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 class 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.
She’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!”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.