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Shelby sez: "Yes, I'm comfy. Why do you ask..?"

...So, how much time in a crate (or kennel) is the right amount for a puppy? This common question came up again in an SOS call from a training client with an 8-week-old puppy. It's been many years since they last had a puppy, and they were struggling with some wild nipping and biting.

The mom said they'd already met with a trainer who told them whenever the little guy got all sharky, they should calmly put him in his crate for a time-out -- and, in fact, the puppy should be spending 70-80% of his time in the crate. Was this good advice?

Well, I know what this other trainer was getting at, but I think he went overboard. Puppies should be crated for the night and when left home without supervision. They can even be crated for short stretches when you're in the same room but too preoccupied to supervise. So far, so good.

And, yes, you can certainly use a crate as a time-out space when a puppy misbehaves. The idea is this: if a puppy pestering his humans for attention gets the opposite -- the withdrawal of attention  -- he'll figure out this isn't a good strategy and learn some self-control. It's not what we typically think of as punishment -- entailing scolding or, as one long-ago client said she did, putting the puppy in his crate with the admonition, "Now you think about what you did!"

In psych-speak, a time-out is what's known as "negative punishment" -- in human terms, when a kid sasses Mom, he may lose the privilege of watching a favorite TV show. Something desirable is lost as a consequence of misbehavior.

But if a puppy spends three-quarters of his daylight hours crated when his humans are home, then he's not getting the interaction he needs if he's ever going to learn good manners. Does such extensive crating decrease opportunities for misbehavior? You bet. But it also decreases a puppy's opportunities to make mistakes and be corrected, which is a primary way both canine and human critters learn what's OK and what isn't.

So, if a puppy is out of his crate, loose and ready to wreak havoc, how do you control this furry, sharp-toothed agent of chaos? Simple: just use a leash in the house (with supervision, so leash and puppy don't get tangled up anywhere).

The leash confers superpowers on any human holding it -- enforcement power over the word "No," and the all-important abilities to keep a puppy from doing something bad and guide him toward preferred alternatives. For example, all puppies love to jump on visitors to say hello and get attention -- but it's serious bad manners.

With a leash, you can keep your puppy from connecting with his target; then you can use a treat to guide him into a nice sit and help him remain sitting so your visitor can greet (and give a treat to) a calm puppy. A crated puppy who doesn't get to interact with visitors will never learn how to be polite.

Too much crating can also cause puppies to loathe their crates. Considering what a useful training aid a crate can be (a combination of crib and playpen), inadvertently teaching a puppy to hate his crate is an unintended consequence sure to be regretted.

For great tips on the best ways to use a crate and help puppies love their cozy little rooms, check out our "Crates are Great!" article in the "Resources" section of

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Visit Maryland dog trainer and writer Howard Weinstein at

Happy 1st Birthday to Shelby!

Birthday1photo 4crop
...So, today is our little Welsh Corgi puppy Shelby's first birthday. She's been with us for an eventful and eye-opening 9 months.

Last time we raised a puppy was 17 years ago. And that was actually TWO puppies, the late great Mickey and Callie (who both left us in 2012, each reaching more than16 years of age). How we did this with TWO puppies at the same time back then, I have no idea! It helped that we were much younger, with much more energy, and that the puppies tired each other out. Poor Shelby relies on us to be her playmates, and we can't play with her as much as she'd like.

It's so much fun to watch puppies figure out who they are. Shelby has an "artistic" temperament. She can be loud and impatient, but she's also clever at cooking up games and routines to entertain herself -- and us.

Our favorite so far: Shelby is our first dog to do interpretive dances with her toys. She'll grab a toy in her mouth, do at least 4 fast spins in the center of the living room, then pause dramatically before flopping onto her back. Then she looks over at us to make sure her audience was watching. We always applaud: "Good Spinny-Dance!"

We've thought about trying to teach her to do Spinny-Dance on cue. But it's such a spontaneous expression of puppy joy, we'll leave it up to her to do it when she feels inspired. We do still hope to get it on video, and we hope she does it forever.

Shelby is sociable and gregarious: she adores the neighborhood kids, has more doggy buddies than we can count, and happy-dances every time she sees one of her human or canine pals on our walks. She's learned to appreciate tidbits of such healthy goodies as apples, bananas and carrots when we eat them -- along with being polite enough to wait her turn and not demand a second serving.

She's been a pretty good demo doggy at my puppy classes, although she gets loud and cranky if she's not the center of my attention, so she doesn't come to class all the time (yet).

From the first weeks we had her, she's loved to climb on top of things (including her crate, above). And with her powerful haunches, she flies high and far with the greatest of ease. I would not be surprised to see her standing on the kitchen table one day. I wouldn't be happy about it, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Much of these past 9 months has been spent teaching Shelby her good-puppy manners, supervising her to keep her out of trouble, and continuing an endless quest for toys she can't destroy in ten minutes. We have quite a graveyard of toys fatally shredded by the Jaws of Destruction!

She hates loud noises, including the vacuum cleaner and all manner of kitchen appliances. But on the bright side, she hasn't chewed up any furniture or unraveled the carpeting (yet). So far, Shelby has been 98 percent joy and 2 percent exasperation -- not bad for a "teenage" puppy.

Happy birthday, Shelly-belly-jelly-bean!


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What DOES a Corgi puppy have in common with Indiana Jones?

...So, okay, first, there's a fun little game you can play with your puppy or dog. Start with a plastic cup you can't see through, and place it over a treat on the floor. (See above video)

Your dog has to figure out how to get the treat. Some dogs push the cup with their nose until it falls over, others smack it with a paw...and retriever puppies often pick up the cup and happily carry it around, forgetting about the treat altogether!

At first, puppy Shelby stood back and yapped at the cup like it was the vanguard of an alien invasion. But she got the idea and became so adept at knocking it over so quickly that it was hard to catch on video! She's also mastered "The Tablecloth Trick" -- like the magician who zips a tablecloth out from under china, crystal and silver without so much as tipping a wine glass, Shelby can capture the treat without upending the cup.

So we advanced to the 2-cup variation. You can do the classic "shell game," wherein there are two cups but only one treat, you shift the cups back and forth and see if your dog can locate the treat. Or you can do it with a treat under each cup, which is what we did with Shelby.

As you'll see from the short video (below), Shelby gets the first treat right away. But then she's a little thrown by the second "alien invader" cup, and she tries to knock it over using the power of shrieky-puppy-bark sound waves for a few seconds.

What happens next reminded me of the scene in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, where Indiana Jones is confronted by a sinister scimitar-wielding thug in a teeming alley. As the assailant whips his sword around in a display of intimidating prowess, Indy wonders how his bullwhip is going to get him out of this pickle...and then he realizes he has a gun, yanks it out and shoots the thug.


After Shelby screams at the second cup for a few seconds, she suddenly remembers, "Oh, yeah...just knock it down." Which she then proceeds to do with casual confidence worthy of Indiana Jones.

Shelby recommends playing this game with your dog (with the cup and treats, NOT the gun and sword!)...It's fun!


Howard Weinstein started Day-One Dog Training in Howard County, Maryland in 1998. You can reach him through He's also the author of Puppy Kisses are Good for the Soul & Other Important Lessons You& Your Dog Can Teach Each Other (available in both paperback and e-book at -- -- or


"How many noms you wanna betz I can learn to play dis thing..?"

...So, this week, our 4 month old Corgi puppy Shelby discovered how to make music using those springy door-stops in our house. She thinks this is lots of fun. And, we confess, so do we. She takes great pleasure in her new accomplishment.

She also discovered how to remove the door-stop's rubber tip (not a good thing) -- and then figured out how to unscrew the twanger from its wall mount. We're lucky she doesn't have opposable thumbs, or there'd be no stopping her puppy plans for world domination!

Here's a short video of Shelby's twangy-music composition. Enjoy!


THE SHELBY SHOW: Shelby Does Weave Poles!

"You want me to learn PLUMBING?!?"

...So, OK, they're really weave plungers. You may be thinking, "Huh??"

As you may already know, dog agility is a fun sport-activity in which amazing dogs navigate through an obstacle course -- racing over jumps, through tunnels, climbing a-frame structures, tip-toeing over teeter-totters and slaloming through weave poles. (If you've never seen it, check out this short YouTube video of a Corgi named Cooper zipping through his agility course:

Agility is very challenging, and the equipment can be pricey. Plus, and we're kinda lazy here, so we never "jumped" into it formally. But we did want to give our previous dogs Mickey and Callie a taste of the sport. So we picked up an inexpensive kids' tunnel at Toys 'R' Us, and we found online plans for a home-made, easy-to-build adjustable-height jump using about 10 bucks' worth of PVC piping and plumbing clamps from Home Depot. Mickey and Callie really enjoyed their agility play. But I could never come up with a cheap, easy indoor substitute for those slalom weave poles.

Then, with Shelby's arrival, I stumbled across a brilliantly simple solution online: toilet plungers!  I found the cheapest plungers I could (above) at Walmart, four for just 10 bucks -- they're actually terrible plungers, but those wide, flat rubber cups make excellent weave-pole bases.

We started with just two, using a bit of food to lead Shelby around them once and then CLICK-TREAT! Shelby got the idea right away, and we quickly progressed to three poles, leading her through two full laps around and through before she gets her CLICK-TREAT!

Shelby has also mastered the jump, but we're keeping the height low since she's only 14 weeks old and her joints and bones are still developing. We haven't tried the tunnel yet, but since she thinks it's a fun game to wriggle out from under a blanket when we drop it on top of her, she'll probably think running through a tunnel is fun, too. We'll have to post some videos here on the blog when we get a chance.

In her first two weeks with us, Shelby has proven herself a super-quick study. She's already learned all of her basic obedience commands, so we're scrambling to think of new and challenging things to teach her so she doesn't get bored. Our motto here at Day-One Dog Training has always been "Start the day your dog comes home!" Shelby is living proof of how much -- and how quickly -- puppies can learn if you do just that.

P.S. Shelby invented her own Zoom-Zoom! game this morning. We'd just come in from a soggy, abbreviated 7:30 AM walk. Then, living up to the performance standards of her namesake Shelby Cobra sports car, she raced 10 laps around the kitchen and living room, cooking up her own obstacle course around the coffee table and crate in the living room, hitting top speed on the straightaway into the kitchen, braking hard to weave through the hairpin turn under the table and through the chair legs, bouncing into her puppy pen and right back out and then doing the whole course over and over. Whew! What a happy way to start the day!!

THE SHELBY SHOW: What's in a Dog's Name?

Shelby-Cobra3    100_3348
                      Shelby Cobra...and Shelby Corgi!

...So, how did you decide on your dog's name?

Some people go with simple classics like Max or Rover. Others seek names with some personal meaning behind them. Whenever I meet dogs with uncommon names, I always ask their humans for the story behind the choice.

Our new puppy's name was inspired by the life of a tough, wily Texan named Carroll Shelby. For those who aren't car nuts or auto racing fans, that name won't mean anything. Carroll Shelby was a retired racing driver who, in the early 1960s, set out to build a working-class American sports car that could challenge the haughty Italian thoroughbred Ferrari on the world's road racing tracks.

He created the legendary Shelby Cobra by modifying an underpowered little British sports car and stuffing a lightweight Ford V-8 engine under the hood. In a few years, Shelby's Cobras did indeed beat Ferrari, becoming the first (and still only) American GT sports car to win the world manufacturer's championship in 1965. Shelby also teamed with Ford to transform the sporty Mustang into a real road-racing car, among many other automotive accomplishments. Original Cobras (as well as modern copies) are still prized by wealthy collectors.

So how does this connect with our new Welsh Corgi puppy? Well, Cobras were spirited, low-slung and stocky, with big tires and powerful acceleration matched by maneuverability. And Corgis are low-slung, spirited and speedy little dogs with big tires...I mean feet.

After Carroll Shelby died in 2012 at a ripe old age and many years after a successful heart transplant, I thought Shelby might be a fitting name for our next Corgi. At first, Susan wasn't so sure. But then she warmed up to the name, and we stuck with it.

So, our puppy's complete name is Shelby Mist Cobra Mustang White-Weinstein (Mist because "Misty" was the temporary name assigned by her breeder). And not only is she living up to her speedy sports car name -- but her chompy-sharp little baby teeth make us think of snakebites, too!

She will outgrow her current urge to bite everything in sight (soon, we hope!). But she'll always be our zoom-y little sports-doggie. Hmmm...maybe we should paint racing stripes down her back... did you choose your dog's name?  

Welcome to "The Shelby Show"!

100_3343 Welcome to "The Shelby Show"!

…So, 17 years after our last puppy-raising experience with the much beloved and missed Mickey and Callie (who both died in 2012 after 16+ years with us), baby Welsh Corgi Shelby came to live with us last Saturday, May 18. Here are some first-week impressions of our 13-week-old puppy.

Puppies have lots of energy! LOTS!! I had forgotten just how much. They need to go-go-go…until they crash into a nap.

A puppy has the attention span of a...

It took Shelby a mere four polite days until she decided this new planet was OK with her…and then she unleashed her Tasmanian Devil side, complete with Shelby-gator-chomping baby teeth and sharky-jaws. Now, without her five littermates as competition, she firmly believes she will rule her new world. It will take some time to convince her otherwise (which is what training is all about).

Clicker training is THE best training method I’ve ever seen in 32 years with our dogs and 16 years as a trainer.  []
We only incorporated it into Mickey and Callie’s lives when they were 11 or 12, and they loved it. I’ve
been using it with dog-training clients’ puppies (and older dogs) for the past 5 years or so, so I already knew how effective it was. But Shelby is our first puppy to be clicker-trained from Day One.

Shelby has already learned sit, down, come, “watch me,” stay, to go into her crate when asked and mastered her first trick (“Spin!”). Not all perfectly executed yet, but an amazing educational accomplishment for less than a week. And clicker training made it possible -- and fun!

A puppy has the attention span of a...

Don’t count on getting a lot of sleep when you have a 3-month-old puppy. Shelby’s excellent breeder Carolann VanWyen took the time to get these puppies accustomed to sleeping in their crates, so Shelby didn’t fuss at all from her first night on. But she needs to get up and go potty around 4 AM, so that’s my new wake-up time…for the next several weeks, anyway.

A puppy has the attention span of a...

Puppies want to chew and bite EVERYTHING!! (unless they're sleeping)

After having had the pleasure of raising three amazing Corgi puppies before Shelby, I know it takes some time to get into the comfy rhythm of a great relationship. But I had my first such “Awwwww” moment with Shelby the other day. I was sitting at the kitchen table eating lunch, when I felt something on my foot. I looked down to see Shelby had flopped herself down and made herself at home across my fuzzy shearling slippers.

100_3360 "You sure I can't nom on them a little bit..?"

Which was way better than chewing on my slippers...which she’s probably saving for next week.
Stay tuned for more "Shelby Show" reports, coming soon to this blog near you!

Why Dog Training is Really People Training


"My hoomin & I go to puppy skool and we learns together!"

...So, is shipping your dog off to "boarder" training school for two weeks useful?
Or is it like sending your car to driving school...and expecting that to make YOU a better driver?

Over 15 years as a trainer, I've had a smattering of people ask if they could send their dogs to me for training. I tell them, no, I don't have a facility for that -- and, even if I did, I would discourage that kind of training anyway. Why?

Because dog training is mostly people training.

If you want to have a happy, well-behaved dog, you have to understand your pet, learn how to teach him what you want him to know -- and teach yourself how to be your dog's positive leader (which does NOT require physical domination, choke collars or yelling).

Dogs don't "misbehave" because they're "bad" dogs, but for these three main reasons:
1) "misbehavior" (like grabbing your unattended pizza slice from the table) comes naturally to them
2) nobody taught them not to do it -- you can't blame a dog for thinking "If you're not gonna eat that, I'll eat it!"
3) their humans don't know how to train them, and don't bother to find out

Any competent professional trainer -- using a wide range of methods, some less desirable than others -- can teach a dog to listen to him. But dogs need to learn to listen to their human owners, not to a professional trainer.

So a trainer's real job isn't teaching the dogs -- it's teaching the humans how to teach their own dogs.

That only works if the humans are continually involved in the process -- which can't happen if they're sending their dogs to be trained by somebody else. Some trainers who do that kind of training require the humans to come for a few hours of work with their dogs toward the end of the program. By that time, after being drilled by professionals for weeks, these dogs are quite good at listening to commands.

So a frustrated owner, who's sent his unruly, ill-mannered dog away for two weeks, reports to the training facility -- and is amazed by how much his pooch has learned: "Wow! This was well worth the thousand bucks I paid!" The trainer then hastily teaches the human owner how to "drive" his newly-educated dog, and human and dog go home to enjoy a new and orderly life together.

So, what's wrong with this picture? The dog has been trained by a professional with years of experience and understanding of why dogs do what they do and how to get them to do something else. But the human owner doesn't have that knowledge and experience. A couple of hours of instruction can’t possibly teach someone how to consistently apply those newly-learned commands to create a predictable structure within which a dog earns what he wants by being a “good” dog.

**********************88888888 So, when inevitable glitches arise, the human owner doesn't know how to make adjustments. In short order, both human and dog fall back into old dysfunctional habits. Is it possible to send your dog off to be trained by a pro, and end up with a good long-term result? Maybe. Is it likely? I doubt it.

Because dogs take their cues from us, their human companions.   Behaviors evolve over time -- and if dogs and their humans are not partners in training, that simultaneous evolution of good behaviors and human leadership won’t occur in synch...or at all.

Dog training ain't rocket science, as the saying goes. With a little guidance from a good trainer, almost all dog owners can – and should – learn to train their own dogs. The only requirements are an open mind, some time and effort, and patience. When you and your dog learn together, you'll be creating an unshakeable bond of trust and love. And, in the end, that's a whole lot more satisfying than sending your car to driving school!


Howard Weinstein started Day-One Dog Training in Howard County, Maryland in 1998. You can reach him through He's also the author of Puppy Kisses are Good for the Soul & Other Important Lessons You& Your Dog Can Teach Each Other (available in both paperback and e-book at -- -- or


Jaunty Callie, Farewell & R.I.P.

May 1, 1996-December 13, 2012

So,'s not the absence of fear. It's forging ahead despite your fear. Our little Welsh Corgi Callie displayed that courage throughout her life.

We first fell in love with Callie because of her extraordinary powers of perception and patience. In her breeder's kitchen more than 16 years ago, we were trying to decide between Callie and one sister remaining from a litter of seven girls. Now, of course, all puppies are adorable. And Callie's sister was adorably dragging around a 3-foot-long furry-squeaky-snake toy...which Callie really wanted. So we watched as Callie watched and waited. She never made a move to steal away the prized toy. She. Just. Watched.

And when her sister got distracted (as puppies do) and dropped the toy, Callie triumphantly took possession. And Susan and I said, "We want that one." We knew she would be smart and clever and exceptional, and she never disappointed us.

CalSnake1 Baby Callie & the liberated snake

She almost didn't have a name, though: for two weeks before we went back to take her home, we came up empty. Then we stumbled across a volume on Celtic folklore in a mall bookstore, and found a moon goddess named Callie Berry. And that became our new puppy's enchanting name. Further proof of her enchantment (because she always smelled like flowers and baby powder) came when a gorgeous blue and black butterfly landed on her back one sunny summer morning.

100_1278  Callie's butterfly friend

With her big dark eyes and white face, Callie was uncommonly beautiful. She was also born shy and skittish. When she first came to live with us and our other new puppy Mickey (four months older and already ensconced as Queen of the Realm after two months with us), Callie was very timid and seemed downright depressed. Mickey claimed everything in their domain: "My Mommy, my Daddy, my toys, my noms..." Mickey even tried to reclaim her original crate, which she'd outgrown, by squeezing in alongside the new baby sister with whom she wanted to share nothing.

CalMickCrateSqueeze   Mickey: "Why can't they ALL be my crates?"

Gradually, relations warmed. One day, Callie came over and bowed her face to Mickey, who maternally and affectionately proceeded to lick Callie's eyes clean. This endearing ritual would be repeated many times over the 16 years they spent together.  

And then Callie discovered how much she loved squeaky toys. She'd happily march around the house with a toy in her mouth, making "Callie music" -- which always made us laugh.

CalSquirrel   "I take long as it's squeaky!"

But Callie's shyness with other dogs and new people made us concerned for the limitations it would place her life. Over time, with training (at which Callie excelled) and treats (an appetite which never flagged), we were able to take advantage of everyday situations to help her conquer her skittishness. When our morning walks took us past the elementary-school bus stop, the kids would flock to our cute dogs. Mickey would wade in to be petted by as many kids as possible. Callie would creep off to the side, but a couple of the kids gravitated to "the shy one."  And with each pleasant encounter, Callie's confidence grew.

Later, we were invited to visit Howard Community College's Kids on Campus summer camp program, for a fun class called Pets & Vets. A dozen 8-10-year-old kids would be ready and waiting to ask questions, pet the dog, laugh at her tricks -- and knowing Mickey would soak up the love and attention, we first took her without Callie. We didn't really think Callie would enjoy the intensity. We were wrong -- as Callie proved when we experimentally took them to camp together. Then, one hot day, Mickey decided she no longer enjoyed her visits, so she retired and Callie took over as a solo act -- overcoming her fears and having a wonderful time.

CallieCollege1.2008   Professor Callie and her camp kids

We had to say farewell to gallant Callie this week at the advanced age of 16 years and 7 months. She's crossed that Rainbow Bridge with her refreshed puppy bounce, and I know Mickey is there for her, waiting to lick her eyes and show her around. We miss them both more than we can say.

Except for two hollow weeks in May 1996, between Annie's passing and Mickey's arrival, Welsh Corgis have been my companions for 31 consecutive years. We have reminders of our three amazing dogs all over the house, which now seems empty and sad. The best way to celebrate Annie, Mickey and Callie -- and thank them for all the joy they gave us and all the lessons they taught us -- is to get another Corgi puppy. And that can't happen too soon for me.

Pets often turn out to be the best of what we would like to be. Annie was the personification (dogification?) of confidence and wisdom; Mickey, sweetness and love; and Callie, curiosity and courage.  

Callie Berry, our jaunty and brave little friend, thank you for the honor of your company.


"Doc, I doesn't feel so good. You fix?"

...So, what would you do if your dog (or other pet) gets sick or injured when your own vet's office is closed?

The past two evenings, I happened to get panicky calls from folks who'd been part of my most recent puppy class. Both had puppies with sudden, alarming medical symptoms: repeated vomiting for one, disorientation and loss of balance for the other. Both asked my advice. I told both the same thing (probably confirming what they already knew): "Get your puppy to the emergency vet!"

The causes of the symptoms they described could have been nothing serious -- or they could have been life-threatening. Fortunately, in these cases, both puppies were OK. 

Just like kids, pets have a knack for needing emergency care overnight or on weekends.
Wherever you live, do yourself and your pet a favor, look up your nearest ER vet clinic -- before you need it -- and keep that info handy.

We actually have three emergency vet clinics in and around my territory of Howard County, Maryland. If you live in this vicinity, please put this information where you can find it easily -- it could save your pet’s life!

1- Emergency Animal Hospital, 10270 Baltimore National Pike (Route 40 West), Ellicott City, MD 21042; (410) 750-1177; open weekends, holidays and nights 7PM-7AM -

2- Emergency Veterinary Clinic, 32 Mellor Avenue, Catonsville MD 21228; (410) 788-7040; open 24 hours, 7 days -

3- Anne Arundel Veterinary Emergency Clinic, 808 Bestgate Road, Suite 111, Annapolis, MD 21401; (410) 224-0331; open 24 hours, 7 days -

Howard Weinstein started Day-One Dog Training in Howard County, Maryland in 1998. You can reach him through He's also the author of Puppy Kisses are Good for the Soul & Other Important Lessons You & Your Dog Can Teach Each Other (available in both paperback and e-book at -- --



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