We are first-time puppy parents bringing home our little bundle of joy tomorrow! I would love to hear any and all of your best advice on raising a happy and health Corgi pup. Thanks in advance!
More specifically, what's the ONE thing that you wished you would have known when you were raising your first puppy?
I'm doing so much research on everything from housebreaking and crate training to developmental behavior and puppy food brands that I'm definitely becoming overwhelmed! Help me stay focused with your best words of Corgi Pup Wisdom :D
Congratulations! Make sure you read the FAQ's and do a search for any issues that you are wondering about. Take pictures and post frequently. Support the corgi puppy addiction of your fellow users.
No.1 thing I wish I had known: It's perfectly normal to feel utterly and completely overwhelmed, to the point of approaching a nervous breakdown. I thought I was going bananas and did not believe for one second that other puppy owners must have gone through the same thing. Ace was so distant, and so impossibly stubborn, that I was ready to throw in the towel many times over.
You are not alone! If EVER you feel that sense of rising panic/stress, come talk to us on the site chat. Chances are that someone is awake and at their PC and can share your puppy-rearing woes. :-) It is a huge relief once you realize that almost everyone else who's had a pup has travelled the same path as you.
Yeah, as someone who had no choice but to get a puppy past that critical socialization period... believe me, every day can be a struggle. I continue to try valiantly to desensitize Ace but all it takes is one kid creating eye contact to make him wilt.
Yep. Herding dogs are by design very aware of anything "different" and if they are not exposed as puppies to a wide variety of people behaving in all different ways, every little thing can make them suspicious.
We socialized Jack within an inch of his life and he just thinks his job is to go out and play a one-dog welcoming committee to all and sundry.
This is a pretty broad question but: how did you socialize him? I've been reading up on the subject as if my life depended on it because I'm getting a BC from working lines, and I know just how suspicious they can get of anything out of the "ordinary". The last thing I want is an exaggerated version of Ace around strangers and kids.
There is some conflicting information on how best to introduce your puppy to other people. Some recommend giving the stranger a morsel of food to hand to the puppy, some say no food at all, some say to encourage the dog to go sniff the stranger... and still others say that the dog should just acknowledge, but not approach the stranger. All have their merits to back them up (i.e., a dog who thinks humans = cookie machines may end up getting very distracted by strangers) so I am getting a bit nervous about the whole thing.
I would only recommend food for a dog who is already shy or frightened of people. As for just acknowledging but not approaching, that would be more for adult dogs I would think. We started with a bold outgoing pup from a breeder who had already started socializing the litter, so it was pretty easy. He WANTED to meet people. We live near a park and basically we'd take him out and anytime someone smiled at the puppy, I would say "Would you like to pet the puppy? We're socializing him." That still gave people the option to say "no" but sort of encouraged them to play with him because I put it in a way that made them feel they were being helpful (which they were).
I honestly don't expect manners from a baby puppy. I warned people that he was still very young and might nip or jump. And then I just let people's natural love of cute furry puppies take over. I made sure we met children of all ages, adults of both sexes, people with facial hair, people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds. People with canes, people of all ages. The only thing we struggled with a bit were wheeled things (bikes, strollers, etc). I did have to use some food rewards to get him over that hump, and then when he realized that children actually detached themselves from those things he became ok with it, though he still sometimes startles if the wheels move.
The other thing is, honestly I intentionally did NOT instruct people to handle him in a certain way. I let people loom over him, kids squeal at him, people pet his head or pat him or rub him the wrong way. I just watched him carefully for signs of stress. Dogs who are only exposed to people who approach them in the "right" ways are often startled by people who come at them abruptly later on. As a result, I have a dog who does not by nature really like being petted and abhors being hugged or squeezed, who can and does tolerate bear hugs from children and head-kisses from strangers. If I do any of that he grumbles and runs backwards, but he just thinks that his job with strangers and especially children is to tolerate whatever they do, and he knows I'll come to his rescue and get him out if he gives any stress signals at all (look-aways, eye-rolls, tongue-flicks).
He must totally not understand, therefore, why I ignore his desperate pleas for help when we are at the vet....
Alright, thank you so much. I've had to use such a peculiar approach when I was desensitizing Ace. He wasn't quite a "clean slate" puppy, but he wasn't an adult either, so I had to use a little bit of everything. That was compounded by his fearfulness, so in the end I had this hodgepodge of techniques that worked. But this time around, I'll be starting totally fresh, so I love hearing what worked for you.
When Jack was telling you that he was stressed, how did you defuse the situation? I've gotten pretty good at reading Ace's various signals, and I'm sure I'll pick up on the BC's in time, but I don't want to be overly cautious.
I wish I had known that it is very much like having a newborn baby for the first few weeks. Watching her every second unless crated and getting up at night to let her pee. Well worth it though! Ejoy and post pics!!
That puppy classes are more about training ME than the dog. We waited a while with our first dog because we thought "oh he's so smart, he doesn't need that!" but a lot of the frustrating issues I had would have been solved earlier if we had just gone to the class.