The Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America

PANDEMIC PUPPIES



AKC GAZETTE March 2021
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column


Dateline February 2020: A litter of Cardigan puppies is born, and the cycle of life in a dog show home begins. Most of us have done this a few times and are well prepared for the typical journey from the whelping box to the show ring. Then along comes this awful Covid pandemic, and suddenly the rules, and in fact the entire process, have changed dramatically.

The first six weeks weren’t too different, with sweet little pups curling up to mom, waiting for eyes to open, first steps, and tons of cuteness. Now it is time to make a visit to the veterinarian for our first exam and vaccines. Suddenly you have to phone in when you arrive, and wait in your car so a masked tech can take in your babies for exam by the veterinarian without you being present. You pay for your visit via your cell phone, and off you go. Gone is the personal relationship you once had with your vet. You may get a phone call, but you can’t discuss specific details with them like you use to. 

Socialization is crucial to Cardigan puppies’ proper mental development. Exposure to multiple settings and social situations can make a world of difference in the temperament. Even prior to COVID, we have seen young dogs who do not want you to touch them, let alone perform in the obedience, agility, and conformation rings. One has to nurture a Cardigan pup to obtain that happy attitude we all strive to obtain.

The days of packing up the kids and heading to Lowe’s for a trip around the store with the pups in the shopping cart may be over. You stopped by nearly every visitor and fielded the typical group of questions, while the pups are petted and hugged by dozens of adoring onlookers. If you do this now, you can expect many to just admire from a masked distance, or even be ignored altogether. The big-box pet store chains aren’t much different, as are the other places where canines and humans could once mingle and exchange licks and hugs openly.

As the puppies need exercise and exposure on a regular basis, a great option is to walk, walk, and then walk some more—thus leashing up mom and a reasonable amount of puppies can be a good alternative. Of course, some preliminary leash-training is essential. Mom, if she is well trained, helps to guide the kids during these excursions. No doubt, both you and your spouse could use the exercise as well, and it allows for good one-on-one time with the pups.

Neighbors are great about visiting with pups, as you become a regular fixture up and down the streets. Now we all realize that this won’t work for everyone, but you have to do something to get the pups out and about and prepared for the shock of that first dog show event. Even taking just one pup at a time along with mom can greatly improve their mental skills in the big world outside. That fenced-in backyard is great, but unless you expose them to other surroundings and experiences on a regular basis, that will be the only world they are comfortable with.

All of this applies to your older dogs as well. Regular socialization, even if it is just walking the rural road in front of your house, is great for them. They will learn to allow strangers to approach, to not chase after cyclists on the road, and to obey a standstill command when a car passes by. Pandemic puppies do not have to be paranoid puppies.

-David L. Anthony 
Dragonpatch@gmail.com


First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, March, 2021.

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