Researching your breed and finding a breeder are only two aspects of the “homework” you will have to do before bringing your Pembroke puppy home. You will also have to prepare your home and family for the new addition. Much like you would prepare a nursery for a newborn baby, you will need to designate a place in your home that will be the puppy’s own.
Preparing Your Puppy’s Place In Your Home
How you prepare your home will depend on how much freedom the dog will be allowed: will he be confined to one room or a specific area in the house, or will he be allowed to roam as he pleases? Will he spend most of his time in the house or will he be an outdoor dog some of the time? Whatever you decide, you must ensure that he has a place that he can call his own.
When you bring your new puppy into your home, you are bringing him into what will become his home as well. Obviously, you did not buy a puppy so that he could take control of your home, but in order for a puppy to grow into a stable, well-adjusted dog, he has to feel comfortable in his surroundings. Remember, he is leaving the warmth and security of his mother and littermates, plus the familiarity of the only place he has ever known, so it is important to make his transition as easy as possible. By preparing a place in your home for the puppy, you are making him feel as welcome as possible in a strange new place. It should not take him long to get used to it, but the sudden shock of being transplanted is somewhat traumatic for a young pup. Imagine how a small child would feel in the same situation — that is how your puppy must be feeling. It is up to you to reassure him and to let him know, “Little fellow, you are going to like it here!”
What You Should Buy
To someone unfamiliar with the use of crates in dog training, it may seem like punishment to shut a dog in a crate, but this is not the case at all. More and more breeders and trainers around the world are recommending crates as preferred tools for both show puppies and pet puppies. Crates are not cruel—crates have many humane and highly effective uses in dog care and training. For example, crate-training is a very popular and very successful housebreaking method, a crate can keep your dog safe during travel and, perhaps most importantly, a crate provides your dog with a place of his own in your home. It serves as a “doggie bedroom” of sorts—your Pembroke can curl up in his crate when he wants to sleep or when he just needs a break. Many dogs sleep in their crates overnight. With soft bedding and his favorite toy, a crate becomes a cozy pseudoden for your dog. Like his ancestors, he too will seek out the comfort and retreat of a den— you just happen to be providing him with something a little more luxurious than what his early ancestors enjoyed.
As far as purchasing a crate, the type that you buy is up to you. It will most likely be one of the two most popular types: wire or fiberglass. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type. For example, a wire crate is more open, allowing the air to flow through and affording the dog a view of what is going on around him, while a fiberglass crate is sturdier. Both can double as travel crates, providing protection for the dog in the car. The size of the crate is another thing to consider. Puppies do not stay puppies forever—in fact, sometimes it seems as if they grow right before your eyes. A small-sized crate may be fine for a very young Pembroke pup, but it will not do him much good for long. Unless you have the money and the inclination to buy a new crate with every growth spurt, it is better to buy one that will accommodate your dog both as a pup and at full size. A mediumsized crate will be necessary for a fully-grown Pembroke; keep in mind his body length, not just his height, when purchasing an amply-sized crate.
A soft crate pad in the dog’s crate will help the dog feel more at home, and you may also like to put in a small blanket. These things will take the place of the leaves, twigs, etc., that the pup would use in the wild to make a den; the pup can make his own “burrow” in the crate. Although your pup is far removed from his den-making ancestors, the denning instinct is still a part of his genetic makeup. Second, until you take your pup home, he has been sleeping amid the warmth of his mother and littermates, and while a blanket is not the same as a warm, breathing body, it still provides heat and something with which to snuggle. You will want to wash your pup’s bedding frequently in case he has an accident in his crate, and replace or remove any blanket or padding that becomes ragged and starts to fall apart.
Toys are a must for dogs of all ages, especially for curious playful pups. Puppies are the “children” of the dog world, and what child does not love toys? Chew toys provide enjoyment for both dog and owner—your dog will enjoy playing with his favorite toys, while you will enjoy the fact that they distract him from your expensive shoes and leather sofa. Puppies love to chew; in fact, chewing is a physical need for pups as they are teething, and everything looks appetizing! The full range of your possessions—from old dish rag to Oriental carpet—are fair game in the eyes of a teething pup. Puppies are not all that finding something literally to “sink their teeth into”—everything tastes great!
Pembroke puppies are fairly aggressive chewers and only the strongest, most durable toys should be offered to them. Breeders advise owners to resist stuffed toys, because they can become de-stuffed in no time. The overly excited pup may ingest the stuffing, which is neither nutritious nor digestible.
Similarly, squeaky toys are quite popular, but must be avoided for the Pembroke. Perhaps a squeaky toy can be used as an aid in training, but not for free play. If a pup “disembowels” one of these, the small plastic squeaker inside can be dangerous if swallowed. Monitor the condition of all your pup’s toys carefully and get rid of any that have been chewed to the point of becoming potentially dangerous.
Be careful of natural bones, which have a tendency to splinter into sharp, dangerous pieces. Also be careful of rawhide, which can turn into pieces that are easy to swallow and become a mushy mess on your carpet. Best are the multi-flavored bones made of materials meant for hours of chewing and that do not break off into dangerous small pieces. These come in a variety of flavors that appeal to dogs: liver, chicken, bacon, etc.
A nylon lead is probably the best option, as it is the most resistant to puppy teeth should your pup take a liking to chewing on his lead. Of course, this is a habit that should be nipped in the bud, but, if your pup likes to chew on his lead, he has a very slim chance of being able to chew through the strong nylon. Nylon leads are also lightweight, which is good for a young Pembroke who is just getting used to the idea of walking on a lead. For everyday walking and safety purposes, the nylon lead is a good choice.
As your pup grows up and gets used to walking on the lead, and can do it politely, you may want to purchase a flexible lead. This type of lead allows you to extend the length to give the dog a broader area to explore or to shorten the length to keep the dog near you. Some owners like to use nylon harnesses for routine walks, feeling that they are more comfortable for their dogs.
Your pup should get used to wearing a collar all the time since you will want to attach his ID tags to it. Plus, you have to attach the lead to something! A lightweight nylon collar is a good choice; make sure that it fits snugly enough so that the pup cannot wriggle out of it, but is loose enough so that it will not be uncomfortably tight around the pup’s neck. You should be able to fit a finger between the pup and the collar, and check it every day! It may take some time for your pup to get used to wearing the collar, but soon he will not even notice that it is there. Choke collars are made for training, but should only be used by those who know exactly how to use them.
Food And Water Bowels
Your pup will need two bowls, one for food and one for water. You may want two sets of bowls, one for inside and one for outside, depending on where the dog will be fed and where he will be spending time. Stainless steel or sturdy plastic bowls are popular choices. Plastic bowls are more chewable, but dogs tend not to chew on the steel variety, which can be sterilized. It is important to buy sturdy bowls since anything is in danger of being chewed by puppy teeth and you do not want your dog to be constantly chewing apart his bowl (for his safety and for your wallet!).
Until a pup is house-trained you will be doing a lot of cleaning. Accidents will occur, which is acceptable in the beginning because the puppy does not know any better. All you can do is be prepared to clean up any accidents. Old rags, towels, newspapers and a safe disinfectant are good to have on hand.
Beyond The Basics
The items previously discussed are the bare necessities. You will find out what else you need as you go along—grooming supplies, flea/tick protection, baby gates to partition a room, etc. These things will vary depending on your situation, but it is important that right away you have everything you need to feed and make your Pembroke comfortable in his first few days at home.
Excerpts from Comprehensive Owner’s Guide: Pembroke Welsh Corgi