Charlie, an extreme greeter, learns to chill out

Posted November 26, 2008

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— Those of you getting ready for people to come over for the holidays may identify with "Bad Dog"  Charlie's owners.

The 60-pound Basset Hound/Lab/Shepherd mix is a lovable ball of fur. The problem is, the 18-month-old loves too much. His affectionate behavior can be overwhelming. He jumps, whines and tries to get as close to the new person as possible.

“He wants to greet them, greet them some more maybe, a little more after that and then just doesn't want to let go,” said Brian Champion, one of Charlie's owners.

When you are a big and powerful dog, the extreme greeting can be scary, especially for children.

“They run because they're scared. He runs because he's excited. And the next thing you know, you have a 3-year-old on the floor crying,” said Jessica Champion, Charlie's other owner.

The Champions thought Charlie would grow out of it, but that hasn't happened.

“Nothing really changed. He's still the same puppy he was a year ago,” Brian Champion said.

Sharon Moll, a trainer from PetSmart, was called to help Charlie chill out.

“We have to find that happy medium where he says, 'Oh my God, a new person is here. Oh my God, I'm so happy to see you.' We want him to go, 'Oh hey, somebody's here,'” Moll said.

Her secret is to reward the good behavior and ignore the bad.

“Over and over and over again, you can keep addressing the bad behavior, but if you don't address a good behavior, it's all out the window,” Moll said.

Moll also wants the couple to train their guests on how to greet Charlie – not to be rude, but to tell people coming through the door: "Don't look, don't talk and don't touch."

“So this is exactly where I'd say, 'Don't' look, don't talk, don't touch. Look up, don't look at Charlie and completely ignore him,'” Moll said as someone appeared at the door.

“(And) for little kids, teach them to be a tree."

When people stop Charlie before his bad behavior starts, the dog can learn to get love with all four paws on the floor.

Moll used treats to train Charlie, but mostly he craved attention more than a cookie.


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