Hi Everyone! I often receive a lot of questions about what to expect with your first dog, and what I would recommend. I figured I should compile all of this into a few blog posts so I can lazily share the link instead of saying the same things over and over again XD Please take everything I recommend with a grain of salt: at the end of the day it is your decision whether or not you want to adopt any of these practices with your new dog. If you have any tips/tricks/ideas - leave me a comment :)
Here's the links to all the parts, or if you feel like skipping some parts of it (cuz I ramble on and on and I ramble a lot!)
1. Part 1: What I Wish People Told Me
If I haven't congratulated you already on your new dog, CONGRATS! Getting a new dog is an exciting and overwhelming time. You are scrambling to get your home ready for your new arrival, buying copious amounts of toys, and treats, and frantically reading every blog and getting advice from everyone who owns a dog already.
Here's some things that I wish people told me.
1. They WILL Chew Everything, and You Can Train Them Not To
If you happen to be getting a puppy, they WILL be chewing on everything. And I mean everything. Nothing is off limits. Think, flooring, baseboards, the crate, the cable to your very expensive new computer (COUGH TIBBY COUGH). Nothing is off limits. Much like when you need to have to baby proof your home when you have a baby, you need to dog proof your home with a puppy. Try to keep anything that can be chewed far out of reach of your dog. For those things that cannot be moved away, I recommend using bitter apple spray. This is the brand I used and it works pretty well!
Another thing they will chew or teeth on, is you. Specially with corgis, who are known for their nipping behaviour. When puppies are living with their litter, they play with their littermate by mouthing on them. When they bite a bit too hard, the other puppy will yelp and cry. This teaches them that this behaviour is going "too far". You can train them to stop biting by playing with your puppy and once they nip or bite your hand too hard, yelp "OWW" and ignore them for 10-20 seconds. Then you can resume playing again. This will teach them that when you bite too hard, it stops the "fun" and biting is not something they want to do.
2. Not EVERYTHING Your Vet Recommends Is Good
Okay - hear me out! Most vets do want the best for your dog, but some things they recommend should be taken with a grain of salt. Especially when it comes to their dietary recommendations. Often, vets will recommend "specialty formulas" or "prescription formulas" for your dog (they also usually carry these foods in their offices). I understand that vets to make money too, but usually the kibbles/foods they sell are truly low quality. In fact, I believe they often cause more problems than they solve. When I first got Tibby, our vet at the time recommended that we get a "prescription diet" kibble because it's "better formulated" If they ask you to buy the kibbles, check the ingredients and ratings for the kibble first! A few red flags for low quality kibbles - the first ingredient isn't meat, it contains corn, first few ingredients contain a lot of of cheap fillers like corn, grains or wheat.
I want to also add a little note about eating Raw vs Eating Kibbles. I can only speak from personal experience and I have tried both. Tibby actually did do very well on Raw. I noticed her teeth were cleaner, her poops were small and solid, and she had a lot of energy. HOWEVER, that was when we buying the food directly from the manufacturer. After we moved, the only place we could purchase this raw food was through the local pet store. I'm not sure how they mishandled the food, but Tibby had a lot of stomach problems and we couldn't keep her on the diet any longer and had to take her to the vet countless times. Since then, we've made the switch to a high quality kibble. Her teeth are not as amazing as when she was on Raw but her energy level and poops are the same as when she was on raw. So my recommendation is that you should go with whatever you feel comfortable with, if you choose raw, please make sure the proper food handling practices are in place!
Another thing that vets also do is recommend medications that your dog doesn't necessarily need. Don't be afraid to take the time to ask them what each medication and vaccine is meant to prevent/treat. If you don't feel comfortable it never hurts to get a second opinion from other vet. When I first got Tibby, and she got hot spots, our vet recommended no less than 2 different pills and a cream for her hot spots. Needless to say it was overkill.
3. If They Need To Go, They Need To Go
If the dog that you are getting happens to be a puppy, they most likely won't be potty trained by the time they get to you. When I first got Tibby, at 11 weeks she had to go every 4-6 hours (including at night). Nothing beats getting up at 5 AM with a tiny bundle of fluff, running into the elevator and hoping she can hold it in util you get to the outside. I personally think that crate training can be great for potting training your dog. No puppy wants to pee/poop where they are sleeping. This gives them an incentive to warn you when they have to go. If you're lucky, they will make a sad yelping sound when they need to go (that's the alarm)! If you are lucky enough to have a backyard, get decent (enough) and then quickly let your dog out. Reward them with praise and treats for going outside. If you live in a condo, or don't have quick access to a yard, you may have to get puppy training pads. These incentivize your puppy to pee and poo on the pad. Once they go on the right spot, praise them and give them treats!
When they have accidents, make sure you use an enzymatic spray. Enzymatic spray breaks down the ammonia in the pee/poo so that your dog can no longer smell it, and constantly pee/poo there because they think that is their "spot".
4. Socialize In A Safe Environment
Most breeders will recommend that you don't take your dog out to socialize until they get their full set of shots (around 16 weeks). However, before 16 weeks is an important and crucial time for starting your dog's socialization process, especially if they weren't given an opportunity to properly socialize before then. You shouldn't take your dog to a place where a lot of other dogs frequent, but you should consider setting up doggy playdates with other dogs who are vaccinated already or attending "puppy kindergarten" classes. For puppy kindergartens, most of them just require that you have gotten the first set of vaccines (and if your breeder is reputable, then they should already have had these shots).
To see a complete and maybe exhaustive list of things I recommend getting for your dog, tune into PART 2!