VIDEO: Crate training and training in general

This blog has been around for a few years now, yet I have never covered crate training.  Why? Mainly because there are a lot of good video’s out there on the subject and there wasn’t a huge demand.  With 11 new pups in homes and several people emailing me with questions on barking, howling at night, etc I thought maybe it was a good time to a small video on crating.

Some things to note.

For the next few months of your puppies life, they should get a treat for going into their crate.  Every… single… time!  It can be a hard treat that they must crunch up and eat or it can be a few softer treats.  Also acceptable are treat ball toys, food puzzle toys, a meal, pigs ear, hard bone, etc.  If you ask them to go into the crate even for 1 minute they should get a treat.

There are 4 times your dog should get treats.

  1. When the dog is crated.
  2. When the dog is tethered.
  3. When the dog is on a place mat.
  4. When the dog is training.

At no other time should you give a puppy food.  Unless you are actively engaging that dogs mind or attempting to socialize him into enjoying a situation, he gets no treats.

BUT… when are you training?  Training can include asking the dog to go potty and they do so they get a “TREAT”.  Calling the dog over while it is playing and thus leaving a great fun place to come be with you “TREAT”.  Sitting quietly while you cook dinner “TREAT”.   Each situation is training, because you are rewarding the dog for doing something you like.  Reward what you like and you will get more of those things.

When should you not treat?  If the dog is barking.  If the dog runs over and bumps into you or jumps up on you.  If the dog is out of control in any way.  If the dog is demanding something from you, like pawing you to get you to give him something.  You can turn your back and ignore the wrong behavior or you can give them a sign that is not desirable.  I use “AHH”  or “wrong” or some audible sound to let them know that is not something I enjoy (like popping the top of the crate in the video and saying “Quiet!” when they are barking. ) Sometimes the dog needs a clue what exactly they are doing wrong.  Yes you can get the desired results from removing the dog and yourself from a situation, but it takes longer to see results because the dog will have to think harder to figure out what it is doing to make you just go away.

Put yourself in the dogs shoes, think about learning a new language.  What is the quickest way to learn?  You will learn best if you have a clear understanding of “YES” and “NO”.  So, teach your dog what yes means and also teach the dog what no means.  Otherwise they will have to figure out what exactly caused you to go away.

Example:  Dog is in the crate.  It is sitting and howling.  You leave the room.  The dog has to first understand you left because they were doing something wrong.  Which thing was wrong?   Sitting or howling?

If you are constantly rewarding sit, they will learn that is something you like.  How do you teach them howling is not something you like.  If they are crated, you can pop the top of the crate and say “HUSH”.  Or you can cover the crate with a blanket and say “QUIET”.  The act of covering the crate will be interesting and likely make them stop for a minute, then you can tell them ‘good job’ and treat them for quiet.  There is nothing wrong with teaching your dog what “WRONG” or “NO” or “AHH” means and why they should respect that word.  Push them in the shoulder and say “Quiet”.  Interrupt the behavior.  Do not hurt them.  Do not frighten them.  Simply let them know you do not like it when they howl, it is not acceptable behavior.

Dog training is not easy, because our dogs are watching us constantly.  They see when we are not consistent.  They note when they can get away with something.  They are very much like a toddler, noting everything you do and finding the best time to test how serious we are about that specific rule.   If you pay extra attention to your puppy now and for the next few months, it will pay off 100 fold in the years to come.


Jill - January 31, 2014 - 1:20 pm

Thanks Becky! This was great again. Do you feed all their meals in the crate too? I have a big play pen set up to separate Mel from the kids. (Sometimes I think they drive her crazy!) She will play in there when I can’t watch her closely, and I have been feeding her there too.

Also, Mel gets really nippy and jumpy with the kids and the baby especially. I have just been telling her No, and then putting her in the play pen to calm down. It isn’t always Mel’s fault because my kids get her so worked up. What is the best way to handle this. I’m trying to teach my kids how to be gentle, but they are very loud and like to run and pick her up.

A trick series would be so much fun! We have been working on sit, stay, up, down, and speak with Mel. She picks it up fast!

Thanks for everything!

Douglas UPDATE! (River and Zelda Litter)

I love hearing from puppy owners.  Pamela has Douglas and they live down in San Antonio.  This lovely boy is from the last litter born here in our home… over 2 years ago!  My how times flies.


From Pamela:


Douglas wants you to know that he turned two years old on Jan. 18th.
One can certainly say he takes after his dad River and his loving
mother Zelda.  I love your blogs and study them time and time again.
Please continue your magnificent work.  Your studies are unparalleled
and your breeding practices are unequaled!  You are, quite simply, the best.
Such a sweet update.   She tells me his health is excellent.  One ear infection, which they nipped in the bud and all is well.   So far so good!  I need to ask her who her groomer is for those of you down that way.  That topknot is really nice!!


Lisa Garza - February 2, 2014 - 12:37 pm

What a gorgeous boy!

Ziva has been bred!

Success!!  Kelsey and Gloria braved the horrible icy weather to pick up Mr. Jordan on Saturday.  He is enjoying his time at Tintlet, there so many lovely ladies between the two homes of Gloria and Kelsey!  I imagine he is not happy about being limited to just one girly.  In any case, yesterday the happy couple were successful in their endeavors!!  All that is left is the waiting.   Puppies will be due the last week of March, ready for homes the 4th week in May.   I will be driving to North Carolina around the 18th of May to pick up all the pups not kept by Kelsey for their breeding program.  I’m excited, it has been over a year since my trip to their home.  The mountains are beautiful and you can’t beat the hospitality!!

For information on this litter, read this blog post: ZIVA IS IN SEASON, then contact me with any questions or to request an application.  I have a fair number of people interested in this litter, but it is much better to have your name in the hat than to miss out.  Often people decide the timing is not right and I have to move on down the list.

Kelsey and I were talking last night.  It is a good thing I am not there or I might want to keep Jordan.  She said he is my kind of dog, a pleasure to have visiting.

The Jazz and River babies are now all in their new homes!  Sonata left for Dallas on Saturday and I think his family is very pleased.  It is so quiet, with only two adult Standards and one Mini girl.  The furniture has all returned to it’s normal locations.  The whelping box and puppy bedding is packed away in the storage shed.  I feel like I have loads of time, which is why Jazz and I start a nosework class down at Austin Canine Central next week!  I’ll let everyone know what I think as we progress.


Marlane - January 28, 2014 - 2:29 pm

Congrats Ziva and Jordan….now the hard part – the waiting – begins.
Becky, I know you’re glad to have a break, however short, but then…you deserve it. Whelping puppies and readying them for new homes the way you do it is HARD WORK!
Thank you for all the blog updates….first thing I look for when I walk through the door :)

Jazz Lure Coursing Photos

There was a nice lady taking photos of the CAT this past weekend.  For a donation to the club, she would email you the photos she took.  I jumped all over the offer!  Here are a few of the best photos.


Sandy Tate - January 25, 2014 - 11:40 am

What a happy, happy dog! She loved doing that!

Jennifer - January 25, 2014 - 1:06 pm

Really cute pictures! Poodles have so much energy and it’s great to see them running around. Candy, my red toy poodle, likes nothing more than to spend several hours at a park running. When I first got her I expected her to get tired of running around so much. But after several hours she was still going strong, so now we go to the park almost every day.

Lisa Garza - January 26, 2014 - 9:26 pm

What a gorgeous dog! And excellent photography, too!

VIDEO: Puppy Class and Training

With all but one of the pups in their new homes, I felt it was time to make a post about puppy class.  You each you should be looking around for a suitable class for your new baby.  Not all puppy classes are created equal.  If you locate a training center near you, please drop in on a puppy class and see exactly what they do as far as training.  If they do not have a class going, speak to the instructor to get an idea of what you will learn in their class.  What should you be looking for in a puppy class?

The class should be structured, a basic obedience class with more breaks (breaks to pee, breaks to play with YOU, etc).  It should not be a free for all puppy play date.  You can arrange play dates with other family, friends, or people I suggest as ‘safe’, but do not go to class looking for an hour of puppy play time.   Class is the first step to having a well trained dog who understand how to focus on you and not the dogs and people around their environment.   If 6- 8 weeks is spent letting the puppy play with classmates, you will spend the next 6 months correcting the dog for not paying attention to you in class or on walks.  These next few months are the sweet spot for training.  You will never have a more eager to learn dog than these first few months.  USE IT!!  Teach them as much as you can think of while they are little sponges.   Before they hit teenager and blow you off.  Before they learn bad habits.  Your new puppy should be able to get SIT, DOWN, STAY, COME, HEEL within a few short days.  After that you can teach subtler things like WAIT and PLACE.  That is right… days.  If you are consistent and take 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening every single day, you will have a star.  When you go to class, you can focus on getting your puppy to focus!  They will know the behaviors so you can use the class to show them “yes, you have to sit here, around all these dogs and people, and be quiet”.   There are some classes which are ‘half and half’ style, where you learn obedience and then have play time.  This can be a good training tool, depending on how the instructor uses the time.  Are they knowledgeable in dog behavior and body language?  Are the pups in their class having a good time or is one getting picked on?  Are the owners encouraged to let the pups play then leash up and go back to training to teach the puppies to refocus and know when play time is done?  It takes a real experienced trainer to allow ‘play time’ and not leave you with more baggage and bad habits than when you started class.   My dogs have never been to a ‘puppy play’ class and they are all good with other dogs.  I just socialize them with friends, family, neighbors and call it done.  When we are out in the world (local park, dog shows, pet supply stores, etc) they are not there to play with dogs, they are there to be with me, and they should be focusing on what we are doing, not what the Golden over the hill is doing with his family.

Below is a training video of Sonata.  This is his second training session.  He is 9 weeks old.  Let’s see what he can do in about 10 minutes of training.

So, you can see here why a ‘puppy play’ class would be a waste of your Poodle’s potential.  These pups are calm, focused, and can become amazing creatures with a small fraction of your time and energy.  You spent months researching what type of dog, and where to get it.  I have given your baby a great start.  Now keep up my work and put in the time to grow a family dog we all can be proud of.


  1. Find out what snack your puppy loves
  2. Teach your puppy to play with you.  Tug and Fetch are both great.  Do not expect your puppy to simply know how to interact with you.  You must teach him.
  3. Get your puppy doing both SIT and DOWN.  Anytime you see your puppy sitting or downing tell them what they are doing right  “GOOD SIT” and walk over to pet them for being so smart.
  4. You can teach this all on the tether first to keep a silly distracted puppy from wandering off.  I would rather you not hold the leash, but tie it to something.  I want you focusing on food rewards in one hand, guiding the puppy with the other.  Trying to hold a leash makes that complicated.  I do it off leash, but I am experienced.   Do not feel bad if you first teach these things to a tethered puppy.


Jill - January 21, 2014 - 7:22 pm

Great post! This is just what we need right now. We have been working on these things with Melody. She is so smart!

Heather Pressgrove - January 21, 2014 - 9:36 pm

Thanks for this post! We have been working on heel during our walks (he picked that up fast!), sit, down, and a little come. He’s learning fairly quickly even though I’m so inexperienced. :)

Rachel - January 22, 2014 - 12:07 pm

When we brought Hugo home (almost 2 years ago – Wow), he was sitting on command like a champion thanks to you. He made it through his classes very well. We still have to do refreshers to keep it going. One thing that came from being with you is that whenever he finds himself uncertain of what we want from him or in a new unfamiliar situation, he sits and looks at us like “okay, now what?”.


Heather Pressgrove - January 25, 2014 - 11:29 am

Have you done a video on “come”? I would love to see your method for teaching that important command.

Becky - January 25, 2014 - 12:31 pm

Heather, here is the video I did several years ago when Jazz was a pup. This is how I start “COME”