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Shelby sez: "Why, yes! I did take the wicker cabinet apart!
Now you can see in without opening the door!"


...So, our cute little Welsh Corgi Shelby just celebrated her second birthday. According to the books, this means she's graduated from puppy to grown-up dog. Shelby, however, has other ideas.

I'd intended to write more about her puppyhood over the past year. But, honestly, she's been (and continues to be) way more of a handful than I'd expected. I really thought my 17 years as a professional dog trainer prepared me for pretty much anything Shelby might throw at me. Again, Shelby had other ideas.

She's the fifth puppy I've raised. But she's the first solo puppy. My first Corgi Annie grew up with her Collie brother Hawkeye. After Annie, we got 4-month-old Mickey and then added baby Callie two months later. Now that we've survived two years with only-puppy Shelby, I think I underestimated how much Annie and Hawkeye, and Mickey and Callie, kept each other busy -- and tired each other out!

Shelby's had only her humans to keep her entertained. Unfortunately, lots of other tasks compete for our time, and we have much less energy than we had 17 years ago! So I fear we've done an inadequate job keeping her occupied and burning off her boundless puppy-energy reserves. I'm pretty sure this has contributed to Shelby's being the most destructive puppy I've ever had in my 34 years with dogs.

I’ve wondered if we should've gotten two puppies, as we did with Mickey and Callie. We chose not to, for two main reasons: the ever-rising expense (of buying a purebred puppy, and paying double vet bills); and we didn't think we had the energy. Now I think maybe having two puppies at the same time is not necessarily more work than having one. Different work, but maybe not more.

Looking back at what I wrote a year ago on Shelby’s first birthday... in addition to her quickly mastering her basic-obedience stuff, she's learned quite a few advanced tricks and games (clicker training still helps). She continues to do her lovely interpretive dances-with-toys. She's still incredibly social with other dogs and looks forward to running into her many pals on our walks.

Though her initial reaction to new people is still a lot of barking, once she knows them they’re all BFFs. She still loves kids, ranging from little ones up to teenage neighbors and extended family. She fell in love with our teen nephew Sam when the Iowa family brigade visited Maryland for Thanksgiving 2013, and happily stayed by Sam's side most of the day.

Life with a puppy is often two steps forward, one back. For instance: we used clicker training to overcome her freak-out fear of the vacuum cleaner. Now I can vacuum with Shelby in the same room, and while she may not be happy, she is quiet. But I spoke too soon a year ago about her not destroying furniture or shredding the carpet -- she has attempted to peel up the living room carpeting, and dismantled a wicker kitchen cabinet in the middle of the night last week. (See her "handiwork" in the photo above.)

As I often tell people who lament that their new puppy ain't like the old one, they're all different. And our experiences with a challenging puppy have made me even more sympathetic to the frustrations and struggles of my training clients.

Shelby still has some growing up to do. She keeps reminding me not to let my guard down. Still, as long as endearing outweighs exasperating, we’re doing OK.

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Contact Howard Weinstein at http://dayonedogtraining.com/ and check out his book Puppy Kisses Are Good for the Soul in paperback and e-book at Amazon.com.