Charlotte Jane vs. Charlotte Duane

Ok, first off, I need to be completely honest and say that Charlotte sucks at puppy class.  The amount of distractions with the other puppies around is insane.  She hears multiple clickers going off all at the same time and I think it probably drives her crazy.  She doesn’t even know her name in puppy class.  I click and treat her and do my best to get her to focus in on me, but she really just can’t do it with all of the distractions.  There’s a couple of dogs in particular who drive her crazy.  I can tell she just wants to get them outside and run them into the ground, but we have to be civilized in puppy class and mind our manners.  It’s hard.

It was this past week with my neighbor Erika that we decided to call Charlotte “Charlotte Duane” when she is doing something bad.  In Erika’s family, all of their dogs have had the middle name “Duane” whenever they did something wrong.  The name certainly fits Charlotte in certain situations, and she was definitely in fine form as Charlotte Duane the last two weeks at puppy class.  Just like last week, she was sitting in the middle of the room, leash taut to her neck, barking.  We had a “meet and greet” training exercise where the dogs needed to go up to each other, sniff each other politely, and then turn away when called by their handlers.  Charlotte Duane was like, “OHMYGOD, you are the coolest dog EVER!  Do you want to play?” all wiggles and grins and I kid you not every other dog and handler was like, “Get that crazy black lab away from us.”  To which Charlotte Duane’s response was, “Wait, what?  We have to go?  They’re not interested?  But WHY?!?…

And then there were the games.  We were supposed to have them play with a handkerchief, a bell, a light that when tapped went on and off, a basket.  What did Charlotte Duane do?  She climbed into the box that was holding the toys to eat some stray kibble that was in there.  Seriously, head, paws, and front end all in the box pushing the toys out of the way to get the food.  Butt in the air with tail wagging.  I was so embarrassed.  She really is such a smart dog!  Why does she lose her mind and get all stupid at puppy class?  She’s like the one kid at the party who gets all hyped up on sugar and is like, “Let’s PARTY!!!” And all the other kids just stare at him with eyes wide and mouth open and gaping.

Contrast this bad puppy to the puppy I know at home; the puppy I know on the trails and in my own neighborhood.  That good puppy is the one I know as Charlotte Jane.  Sure, she gets excited around other people and dogs and jumps up, but we’re working on that, and she’s just a four-month-old puppy.  She’s actually shown a little improvement the past few days as far as the jumping up on people.  Several days ago, we were hiking on a trail above Salt Lake City.  Charlotte saw a group of people:  a couple of ladies and a young boy.  She started to jump up and I told her, “OFF!”  I told the boy to tell her “Off!” and you know what she did?  She got down and stopped jumping on them.  She sat on the trail and wiggled and let them pet her.

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Charlotte Jane the trail dog

Later that same hike, she was about 30 yards ahead of me on the trail when another woman with a dog called up to us, “My dog isn’t very good around other dogs!” as she got her dog clipped on the leash.  I called to Charlotte and she looked back to me.  I clicked the clicker and she stayed where she was (and didn’t advance to the other dog).  She and I did this one more time and then on the third try, I said, “Charlotte here!  Come here!”  And she came.  From 30 yards away with another dog and person tempting her down the trail.  Charlotte Jane.

She is really such a sweet puppy and she tries so hard.  She plays hard and she loves hard.  She loves so much on one of my cats that the cat is terrified of her (Charlotte Duane).  She loves so hard that she cries in her kennel at night for the first few minutes because she wants to be with her family (Charlotte Jane).  She plays so hard with her friend Watson and typically lets him win (she doesn’t fight back) when he gets a little rowdy (Charlotte Jane).  She sticks around on the trail, off leash, and comes when she’s called (Charlotte Jane).  She did escape from the neighbors’ yard the other day (Charlotte Duane), which gave my neighbor Kate and I both a heart attack because we didn’t know where she had gone, but then she was found by another neighbor sitting in the front yard of her own house (Charlotte Jane).  She sits, stays, lies down, shakes hands, and rolls over all for treats (Charlotte Jane).

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Puppy trail kisses are the best

Counting up the Charlotte Janes vs the Charlotte Duanes, she really is a good puppy.  She just gets challenged with there are other distractions, especially other dogs (puppies).  I’m planning on taking Charlotte to the park near our house to sit on a bench and sit, stay, and watch other people go by all while trying to be calm.  I’ll try and teach Charlotte to “settle” and not get too excited about the things around us but just let things “be” and hopefully she can earn a few treats and clicks while doing so.  Laurie, our puppy class instructor, said, “She might only earn one or two treats the first time you go.  But that’s ok.  It’s all about trying to get her to be good while there’s other distractions around and when things are difficult.”

I know that there will always be a part of Charlotte who is Duane.  But we are going to try and get Charlotte Jane to win out the majority of the time.

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Charlotte Jane and her best buddy Watson, taking a break from playing wrestle-mania

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So, so tired from playing so hard with friend Watson

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Some days are just like, well… huh. Puppy Class with Charlotte

Charlotte and I have gone to two puppy-training classes at the kennel/daycare/vet office where I met her.  The first lesson day went spectacularly!  Charlotte was a star pupil.  Puppy training climg_86371.jpgass is not about socialization and playing.  It’s work.  Charlotte did a really great job to sit and wait quietly and listen to her clicker for the first time two weeks ago.  She earned a lot of treats and soon learned that being a good dog means getting lots of clicks and treats.

I was a bit skeptical of the clicker training method at first, but after working with Charlotte at home and on the trails with the clicker, she really seems to respond to it well, and it helps her to focus and listen to me.

Don’t get me wrong, she is still a four-month-old puppy.  She has her struggles.  The other night, after having a really busy day (me at work, Charlotte played out in the neighbors’ back yard for about 4 hours while I was gone) she really just couldn’t settle down and go to bed.  She barked in her kennel for about an hour.  I took her out to potty and got her a drink of water, but she still just wouldn’t settle down.  I ended up putting her in bed with me and she slept through the night.  I don’t want it to become commonplace for her to sleep in my bed with me, but sometimes when times are tough, you gotta break the rules to have a little snuggle time.

IMG_8850.JPGShe’s also been jumping up on things more (the couch to chase the cat, front paws on the kitchen counter, dining room table, and entryway table) and I’m thinking she is just going through an adolescent curiosity phase.  We are working on “sit and wait” and “down and stay” and she actually is doing pretty well with those commands as well.  I’m trying to keep lots of legal things around for her to chew on:  peanut butter Kongs and rawhide treats, and letting her know when she is good (instead of just yelling at her when she is bad).

So, to recount the second class of puppy training, I first need to say that Charlotte went out for almost 4 hours (car time and hiking time) with Mountain Mutts and my friend Nicole.  It was Charlotte’s first outing with the group, and Nicole got some really great photos of Charlotte tearing up the trails.  Previously, my Goldens, Franklin and Artemis, had gone with two other friends of mine who have dog hiking groups.  But I chose for Charlotte to go with Nicole because Charlotte’s best friend, Watson the terrier, goes with her and is a really great mentor for Charlotte.

I got off work a little after 5pm, and got home to get Franklin and Charlotte out for a quick stroll around the block before leaving for class.  I also fed Charlotte her dinner.  Looking at her, laying in her bed after eating dinner, I could tell she needed a nap, but we didn’t really have time for that.  Class started at 6:30, and Charlotte was asleep in the car on the way to class.

Unfortunately, it was raining, so the outdoor facilities at the kennel were unavailable for the class.  More folks and their dogs had also shown up class this time.  I was a little overwhelmed with the high energy of the class and the close proximity of the dogs, and I can only imagine how poor, tired Charlotte felt.

Class did not go well.  There were several times when Charlotte just sat in the middle of the room and barked.  She clearly looked like she was over it.  Once during the class, the instructor, Laurie, was giving the group some instructions and at the end of the explanation, she said, “Unless you are Charlotte, and then, well…. we’ll just take what we can get today.”

I went up to Laurie after the class and explained the situation, told her what Charlotte had done with the hiking group earlier that day, and we both agreed that Charlotte was just plain over-stimulated and probably needed a nap.  I thanked Laurie and told her we would see her next week, and that I was happy for what Charlotte did accomplish today:  trying to concentrate and do what she’s told even though she was tired and didn’t want to be there.  Laurie agreed, and said, “I wish everyone could understand that about puppies!”

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Charlotte immediately zonked out in the car for the drive home from puppy class.

Charlotte and I did have a couple of great trail runs the past couple of days.  She’s been working on the command “here” with and without the clicker, and is circling back around after going ahead on her own (she never goes more than 10-20 yards).  I’m really super-proud of her, and happy that she is catching on so quickly to commands.  All this hard work early in her life is really paying off for the future, I can just tell.  I’m so lucky to have such a smart pup who wants to learn and please.

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Beautiful Charlotte pup on the trail this weekend

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Puppy trail kisses

Charlotte Takes to the Trails

Two months ago, I thought this day would never come:  the day that Charlotte turned 4 months old!  It seemed like it was an eternity away.  When I got her, two months ago, I never thought that Artemis wouldn’t be here to watch her grow up and teach her how to be a big dog.  That responsibility has fallen on the arthritic shoulders of Franklin, who is 14 1/2 years old.  Franklin is doing the best he can, but sometimes it seems that Charlotte expects too much from this old, tired dog!  He’s not really into how she pulls his tail and snaps at his heels.  He lets her know it’s not acceptable, and I suppose that is something that a puppy should learn at a young age.

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Franklin (r) is teaching Charlotte (l) a little bit of patience.


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Watson (l) is quickly becoming Charlotte’s best bud.

There’s also another dog in the picture:  Watson, the neighbors’ two year old terrier.  He and Charlotte have become best buds over the past two months.  He’s teaching Charlotte how to play and wrestle and how to be a good trail dog.

If you read in the puppy books on how to socialize your puppy, a lot is said about the importance of socializing your dog early.  But it’s also kind of a scary process, not because the pup can be intimidated by older dogs, but because they are not fully vaccinated until they are 4 months old.  So a lot of people think they can’t take their dogs out at all until they are fully vaccinated at 4 months old.  I can tell you, I couldn’t wait until the day that I could start taking Charlotte on walks in the neighborhood and on the trails just a few weeks later.  I can’t imagine trying to keep her contained to her house and yard until she was 4 months old.  I think she would have probably developed a lot of bad behaviors.

When Charlotte turned 3 months old, she got a DHPP+B vaccine, which includes distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis), parvo, parainfluenza, and bordatella protection.  The one I worried about most was parvo, after having a friend lose two golden retriever puppies to the virus several years ago.  It’s often found in parks, dog parks, and places “frequented by dogs” where poop is found (which could be the dang sidewalk outside my house for all I know).

I decided to keep Charlotte mostly contained to the back yard and the neighbors’ yard with Watson until she was just under 3 months old, then I asked the vet when she could go out into the neighborhood.  She got DHPP+B at two months old, and after getting her DHPP+B booster just shy of 3 months old, the vet said she could hit the streets 48 hours later.  Woohoo!  We started walking around the block regularly as soon as the 48 hour window had passed.  She got another booster about 3 weeks later, and after another 48 hours we were cleared to hit the trails!

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Good Charlotte, sticking close by on the trail (leash available, just in case!)

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Charlotte checks to see that I’m coming as Watson blazes the trail ahead.

Charlotte has taken to the trails like a natural.  She sticks close by, and often tags my heels with her step (which I don’t mind, because she doesn’t trip me, and I know where she is). So different from Artemis who was into this and that and running off to chase animals.  Charlotte will run about 10 to 20 feet ahead, and turn around to look and make sure I am coming.  It warms my heart to know that Charlotte is so loyal and is behaving, but I also wonder what she will be like as the weeks pass and she gets older and more adventurous.  She is definitely interested in other people, dogs, and birds in the neighborhood and on the trails, but has yet to encounter such things as moose, deer, and coyotes.

Watching Charlotte makes me also think of Artemis, who was the true huntress, and was off in the blink of an eye to dive her head into a carcass off the side of the trail and start eating carrion.  Ugh, so gross.  Time will tell if Charlotte develops a taste for dead meat!

It’s such a great thing to watch this puppy grow and learn.  Tonight we are going to our first puppy class and will have to let you know how it goes!  I’m sure it will be tons of fun watching all the pups playing together.  We hope to learn some good training tips as well.