Poor puppies were already for their first swim in the ocean when I loaded them up in the car and told them we were going “CERF ‘n.” In fact, we were heading to the Ophthalmologist to make sure that no one had any heritable eye conditions prior to sending them to their new homes. Cataracts, distichia(lower eyelid lashes-not normal for dogs) and progressive retinal atrophy(a disease leading to blindness ) are examples of conditions one may see.
It was the puppies first journey off the “ranch”. I had been feeding them individually in crates as well as placing a crate with soft cushion as a resting area in their pen to associate crates as a “good place”.
I also had stuffed little kongs with cheerios and peanut butter for the trip and they were well acquainted with them. I had enlisted the help of friends to help meet me at the clinic to help shuffle pups during the exam. I only heard an occasional whimper and would toss bits of kibble in the crate to keep them content during the drive.
With incompletely developed immune systems and only their mother’s antibodies to protect them, we wheeled them directly into an exam room and they were not put on the table or floor. They were quite intrigued at the world beyond central ave but I could see them all starting to fall asleep as we waited for the doctor.
Dr. Budelsky and staff handily got each puppy through the exam without a fuss. As a matter of fact, he had to wake several of them up so he could see past their eyelids. Good news-all were clear and our first road trip was a success.
Orange greets Dr.B
So, I was just bragging how wonderful these litter black fur balls were doing with housebreaking. I think they must have gotten access to the internet( I will blame red or lime green- the overachievers)and saw that they were not going to stay together as a wild wolf pack.
They have become quite the brave little explorers so recalls are becoming less “needed” in their puppy minds as who needs mom anyways? As their senses become more and more acute, their distraction level has increased as well. Their activity level has doubled in the last week as has the amount of “waste”. Some have chosen to not use the provided litter box or are too wired to get their in time. So why waste time eliminating when you can leap over your brother or surprise your sister , who has stopped for a potty break, with a full forced collision .
They have also mastered the porch steps and what a great place to find more trouble. They have also acquired the typical attraction to dirt and a taste for dead grass. Grass is a stable in the flat coat diet.
This is why puppies should be placed in individual homes and not stay together as a pack. I always get on my soap box with prospective puppy owners and tell them to never adopt 2 puppies at the same time especially litter mates of the same sex. Research even supports this statement as litter mates are more likely to bond with each other than their human and may fight particularly as they approach maturity. It is often difficult for litter mates to determine which dog is the dominant pack member as age and size are similar. Fights between two female litter mates(especially spayed girls) can be more severe than 2 intact male dogs.
We have been blessed with a mild winter so we have had the opportunity to take small groups outside to play and start “potty training”. Thankfully, the yard is fully fenced, but fitting through the post rails is still possible.
After a few days, the pups began to increase their radius away from me and investigate the bags of mulch, dead twigs and leaves . Like a typical flatcoat, they also found eating the thick blades of grass is yummy . Also, dirt is quite tasty too.
It was not long before everyone would both urinate and defecate fairly consistently outside(boy does that help with cleanup in the pen). However, 5-7 week old flatcoats have the attention span of a gnat so a blowing leaf or intriguing stick could easily distract them from the task at hand. They also found if you really need to go, move some distance away from the others and watch your back as you might get body slammed by your sibling!
They would alert to the sounds of the birds, the barking of neighborhood dogs and even planes flying above them. A few would startle at the sounds, but recover quickly.
We also began doing recalls in the yards. They would first need to locate me and then they would run happily to me for hugs and kisses. As they have become more comfortable in the yard, some of the pups would come more slowly if nibbling on straw or a stick or sniffing something peculiar .
I will not guarantee a housebroken, obedience trained 8 week old pup, but they are on their way to being good canine citizens.
Two long time flat-coat friends of mine let me borrow a ” puppy mobile.” It was an idea that they found in the Whole Dog Journal for puppy enrichment. Puppies undergo what is long been known as a critical social period between 4-13 wks of age. It is during this period that the greatest learning occurs so it is important to expose dogs of this age to a variety of environmental stimuli including different types of people, sounds, sights and places. If left isolated and under stimulated, these puppies can become fearful and often exhibit separation distress and aggression.
The critical period for sociability to other canines is a much smaller window which occurs at 4-6 weeks. Therefore, it is important not to separate pups at this age from their litter mates so they may learn appropriate behaviors around other dogs. If a bitch whelps only 1 puppy, it is important to keep this singleton around it dam during this period and expose them(safely) to other puppies their own age. When possible, singletons may be joined with other nursing litters or the breeder may choose a local shelter to adopt 1 to several pups of similar ages and raise them with the singleton.
The puppy adventure box was constructed with PVC and PVC joints and holes were drilled into the piping to hang items in the setup. It was puppy “Disney World” to the crew of 8 at Pemberly. The items have been changed daily using different textures, sounds or shapes.
adventure box, texture and sound objects
As the puppy grow bigger and more agile, I worried that they would scale over the whelping box which contained them for 5 weeks. I had added an extension to the box by adding a ex-pen( a metal doggy playpen) to the box at that time to give them more room to play and sleep. Last weekend, we removed the whelping box and added a second ex-pen and they are in heaven, romping,exploring and stretching out at nap-time.
We have added platforms to climb on, boxes to chew and run through and lots of toys of various textures. We have also started feeding them separately in crates so we can better assure that all pups are getting adequate nutrition. After eating, we pair them up and ask them to settle in the crates. Most of the crew are adapting well, but we do have some that feel the need to complain with loud, pathetic puppy chatter(we won’t mention any names).
We have also been making short trips outdoors in pairs(its all I can do to keep my eyes on the little black coats). They are quite a brave group in the great outdoors.
The High rise apartments
Reagan and Lime Green enjoy nylabones together
Taylor’s 1/2 sister, Reagan, has taken over the role as Team Leader/Babysitter. She has been very interested in the babies since they arrived on the 9th. Taylor was very protective of her puppies the first few days and then more and more comfortable with the other adults(canines) as the pups got bigger and more lively.
Keaton is a typical boy and avoids the room where the “crib” was once the pups became more mobile. At 5 weeks, Taylor only makes guest appearances to her pups to make sure they are all present and accounted for.
Reagan is all about having fun. Everyone is her BFF. She is definitely the dog in charge here at Pemberly but has been very respectful of the little pack of eight belonging to Taylor. She has never jumped into the whelping box but will stand outside with her head over the top watching them as her whole body wags. Now that the pups are also playing in an exercise pen, Reagan can often be found lying up close to the pen on her belly with her nose through the pen as the babies come up and lick her through the bars . They extend their tiny paws in play at their Auntie.
August and a pile of puppies
miss red charms mom and elsa
Taylor gets sympathy from Karl
Elsa and Pink -girl talk
Miss Red offers Karl a helping paw
Green hangs out with his new BFF, August
Friday on the 12th, the babies met a Family who recently moved to zionville from Germany with their 13 year old Flat-Coat ,Gizmo. Taylor must have given them instructions on good manners because they behaved like model canine citizens.
At the start of week four, we began putting the puppy on the grooming table so they could get comfortable for grooming, vet exams and agility work. They were allowed to explore the table and learned how to back away from the edges. Their ears, feet and mouths were handled to familiarize them with examinations by judges, veterinarians, groomers or even owners cleaning feet or trimming nails.
They got their first introduction to peanut butter and licked it off my fingers. Some liked it so much they sucked on my finger with the strength a hoover vacuum cleaner. This enabled me to examine their mouths and simulate “brushing their teeth”. And, yes, the teeth are starting to erupt and boy are they sharp!
I picked up each puppy and placed it on the table as if we were stacking the puppy for a dog show. Most of the puppies were able to hold a standing position comfortably and no one was asked to maintain it for more than 2-3 seconds. There was no adamant protesting to any of the handling. We will continue to do these table exercises several times a week.
Pink shows us a side profile of her pretty face
Blue stacking for Jif
Jif is yummy says Rainbow
Purple giving us a her best stack
Purple giving us a her best stack
The pups turned 3 weeks Sunday. Taylor has begun to stay away from the whelping box more and more as they grow and demand more milk than the bar can deliver.
We decided it was time to start the pups on puppy food. Since teeth are not yet erupted, it is important to grind up the kibble into a powder and soak it in warm water. Some breeders opt to add goat’s milk or esbilac(milk replacement for orphan pups).The gruel is poured into large bowls and the feast begins! It is important to watch them during their meal to make they all are getting what they need.
The mighty three: blue, green and orange don’t even come up for air when the bowls are down. Not to worry though, the little girls, Red and Rainbow are tough and work their way into the mix quite handily. Purple is a smart girl and finds her way to alternate dishes if the big dish is occupied. Well, then there is Pink, she is our drama queen, and if she can’t get in she tells everyone about it with her voice.
Miss Pink sees the world for the first time
Ok, If you were hoping for a glimpse into the life of Christian Gray, you have the wrong site. On Day 7-10, we began to see the makings of decent eyelid margins. As of day 14, we have our eyes open! Although eyes are open, visual acuity does not completely develop until approximately day 28. We will not be throwing marks for them yet.
I can also see the ear canal starting to develop as well; however, they still sleep very soundly and appear not to hear the general household noises. I have kept a radio on in the room and vary the stations from talk radio to country music .
At times, their voices sound like purring kitten as they sleep and exhibit twitching and nervous movements. When distressed and can’t find the pack, the voice sounds more like a tiny dog bark.
They look like wind up toys as they bobble across the whelping box in search of mom and siblings. It is not uncommon to find a pyramid of puppies on the heated fleece pad as they seek warmth. I love to end my day cuddling with a puppy or two or three as they sleep with a belly full of warm milk.