Wednesday, October 15, 2014

5 weeks

5 weeks old today. We are establishing the clicker, exploring the yard, and enjoying lots of group play time. Smaller crates in the sleeping area help them get used to sleeping in crates very early. They are doing very well at going through the dog door to potty outside, but we still have the litter available indoors just in case. The only accidents they have are the ones right next to the litter from putting front feet in but not getting the rear feet all the way in. Very good for puppies who are only 4-5 weeks old. The HERE cue is being conditioned at every feeding as I call HERE HERE HERE and all the puppies come zooming out the dog door to greet us and eat! Everyone is eating softened food and they are separated from Sky, except during the daily walks and occasional play time. Sky is a gentle weaning mamma, preferring to taper them off and speed away instead of snapping at them. She still loves playing with them and gets very excited to see them each day.










Friday, October 3, 2014

23 Days and Learning

   From the beginning we have daily handled the puppies, but now we are beginning more focused touch desensitization. Handling the head, mouth, paws, tails and everywhere keeps them used to and tolerant of being groomed, and touched. Later mature dogs who are well desensitized to touch do not startle as easily when bumped by things, people, and other dogs. They are more tolerant when handled by strangers and usually value human contact as a reward. If you have ever worked with under socialized or shy dogs you know that being petted by people, even trusted people, is not innately rewarding, and often can cause shy dogs to be nervous or fearful. And of course nail trims and ear cleaning are much easier when dogs tolerate having their feet and ears touched!


    They also are clearly responding to sound and exploring and practicing with their own vocalizations now. When startled several will make puppy barks, and they play growl and yip with each other. Now is the time to start teaching them what we sound like and condition them to coming when called. Yep this early! I start simply by talking to them when I walk up to the box and saying "Hello Pup Pup Pup." And "Here Here Here Puppies," conditioning them to the staccato of 3 short words followed by gentle pleasant interaction and now sometimes FOOD too! They quickly begin pricking their ears and looking for me when I call. They are too clumsy still to make much progress towards me, but for now just recognition is plenty. 
We've started introducing a marker word as well, but I'll cover that in the next post. 





 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

3 Weeks Old Yesterday!


3 weeks old Wednesday! So hard to believe. They are getting mobile and messy. And teeth! Their ticking continues to darken and personalities are developing and shifting.

We've rearranged the whelping box in in an attempt to continue the natural potty training, but the clumsy puppies still make messes and need cleaning up after. Sky still does her part but unfortunately that entails digging up the papers and blankets making things worse at times.as you can see in this picture we have a sleeping area, a transition and play area, and a litter area. The papers in the litter area are to help the puppies smell what that area is to be used for. Currently the puppies are doing pretty well at getting out of the sleeping area to potty. Getting into the litter area is still a work in progress. We have added a few toys, but have to be cautious what we add because Sky is a toy hog, and she'll take them all outside if I am not watchful. So today it's just tennis balls for puppies to nudge and roll. As we wean they get more toys!

They also had their first outing into the yard yesterday. A few explored, but mostly they climbed back into my lap for naps.

Friday, September 26, 2014

2 Weeks

    2 Weeks old on Wednesday and a new world has opened up to the puppies. Eyes started opening Wednesday and by Thursday morning everyone's eyes were at least partially open. Also the ears continue to be more developed and hearing is likely to become much more significant in the next week. As their senses expand and their mobility increases, we also expand their stimuli. We have added a radio to their whelping room which plays talk and music at times throughout the day, helping puppies become accustomed to unusual voices and sounds and background noise. However, it is still very important for puppies to have and be comfortable with quiet time, as well, so we alternate times with quiet and with background noise. Puppies are joining the family in the main family room daily as well, for short stays and experience all the household sounds, sights and smells. It is our hope, that allowing then to experience both being in the middle of human family life and being away from it at times, helps prepare puppies for living with a family, while also helping to prevent separation anxiety while crated and alone.When the puppies are 6-8 weeks old we will begin to crate separately yet side by side for short periods of time during resting times or with food toys.
    As puppies become more mobile we offer different surfaces textures for them to walk on during handling time. Mobility also marks the beginning of elimination acclimation. Puppies also have a natural inclination to keep their nest/bed clean, and as they are able to stand and move out of bed they eliminate away from the bedding area, on their own without mom's help. This is the time to acclimate puppies to very early house training skills. For this litter I will be "litter training" the puppies, and later converting the litter to an outdoor area, helping them become used to going outside to eliminate. So we place bedding in half of the whelping box, and litter or paper in the other, thus providing distinct area for puppies to sleep verses eliminate.
Mobility also makes for difficult photo ops. Wiggly squirmy puppies are very hard to keep in focus! So I have grouped the females and males, but no individual photos this time. And finally you can start to see who will be darker.

  BOYS

GIRLS

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Learning to Walk

    From one day old the puppies could push their chests off the ground to crawl. They have slowly been developing better muscle control. Now, at 11 days old, the puppies are pushing up and pulling their rear legs under them, beginning to walk on all four legs for several steps. At this age they are working on balance and stability, as well as developing strength to keep themselves elevated.

  We also continue handling each puppy daily. Daily handling is important at this early age (and who could resist anyway!) as puppies experience smell and tactile sensations most strongly. Their eyes and ears have yet to open, but it will happen soon. For now they are experiencing their world through touch, smell, and taste. There are many studies concluding that early handling helps increase rate of development in the nervous system, hair growth, body weight, development of motor skills and problem solving skills, and even earlier opening of the eyes. 



Further reading and reference:
The Domestic Dog, it's evolution, behavior, and interactions with people. Edited by James Serpell

Thursday, September 18, 2014

1 Week Old

Wednesday, the puppies turned one week old. Although hard to see in pictures several have ticking coming in and little personalities are showing. We have started one-on-one time with half the litter each day and the neurological stimulation technique daily. Puppies' ears and eyes are still closed, but they are becoming more defined and they can be seen squinting their eyes and twitching their ears as though practicing and building muscles. They are all pushing up off their bellies for short periods and a few have started to pull their rear legs up under them for 2 or 3 very wobbly steps.

We have decided to have a "litter theme" with this litter. Just little litter call names, The puppies will not know them and most new homes will probably not keep their litter names. It's just something fun to try for us as a change of pace from collar colors.

Johnny Cash Litter
Boys:
"Porter"

"Jackson"

"Johnny-Yuma"

 "(Ghost) Rider"


Girls:
"Delia"

"River"

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Puppies Are Here!!

    The litter was officially born on Wednesday, September 10, but it stretched into the morning hours the next day as well. Long delivery but all is well and mom and puppies are healthy. Sky had 6 big and healthy puppies: 4 boys and 2 girls.




    Because the puppies were pretty large, the veterinarian decided to dock their tails at 2 days old. The puppies did very well and now we are all settled in. Mom has recuperated and is still being a wonderful mom. 
    GSP puppies are born with their liver patches, but the ticking comes in as they grow. Disney fans may remember this clip from the movie 101 Dalmations
    Of course, in GSP's it's "ticking." So with that in mind, here are individual pictures at 2 days old. (And, yes, they are easy for me to tell apart in person. We will have litter themed names shown soon)