NEONATAL PERIOD - Birth to 14 days - Our puppies are born in a whelping box inside a private kennel enclosure in the dog level of our home . One of us is always in attendance during the whelping to assist the mother as needed and contact the veterinarian if things aren't going as they should. Our mamas are never left alone when they are close to their due date. The whelping box is padded with a thick carpet covered by a waterproof under-pad and a wool blanket for good footing for the babies and mother. Sometimes a heat pad is placed under the blanket if warranted. The bedding is washed and changed multiple times daily as needed to provide a clean and comfortable bed for the babies. Newborn puppies are completely dependent on their mother. Their eyes and ears are closed and they respond only to touch, cold and pain.Their general motor skills at this age is limited to crawling in a swimming motion. The puppies cannot regulate their body temperature, nor can they eliminate without the mother's stimulation. The puppies are handled by us daily for short periods of time each day. It has been found that this type of stimulus can have long term effects on a puppy's behavioral and physical development. These effects include enhanced development of motor and problem solving skills, increased weight gain, more rapid hair growth, acceleration of the maturation of the nervous system and even earlier opening of the eyes. In terms of behavior, puppies exposed to varied stimulus from birth to five weeks are found to be more confident, exploratory and socially adept.
TRANSITION PERIOD - 14-21 days - When the puppies are about two weeks old, the mother enjoys a little time away from the babies. She is free to go out of the box to play with the other dogs as she chooses. The puppies mainly sleep and eat at this point. Mom will spend most of her day caring for her puppies though. The puppies are individually handled daily and checked over carefully and weighed regularly to note proper growth and development . Each puppy is identified with a different colored velcro collar. Their eyes open somewhere around the 14-15 day point, and the puppy is transitioning into a hearing and sight-filled world! The period from two to three weeks of age is a big transitional phase characterized by significant change and neurologic development. The puppy changes from being highly protected from his environment to extremely sensitive to it. This period is one of transition from neonatal to a more adult like form All senses are functioning at this time.
SOCIALIZATION PERIOD 22-84 days -At 3-4 weeks of age, the whelping box is removed and the puppies are given the full kennel enclosure to play in. They begin to eat pureed puppy food at about this time, although they continue to nurse from their mother also. We gradually transition them from their blanket footing to shredded paper footing as they are ready. Toys are offered at this time introducing them to textures and squeakers for tactile and sensory stimulation. They are quite entertaining at this age! They seem to develop by the hour. The socialization period is divided into two phases. The first is primary socialization (canine socialization) and the second is secondary socialization (human socialization). This is the time when the puppy is forming social relationships. Although socialization is an ongoing process which continues for his entire life, this period is a critical one because it's the time in which initiating social relationships is the most effective. Puppies who miss out on this early socialization are the most likely candidates to have behavioral issues later in life.
PRIMARY / CANINE SOCIALIZATION PERIOD 22-49 days - This is the period when the puppy learns that he is a dog. It is very important that he be kept with his litter mates and mother during this time. Social play and group coordinated activity occur during this stage. Puppy exhibit playful, aggressive and sexual behavior between themselves. The mother is very aware of inappropriate behavior issues and will discipline the puppies as needed. The mother's disciplinary actions prepare the puppy for human correction so that the puppy can learn to accept correction during his later training. Taking a mother away from the puppies too soon can have life-long effects on the puppies. The central nervous system continues its rapid development. At this age, their coat types are becoming more evident. The puppies become very curious between 5-7 weeks of age. The type of experiences that the puppy has during this period will have a strong effect on how he will react to humans as an adult.
SECONDARY/HUMAN SOCIALIZATION PERIOD 50-84 DAYS - When the puppies are about 7 weeks, they are becoming more independent and their personalities are shining through. They are in and out of their enclosures throughout the day and introduced to the sights and sounds of the household including television, cooking sounds and sounds of daily normal activities. The more they get accustomed to with us, the easier they will acclimate when you take them home! We do our best to stimulate their senses in many different ways to prepare them for their life with you. When the puppy leaves his siblings and mother and starts his new life, the socialization needs to continue in earnest. Puppies should meet as many different types of people as possible during this stage. It is also important to expose the puppy to as many different environments as possible. The puppy is very susceptible to long lasting effects of fearful stimuli during the 8-10 wk. period. If the puppy perceives an event as traumatic, he may generalize it and it could affect him for the rest of his life. Great care should be taken to avoid fearful reactions during this stage.