’t like and doesn’t understand why you’re doing them to it.
As far as your trainer’s assistant having a 4 year old dog that still hasn’t passed the CGC…I’m sorry…that’s not maturity, that’s a failure in training or just bad temperament. There shouldn’t be any excuse for not having a CGC by 4 years old…maturity is just a cop out, especially for someone that wants to be a dog trainer.