Raising Our Puppies

It takes a lot of work to raise a litter of puppies. Everyone is all about the cute puppies, but it's important not to forget about Mama dog as well. We are with Mama Dog every step of the way. About 1 week before her due date we begin to prep the puppy room located in our basement. It provides a safe, quiet, and secluded area for her to comfortably give birth, care, and bond with her puppies. We begin to check Mama's temperature 3-4 times a day to see when her temperature begins to decrease. When her temperature decreases it means labor is around the corner. We are officially on "puppy watch" when our females' temperature reaches 99 degrees. Our females typically go into labor once their temperature drop to 98 degrees. After the temperature drop we should have puppies within 48 hours. It is normal for the temperature to increase and decrease for several days. Once the mama-to-be is in labor we never leave her side. We make a bed for us next to her whelping box and stay with her until puppies are born. This allows us to make sure there are no complications, assist if needed, comfort when needed, and document puppy birth order and information. We can tell you which puppy was born first, last, in between, born inside the sac, born feet first, the order of the placenta delivered, everything. There have been times when a Mom was "sneaky" and delivered in the middle of the night and we missed a few deliveries, but we remain at her side afterwards. After a puppy is born we let Mom clean up the puppy and try to stay back as much as possible. If she is a new mom and is struggling, we do assist. We also allow mom to eat the placentas if she chooses too as this is natural and allows her to regain strength and nutrients she may have lost. Mom is given calcium during her delivery and vitamins after birth. Everyday she is given a "butt bath," her temperature is taken to ensure no infection, and a mastitis check. Mom has access to food and water all day and is given multiple potty breaks throughout the day and night. 

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The whelping box my husband made. The pvc pipes act as pig rails. Pig rails provide a safe area for the pups which prevents them from being trapped between wall and Mom. There is also a door, so Mom doesn't have to jump inside. The bedding is changed twice a day to keep the area clean. The whelping box is kept at 70-75 degrees the first two weeks to keep puppies warm. 

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Example of where we sleep during labor and delivery. We sleep right next to her to comfort, settle, and assist Mom when needed. 

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Vitamins and supplements our Mama dogs are given. 

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The book we use for our breeding records: heat cycles, vet visits, ultrasounds, temperature checks, puppy information: weight checks, feedings, pictures, family information, and much more. 

Newborn-2 weeks Old

The puppies have entered the world! During the first two weeks of our puppies' lives we handle them very little. We feel this time is important for Mom and pups to bond. We handle the puppies twice a day: once in the morning/evening to clean the whelping area and complete both dam and puppy checks. We always place Mom outside while we do our puppy checks. This prevents Mom from getting nervous and we do not have to rush. We also cuddle with each puppy during this time. We hold them close to our faces and hearts. We never place a puppy down when he/she is upset or panicked (except for the first 3 days of life.) After our morning and evening chores are done, we do several visual checks throughout the day to make sure the puppies and Mom are doing well. When puppies are 3 days old we start our puppy curriculum. From day 3-16 we do Early Neurological Stimulation and Early Scent Introduction.

Days 3-16 is called The "Bio Sensor" program with early neurological stimulation in order to give the dog a superior advantage. Its development utilized six exercises which are designed to stimulate the neurological system. Each workout involves handling puppies once each day. The workouts required handling them one at a time while performing a series of five exercises. Listed in order of preference, the handler starts with one pup and stimulates it using each of the five exercises. The handler completes the series from beginning to end before starting with the next pup. The handling of each pup once per day involves the following exercises:

  1. Tactical stimulation (between toes)

  2. Head held erect

  3. Head pointed down

  4. Supine position

  5. Thermal stimulation

Days 3-16 with Early Scent Introduction. Neonatal puppies, from 3 to 16 days of age, are ready and able to smell their world. We take advantage of this to improve our puppies' adult scenting ability by doing Early Scent Introduction with our litters. It's simple really. We use a variety of different smells and allow the pups to smell the item for 5 seconds. This is a great way to have the puppies explore the world with their noses at such a young age. 

Scents include:

1) orange peel

2) lemon peels

3) grass

4) leaves

5) sticks

6) herbs

7) lavender 

8) training toys

9) hay 

Day 10 to 8 weeks: Noise exposure During day 10 - 8 weeks pups are introduced to a variety of noises. On day 18, 19, and 20 pups are exposed to a brief "loud noise" such as us hitting a pan with a spoon 3 times. At this early age, puppies do not fear sound, so we use this opportunity to get a jump start on desensitization of loud noises. 

Daily sounds: 

1) Radio music (mainly country)

2) thunderstorms

3) fireworks

4) children playing

5) dog barking

6) lawn mowers

7) hair dryers

8) every day sounds

9) cats meowing

10) other animal sounds

*We play a CD with a variety of sounds for puppies throughout the day* 

3-4Weeks Old

Puppies are now 3 weeks old and a lot is happening! This period is known as the Transitional Period. During this stage puppies also go through the Awareness Identification period which is through days 22-28. The Transitional Period begins when puppies begin to open their eyes, walk, bark, and use the restroom on their own. During this period, puppies are still handled on a limited basis and leave their box when we clean in the morning and evenings. When we clean their living area we now put them in a new area to begin socialization. They are brought upstairs to be exposed to new flooring: carpet and vinyl tile. Since our kitchen is slippery we place whelping pads on the floor to avoid pups from slipping. During this time the pups are loved on by our children. During the Awareness Identification period, human connection is not as important as sibling and maternal time. This just means that we do not pack puppies around the house and keep them away from Mom. One important detail about the Awareness Identification period, is that we will place new items in the whelping box. This can include a pumpkin, bucket, oranges, wood, rolled up towel, anything new to them. These items are left in the box for the pups to explore on their own time and we rotate our items.  Also, like previously mentioned above we begin noise exposure during this age. Towards the end of the week we begin to interact with puppies more. We do this gradually, so we do not overwhelm the puppies. Most puppies are ready to begin weaning at this time as well. Some of our Moms begin weaning at 3 weeks and others at 4 weeks. We follow their lead. When we notice the weaning process has began we begin to make our "Puppy Mush." Puppy Mush is dry kibble mixture through a blender. We also add a few other ingredients to our Puppy Mush: NuVet supplement, Cocciguard, and pumpkin. We begin by feeding pups once a day and feed up to 3 times a day as the grow older. Pups also begin litter box training. This keeps the whelping area cleaner and we have had great success with this. 

 

Once the pups turn 4 weeks old that is when the Socialization Period starts. We begin to engage, stimulate, and put puppies in new and safe situations. We begin to bring the puppies outside of their whelping box more. Puppies are moved upstairs for longer periods of time to be exposed to every day sounds. Puppies also get to go outside for the first time. Puppies continue to be exposed to new items on a daily basis. 

5-6 Weeks Old
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Puppies using their litter box

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Supplements we add to our puppy food. We highly encourage you to continue using NuVet when you bring home your puppy and continue for the rest of your dog's life. 

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Mom and pups bonding

Puppies are only a few short weeks away from going home. During the fifth week puppies are exposed to new people: children of all ages, men, and women. Puppies also begin to eat from individual bowls and not eat in a group. During meals we begin petting the pups to make sure pups do not go home with food aggression. We do our best to keep all puppies away from each other. If we have a big litter we feed each pup in a crate. We also introduce the "puppy, puppy, puppy" command. We often use this command when we want puppies to come to us. Puppies are now out of the whelping box and are moved to the play pen. The play pen has several different toys: tunnel, elevated bed, noise makers, balls, tug toys, a crate with open door, and other things we find to add. Puppies are moved back to the whelping area to sleep at night. 

Week 6: Puppies are taken to the vet for their first round of shots and check up. They continue to be exposed to new people, sounds, smells, textures, animals, and car rides. Puppies continue to play in the play pen and eat individually. We begin to play with each puppy on their own to build self confidence. When playing with them individually we get to know each pup better and determine what kind of drive the pup may have. The biggest change at 6 weeks is that every puppy begins crate training and they sleep in their crates at night. We get up 1-2 times each night to let puppies potty. Puppies are kept in our garage (heated and cooled) at night. Let's be honest, having multiple puppies beginning crate training at the same time is rough and we need sleep. During week 6 families are welcome to visit the puppies and chose their top 3 favorite. 

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Puppies in their crate and eating. We use MidWest bowls that screw to the door. Puppies begin to learn quickly that they must enter the crate in order to get fed. Pups are in a size small crate. 

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Puppies are exposed to several different types of toys in their puppy pen. 

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Before crate training begins we place a crate in the play pen and keep the door open. This allows the pups to gradually get use to the crate. 

7-8 Weeks old 

During week 7 puppies are temperament tested. Our temperament test consists of the following: social attraction, following, restraint, social dominance, elevation dominance, retrieving, touch sensuosity, sound sensitivity, sight sensitivity, stability, food aggression, food motivation, and overall drive. After temperament tests have been completed we contact each family on our waiting list and review the results with them. During the review we help families pick out their puppy based on our recommendation and their wants and needs. We will never sell a puppy only based on color and sex. These two characteristics come last when picking a puppy. We are focused on temperament when pairing a puppy with a family. Also during this week all puppy curriculum up to this point are continued. 

During week 8 puppies go home! 

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Each puppy comes with a "Puppy Pack" which contains our contract, health guarantee, toys, 5 pound bag of food, AKC registration kit, microchip, and vet records. Please beware that each kit my vary little. 

Closing

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I know I have talked a lot, but I hope this information gives you a little insight of how we raise our puppies. It is no secret that I LOVE my job. As a breeder, I am the pups first human and I do everything possible to raise healthy, sound, and happy puppies. I love, care, and cherish each puppy and I look forward to staying connected to families after pups leave my care. If you have anymore questions about our breeding program don't hesitate to ask!