How to train Charlie?

Charlie finished his 6-week Baxter & Bella Online Puppy Training. After a brief break we are enrolled in Intermediate Training. When in training mode, he is right there. After 1 hour he is tuckered out. He becomes a wild pup, and need a time out before he takes his afternoon nap. I feel so bad when he looks at me and barks. I know he is saying something. They are not just random barks. I think he is saying now make my time with you exciting or I’ll zoom around, jump in the air, and make trouble. Funny, how a cute puppy can make you feel like you’re just boring. After more time with Charlie I now think I am experiencing a puppy version of an overtired toddler having a tantrum. So maybe I am not boring.

When I say “Settle” he gives me his smooch-face!

Group classes are still not widely available. Not being sure I was able to change some of Charlie’s less than desirable habits I searched out help. Albree Dog Training and Alan Miller was recommended by a friend. After spending over an hour I am more confused. All my reading, training, and practice were discounted by this trainer. We were not a good fit. I guess I’m not ready to go the chokehold route. So this week I am returning to my Baxter & Bella zoom Intermediate class and I’ll keep on practicing.

Like a growing toddler, my Charlie grew out of his small plastic crate. I thought I would take him out to Petco and pick up a larger crate. I am trying to expand his world. Well, with all the smells, other dogs, and friendly employees I thought this would be a positive experience. Nope. A loud noise in the parking lot changed his mind, and he wanted to get back in the car. Not to be deterred I encouraged Charlie to enter the store. His mind would not be changed, and when we were in the middle of the store he pulled his leash out of my hand and took off for the front of the store. I followed and saw that the automatic doors were wide open. Out he went, and ran right over to my car, and sat down and waited for me to catch up. My heart was pounding, Charlie jumped right into the car, and that was the end of our shopping trip. Now I know he is smart, but I didn’t think he would be able to recognize my Subaru Outback from other cars in a parking lot. Go figure.

We just got past a double whammy. Ten days of record-breaking heatwave (110+ degrees) and fires breaking out all over California. Not much outdoor time, and certainly no long, leisurely walks. When the asphalt gets hot, I have to remember that my Charlie is walking along in his bare paws. This is the west coast version of being snowed in. So I have to be patient with my training and Charlie’s lack of socialization. It will happen, just a bit slower than I would have liked.

Charlie is always ready to fetch a ball!

Trying to stay focused on positive experiences!

The Psychology of Selecting Toys

Puppies have a lot of energy. Well, much more than I have. They play hard and then fall asleep. My foot serves as Charlie’s pillow. This way I am required to stay in place while he naps. Did I say he is so smart?

Charlie is 6 months old. Sometimes I feel like I am getting better at being able to read his mind. Other times, I know that he knows how to manipulate me to his whims. So how do I keep my Charlie amused, tired, and out of trouble? A game of Fetch is a good start. We look for a ball, I throw, he retrieves, and gives it back. Repeat. This works for both the outside and inside. Food is a good motivator and a frozen Kong in his “room” can occupy about 15 minutes, tops. Then … off to look for something to chew.

He just loves to chew, and chew, and chew. Given Charlie’s determination to chew I have to watch him with his toys. He sleeps with his Snuggle Puppy, but the other day he proudly took his puppy out of his room (crate). Then proceeded to shake it wildly. Ok, not a problem. Then he settled down, and quickly eliminated the tail. In short order, I looked and his puppy was tailless and missing an ear. I felt bad taking the toy away, but now I worried if this toy would create a health issue. Carefully watching his behavior, and reading his poop. Yup, my new pup has put me in charge of poop patrol. Given a stuffed toy he picks an appendage and works at it until it just disappears. Swallowed up. I am so nervous that he will hurt himself with his compulsive eviscerating of stuffed toys. Even called my vet, and asked if I should be worried. The advice given was if he eats, plays, and poops without a problem then he is probably ok. The fibers are probably concealed.

So now I am searching for that toy that will satisfy the urge to chew that lasts more than 10 minutes. I look online, read reviews from other pet owners, and visit my local Petco.

I skip past all the cute stuffed chew toys. Even the ones that say “Tuff”. I brought home a toy made from the same material as a fire hose. No problem for Charlie. Then I enter the aisle with hard stuff for chewing. I have one blue dog bone that I had for Libby. She never cared for it. I liked the fact that it was actually made here in the USA. Well, Charlie is not a fan either. I guess that is why it looks perfectly new. No teeth marks. I look at some softer rubber toys in a variety of shapes.

What appeals to a puppy? Does your puppy have a favorite toy?

This looks like a long stick, and the material has some give to it.

As you can see, not destroyed, but not a winner either.

Again, Charlie pretty much ignores it. I looked in the bargain bin. Figuring if it gets destroyed my pocket won’t feel too bad. Here is a squeaky bright green figure of a character doing a yoga pose. I start up a conversation with another pet owner. I tell her that there is another larger “Yoga Hero” in the bin for $4.00, but she says her retriever would attack the foot in a matter of minutes. I can’t tell if it will be too big for Charlie’s mouth but I decide to take a chance. It is a hit with Charlie. He likes to make it squeak. When thrown Yoga bounces randomly. It took a while but the yoga foot has been crippled.

Charlie will search for his Yoga toy on command

Luckily, I found the missing piece, so there will be no ongoing poop search.

Charlie loves food. He perks up when he hears the word Kong. I freeze his kibble and top it off with peanut butter.

Charlie is about to consume his frozen Kong

But the search to find the best chew toy continues. I just have to learn to think like a puppy!

Summer, Charlie and CoVid

When I think of summer, July 4th seemed to be a dividing point. Early summer, mid-summer, and late summer. Before July 4th the days were warming up. The country’s government was bowing to the idea that the economy needed to get back to a more normal status. This put some additional pressure on me to move away from self-quarantine and slowly, carefully join others outside.

July 4th came and went. Many firework displays were canceled. I was not too disappointed. The local groups sold “safe n sane” fireworks on every corner. Pride was taken in opening up more windows so fewer people would be waiting next to one another. I am not a fan of these pop-up fireworks stores or the fireworks they sell. Growing up in New York, all fireworks are prohibited. Large firework displays are planned, and I can still remember watching fireworks in the skies on Long Island. Salisbury Park (the name was changed), and over the Sears parking lot from the Gertz-side in Hicksville. One year we were in Boston and watched the display along the river with Tschaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. Cannons included. One of the first fireworks display I saw in California was at the Hollywood Bowl. Unbelievable! Picnics with candelabras and more. Here in Sacramento, we took the kids to Cal Expo, and in Carmichael at the closed La Sierra High School campus. Once we went down to Old Sac to watch the display. Unfortunately, the crowds made me feel uncomfortable and unsafe. A lot of alcohol.

Since CoVid 19 got in the way of large gatherings the following images are from a past Fourth of Julys

Folsom parade with costumes, a cattle drive down main street.

Carmichael parade with old cars decked out.

Photographically, I like parades.

For the past 9 years, I have had more concern for my dog. Libby, a calm black lab felt better at home in her crate. So fireworks were watched on tv along with the movie 1776. This year, with my new pup Charlie I was warned by my neighbors that it would be noisy in front of my house. They were right. There was noise also coming from the street behind us. And the smell of gunpowder hung in the air. But Charlie remained calm, and even went outside to do his business! Good boy!

The hot temperatures here in Fair Oaks does not disappoint. I went looking for a small wading pool for Charlie. Scored one on sale at Emigh’s. I just love this store. Service is top-notch. All of the employees know their products. In summer or winter time my photo friends and I have permission to photograph at the store. No money was exchanged for this endorsement. The parking lot is always full of satisfied customers.

The first time I filled up the 45″ pool Charlie thought it was a BIG water dish. I got in and pulled my puppy in. The next time he ignored the pool altogether. The third time, he got into it. Started digging, splashing, and jumping in and out.

Charlie’s first time in his pool!
Enjoying splashing around!

Getting out and socializing in the time of CoVid 19 is not easy. In July the Sactown Doodles Meetup Group planned an event in Rocklin. No need to RSVP, and I decided that Charlie could use the experience. It was outdoors and the description of the dog park made it very tempting. I messaged Gidget’s owner and arranged a reunion. We also saw Kona, Charlie’s great Aunt. An unexpected surprise. I met Jennifer and Kona last summer when I was looking for a breeder. Many people, not quite so many masks, and many doodles participated. At five months Charlie was one of the younger members there, but he thoroughly enjoyed himself. Visited with many dogs and dog owners. Glad I went. Charlie kept an eye on my whereabouts. I only brought my iPhone, and I didn’t even video this one-hour event. Just enjoying the moment with doodles and their owners.

Glad to have this photo of the two of us. Thanks Beth!

Unfortunately, CoVid 19 is not going away, and numbers are way up here in California. Just heard, a teacher I worked with is getting over this virus. He said it was “no flu”. Glad to hear he is on the mend. But with all the new cases, and no testing or contact tracing being done the scary factor is growing.

Just got three masks I ordered from Etsy. I wanted to support small businesses here in the U.S. A. This new accessory will be around for a while, and I wanted to be protected, comfortable, and stylish! This is the first time ordering on Etsy, and it was a positive experience. Orders went in easily, and arrived quickly. I will test drive these three styles, and then order a few more. So when I am out, I will be wearing a mask to help stop the spread of the Corona Virus. And you should too!!!

Twenty-Three Minus Seven

Sixteen weeks together with Charlie, my Australian Labradoodle (ALD). My puppy has changed so much in the past 4 months. Hard to believe.

I brought home a seven-pound seven-week-old puppy. I now have a 26 pound twenty-three-week old puppy. Charlie is definitely food motivated. He now gets two meals a day, and plenty of training bits. And by bits, I mean the tiniest crumb of a treat. Some days he enjoys a frozen kibble stuffed Kong in his crate.

It is amazing at how many food-related words he knows. Are you hungry? I get a loud woof! How about a Kong? He goes straight to the freezer. Have some water. Treat. With my Libby, I had a bed close by the dinner table where she would stay while we ate. Tried that, but Charlie put the bed to other uses, and so one bed is gone. So Charlie now lies down under the table near my feet. But there is no begging. My husband would like to see Charlie behave more like the mature dog Libby. Charlie is still in training mode.

After dinner, Charlie wants to help with my dishwashing. It was hard for a while, but since I use the “Place” command, he does a down-stay on his mat and watches me fill the dishwasher. I just don’t want Charlie to get into some food that may be bad for his digestion. Jo started my puppy with Life’s Abundance for small/medium puppies. No digestive issues, no scratching, no problems. So why change? Delivery is simple. An email reminds me of an upcoming order. Changes to the order is easy. I have also used some of their treats, and training treats. All meet with Charlie’s approval.

We finished five weeks of a six-week training class. Baxter and Bella Online Training. Amy provides lifetime live training sessions that are also recorded so I can watch again. After class, an email arrives with homework for the week. Each day I emphasize a different command. Today, the command is “Wait” and “Go to your room” (crate). There is a FB group for member support about anything dog related. Interesting to hear from other pet owners going through the same experience. I have not used the “one on one” video chat with Amy yet, but I know it is there if I need it. Games, podcasts, videos, and written charts/instructions are always available.

Life is ruff, for my boy!

I see such growth in his learning. I know he understands all of the commands. And last week he was put to the test. My daughter left her teacup Pomeranian Max at my house while Charlie and I were out. This afternoon, Charlie was barking. I told him shhh, and down. And he did it with no treats around. There is 1 more lesson to complete the Puppy Class. He has learned – Sit, Down, Leave It, Come, Touch, Wait, and Loose leash walking. Now we practice in a variety of places, with distractions, distance, and duration. Progress is being made. My husband remembers my well trained 9 year-old Lab and still wonders if Charlie will ever get there. Adding bells to my back door, and potty training is on the done side! I have become Charlie’s doorman as my sister-in-law kindly pointed out to me. Though today I learned that if I am busy elsewhere I will hear the bells being frantically rung. Smart guy! Who is training whom?

I caught Charlie chewing on something, and went to investigate. He had lost a molar and was chewing on it. Yes, his adult teeth are replacing the shark teeth. Three canines out, one sharp canine still to go. Our arms are now healing.

Charlie has soft, fluffy hair that started to hide his beautiful eyes.

Charlie before his haircut.

He experienced his first puppy cut, and he and I survived. It was hard to have Charlie away from me and with someone he never met for an hour.

I can see again! Notice his ear is flipped over. It’s cooler this way!

I haven’t decided on a permanent groomer. With CoVid19 it is hard to meet anyone face to face. And smart as Charlie is he can’t talk. So I depend more on recommendations and reviews. My neighbor acts as a “grandparent” to a golden doodle in the neighborhood so I asked where Buster got his haircut. Buster is a standard golden doodle with very curly poodle-type wool hair with hair shaved way short for the summer. Not a match for Charlie who has long, fleece-like hair. But the groomer also had good reviews on Yelp. One price, one hour, one dog at a time, and no cages got me to make the appointment. I brought a paper with my instructions, and photo to the appointment. He looked at it briefly and handed it back to me. The groomer is close so I left Charlie and went home. Returned in one hour and the puppy cut was done. So what is the hesitation to return? My instruction sheet was given a cursory glance. I said not to cut Charlie’s eyelashes, and they were cut. I know, they grow back. His sanitary trim was only so so. I was given a discount since this was only a puppy cut and only facial hair was cut. So I will continue to ask around for Labradoodle groomer recommendations.

So my life has gone to the dogs! Well, actually only my one and only Charlie.