Originally published in the AKC GAZETTE – November 2019
The Welsh WAG - February 2020
Planning for a Welsh Terrier litter always has its challenges, and the time of year may be a major factor in your plans. While spring and fall litters often mean that puppies can spend time outside as soon as they are old enough, in most of the country a winter litter means no outside time for puppies. Many breeders choose to breed for winter litters, however, because at that time of year there are few nearby shows that the breeder-owner-handler would miss because of having to stay home with the litter. However, winter litters do require extra planning so that the puppy care goes smoothly.
As the breeder you are responsible for planning the breeding, preparing for a healthy litter, and making sure that prospective new owners are the right match for each particular puppy.
If you do not own the stud dog you will be using, and the stud dog is not local, you will have to make arrangements to get the bitch to the dog and back home, keeping in mind the potential for problems due to weather conditions. Know beforehand if you may have to arrive a few days before the actual breeding to avoid a snowstorm and allow for the possibility you will have some delays in getting back home. Careful planning for motels and travel will limit the stress to both you and the bitch. Plan ahead, and make sure that you have extra dog food for the bitch, as well as whatever milk replacement you may need should the litter be unusually large, or the bitch have little milk supply. Bad weather may restrict driving for supplies and could slow down FedEx or UPS delivery of items you need.
I always make sure that I have a large supply of towels, heating pads, and whelping and tail-docking equipment. In the middle of whelping is not the time to discover that you don’t have any silver nitrate, styptic powder, dental floss for tying off cords, or feeding tubes for weak puppies. Since we live out in the country, we invested in a whole house generator, and having power in the house in an area where power outages are frequent is a necessity. On a number of occasions, we would have lost young puppies if we did not have the generator.
Winter puppies cannot be put out, even for a little while, when the weather is cold. What exercise they Welsh Wag get, and new experiences they have must be inside. An indoor exercise pen or playpen is a necessity. Placing a tarp on the floor with a rug on the tarp, newspapers on the rug, and setting up the exercise pen on top makes a good playpen for puppies. That way they can watch what is going on, get used to TV and radio sounds, and be a part of the normal activity.
There are even lightweight plastic exercise pens available that are very portable, so that the puppies can get new experiences every day. Since the plastic pens are only 30 inches high, it is easy to reach over the top to pick up a puppy, and while weaning the litter the dam can be put in the pen with the puppies for short periods of time so they can nurse. Easy access to the puppies makes socialization more convenient.
Getting the puppies used to a wide variety of sights and sounds makes their transition to their new homes go easily. Socialization is a must, as most puppies will be going to pet and obedience homes.
Puppies should also learn early about getting their nails cut, being brushed, and being put on a grooming table. They also get their first training to come when called.
I always recommend that new owners get the video Really Reliable Recall and start teaching the pup early to always come when called. Someday it might save the dog’s life.
Just because the puppies cannot go outside to play should not mean that they are not exposed to new experiences and stimulation on a daily basis. Even in the winter, developing a sound mind in each puppy is mandatory, as well as being a lot of fun.
Welsh Terrier Club of America
AKC Gazette – November 2019
Welsh Terrier Column
Reprinted with permission from the AKC Gazette