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.
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).
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.