"Help! My Puppy-Monster Just Ate My Last Nerve..."

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"Even Puppy-Monsters needz napz..."

...So, pretty much everyone who gets a puppy reaches this point. Usually within the first two weeks. You either look in the mirror, or at a family member across the table. And you say: "What the HELL were we thinking?!?" Even professional dog trainers have those moments.

Puppies have boundless energy. They are incredibly adorable, winsome and charming. But a puppy is also a tiny T-Rex crossed with a Tasmanian Devil, wielding a mouthful of needle-sharp teeth that can rend flesh and garments, and destroy pretty much any object they sink into (including but not limited to walls, rugs and furniture).

Raising and training a puppy takes patience. Lots of patience. Believe me, I have at times been impatient with our puppy Shelby, too. It's a sometimes-frustrating "2-steps-forward-1-back" process. Expect progress, not perfection.

When your puppy (or older dog) starts to get to you and that last nerve is about to shred, try these six strategies:

1- Take a deep breath -- and a break. One family member gets to go do something else for a little bit, while another tends to the Puppy-Monster. Be a tag-team where you're not both in the ring at the same time.

2- Engage Puppy-Monster in structured fetch or tug games that channel and burn puppy energy. With trial and error, you'll figure out what works.

3- Buy some sturdy treat-dispensing toys. There are many variations available. For dogs that love food, these can be a great way to keep them busy and teach them to entertain themselves. Becoming more self-reliant is a skill puppies learn with time -- but a baby Puppy-Monster starts out believing YOU MUST entertain her at all times, according to her whim.

4- Take her out for a walk -- another way to burn off extra puppy energy, let her explore the world and be with you.

5- Learn clicker training. With a little practice, it's easy, fun -- and the best, most effective training method I've ever found in my 34 years with my own dogs and 17 years as a trainer. It can help dogs (of any age) learn things twice as fast!

6- Do a 10-minute training session -- run through obedience stuff and tricks she already knows, plus some new things. This exercises her brain and directs her energy into training games where her object will be to get you to give her clicks and treats -- and she can only do that by doing the things you're teaching her and then asking her to do.

It takes time to get into a rhythm and build a balanced relationship with any puppy. But puppies are typically bright and attentive, and almost always amaze us with how quickly they learn things. Never forget that basic obedience training forms the foundation of that strong relationship.

The first month is the hardest. It DOES get easier with time. As puppies learn more, we get better and better at teaching them and managing even the most annoying Puppy-Monster behaviors.

Visit Dayonedogtraining.com, or contact Howard Weinstein at info@dayonedog.com

THE SHELBY SHOW: Two Short Birthday Videos

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Shelby sez: "I am...SNEAKY SNAKE!"

In honor of celebrating our Corgi puppy Shelby's second birthday, Shelby wanted us to share her two recent short videos. Both videos are rated RC-S (Really Cute & Silly).

Disclaimer: No blankies were harmed (any more than they already were) during the production of these adventures.

The first is "SNEAKY-SNAKE POUNCES!" -- starring Shelby as Sneaky-Snake...

The second is "BLANKIE ATTACK!" -- starring Shelby as The Creature from the Cute Lagoon...

THE SHELBY SHOW: Two Years Old...and Not Quite All Grown Up

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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.

Puppy Training: To Crate, or Not to Crate...

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 Dayonedogtraining.com:  http://goo.gl/nAUWTq

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Visit Maryland dog trainer and writer Howard Weinstein at Dayonedogtraining.com

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!


Contact us at dayonedogtraining.com.
at amazon.com.

THE SHELBY SHOW: What Does a Corgi Puppy Have in Common with Indiana Jones?

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 http://dayonedogtraining.com. 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 Amazon.com -- http://tinyurl.com/9rah6kg -- or http://dayonedogtraining.com).



THE SHELBY SHOW: Shelby Discovers Door Twangers! (video)

"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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeETnq_zBF0)

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...

So...how 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.  [http://puppykissesblog.livejournal.com/9047.html]
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!