Last Updated: 12 March 2008
At Traumhof, we take raising puppies very seriously. The formative first 8 weeks set the stage for your future family member’s future. So many pet owners tell us that they have no idea how their puppy/dog spent his or her early weeks. What do the giant “factory” breeders do for their large volume of puppies? How well do they know the pups as individuals? Did the pups experience anything outside a kennel environment?
We are proud of our puppy raising program. Here is a glimpse at our puppies’ first 8 weeks:
The pups spend their first weeks in the safe, clean, nurturing environment that we have created in our puppy nursery. There, the pups are kept warm fed, and watched over carefully by their canine mother and their human mother! When we are not in the nursery, we watch and listen to our pups on a video/sound monitor. We weigh each pup twice a day at this age, to be sure they are all gaining weight/eating.
The pup’s mother is with them almost constantly for most of the first week. She only leaves them to go outside to the bathroom. When she comes in, we wipe her belly, teats, and rinse her feet in a kiddie pool before allowing her back in the “hospital- clean” nursery. When the pups are almost a week to week old, their Mother begins to ask for some time outside to play, and some exercise. We let her participate in walks around the farm and some ball throwing games, to the extent she feels comfortable. We want our girls to be happy.
Our girls’ know their job. They clean up after their pups early on, so there never seems to be any trace of the pups’ waste. Still, as they grow, the pups begin to be able to eliminate on their own, and we help their mother out by thoroughly cleaning/disinfecting the puppy nursery twice a day, and we change/wash all their laundry/baby blankets three times a day. We handle the pups often, gently, and give them love! Already, we start to see which pup crawls off from the others, which pup seems to always eat first or most,
and which pups are gaining the most weight, or the most coordinated at moving about.
Once the pups begin to see and hear, the fun begins. Now they want to explore and begin to interact and play. We enrich their environment with stimulating toys. They start with small, soft stuffed and squeak toys, and teething toys. As they mature, we add puzzle toys, chewing toys, ropes, balls, you name it, we provide it! At this point, the pups do not need their mother to be present every minute. We allow the mother a space outside the whelping box, still within our nursery. She has her toys, chewies, a bed, and access to a fenced outdoor yard, through a dog door. This way, she can have some space to herself.
Usually, by 4 weeks old, the pups are able to climb out of the whelping nest. At that time, we put up a temporary half wall to divide the nursery into a puppy area, and a sanctuary for their mother. The female is able to jump over the half wall to join her pups, and she is able to jump out when she is done feeding/caring for them. By now, we are supplementing their mother’s milk with solid, moistened food. Once they start to have sharp little teeth, their mother finds it uncomfortable to nurse them for long, and they are ready for “real” food, too!
At this age, we begin taking the pups outside, under supervision. They quickly learn to use the outside as a Bathroom spot. This helps keep the nursery cleaner!
From this point on, the pups are socialized in every way possible. We have them meet new people, children, farm animals. We walk them on various surfaces. We give them access to a play yard, complete with a play house, a “doggie village” of shelters to run in and out of, a tiny slide, a tunnel, etc.
Our pups love to play, and to explore! In summer, we put some water in a kiddie pool for them to play in. The pups begin to walk out on the farm twice a day. For those pups who stay with us past 8 weeks, we introduce them to swimming in a lake and field trips to walk on new trails.
We also begin taking the pups out of the nursery, so they can experience being in a house, with the sounds of dinner begin made, vacuums running, people coming home. At first, when they are small enough, we place them in a kiddie pool, amongst blankets and toys. They stay in the pool while we make dinner or watch tv or read. This contains “bathroom accidents”, but allow sus to introduce the pups to family life.
We are proud of the start we give these puppies. Each pup receives love, attention, and play time. We know the personalities of each one, in a way that comes from spending quality time observing and interacting with them.
By about 5 weeks old, we allow the pups daytime in/out access to the outside play yard via a dog door. They can choose when to go outside and when to come in. (Obviously, we do this only in good weather!)
The pups also experience frequent nail trimmings, lots of handling, an introduction to a leash, and an introduction to crates.
We begin by placing a small crate, with no door, inside the nursery. The pups love to hide away at naptime, or to sneak a favorite toy inside to enjoy without other puppies. We find them in there frequently.
When the pups are using the crate comfortably, we begin to take them and put them all in crates, in a room outside the nursery, while we clean. We often put two to a crate at this time. We set the crates so they can see each other in the crates, too. The pups learn to be in the crate for a short time while we clean. Ideally, we try to do this at a time when they want ot nap!
The next step, is having nightly crate time for an hour or so. We give each puppy a chewie to enjoy. They are only allowed to chew on their special treat when crated.
This way, they associate the crate with something they like. By the time your puppy has to ship to you, or by the first night he has to stay in a crate at your home, he is already adjusted and comfortable with the process. Now, his first night with you, the crate provides familiar security instead of another new ordeal.
We strive to give our puppies the very best possible start. We believe these actions on our part really help shape your puppy into a well adjusted family pet. We invite you to come see our farm and see how our dogs live and are raised. We think you will agree that we are unsurpassed in creating a wonderful environment to support early puppyhood development!
RAISING OUR PUPPIES
THE FIRST 8 WEEKS AND BEYOND
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