Hi, Mr. Dogcharmer,
We just got an 8-week-old Cardigan Welsh corgi puppy. Any suggestions? Eight weeks was a lot younger than we thought, and we need direction.
Daisy and Floyd
Dear Floyd and Daisy,
First, let me congratulate you on your new family addition, and second, tell you why this is going to be a tough one. Why tough? Because he just looks too cute to ever tell him “No.” So what you’re asking about is laying the foundation for transforming an 8-week-old “egg for brain” into a well-mannered, cooperative adult. What immediately comes to mind are three basic categories that need to be addressed.
The first is housebreaking. Even if he loads the dishwasher, takes out the garbage, and does your kid’s homework, but still poops or pees in the house, it’s no good! Feed him three times a day till he’s about 16 weeks, then twice a day. Lose the middle meal. He’s got about 20 minutes to eat, or he misses the meal. If his eating times are reasonably consistent, you’ll get a quick handle on when he has to make in relation to when he eats.
Dogs have a “den instinct”; they don’t like to make where they eat, just like you don’t like to have your meals served in the bathroom. Teach him to love his crate, with meals and treats and his bed in there; it’s his sanctuary, his den. Never a punishment. The dog that soils the den and lies in it is where the expression “dirty dog” comes from. The crate’s in a confined area, using a gate or X-pen. Perhaps, until he can hold it all night, a p-pad off to the side with the crate door open so he can keep his den clean. Or closed door and take him out when he whimpers, “I gotta go!”
Then back in crate, not in your bed. (If need be, to remove a privilege once given can be real hard. Cuddle all you want, but I’d suggest he be disallowed from going on furniture till he’s a gentleman, then where and when on your terms.) When outside, the instant he finishes relieving himself, praise him with a treat, every time. When indoors, if he’s not in the crate, he’s being supervised. Period. If he can’t be watched, he’s in the crate with good toys. Use an odor neutralizer for mistakes. Every time he has a mistake, it’s a step backward. Supervise! If he starts to sniff a lot, he’s looking for a spot to pee.
Category 2 — socialize! The most stable dog is afraid of nothing, so if he’s exposed to everything and nothing bites him, his attitude becomes “Been there, done that, seen that, no big deal!” That’s what you want! Main Street and 18-wheelers don’t scare him, and dogs and squirrels don’t faze him.
Category 3 — separation anxiety. Avoid it. Even in John Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley,” Charley couldn’t come into restaurants with Steinbeck. Leave the pup alone with “special treats,” treats he only gets when he’s left alone, removed when you’re home. No long, kissy goodbyes. No big greeting when you get home. A brief “Hi pup” and go put on a cup of tea. Then greet him calmly a couple minutes later. Take the emotion out of coming and going — no big deal. I’m not the Dr. Spock of infant puppies, but if he’s as easy and cooperative as he is cute, he’ll make Lassie look like a junkyard dog. Kudos to the picture taker, J.C. Burke. Best of luck,
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