Click on their pictures above for more photos and details!
A switch seems to flip between 4 and 5 weeks in a puppy’s life. Life used to be all about food and warmth, and life suddenly becomes much more about playing, exploring, and learning! Food and warmth are still essential, of course, but a change takes place in their interests.
The puppies now are full of adorable antics as they wrestle and chase each other. Their little teeth are erupting from their gums, which means it is chew time. For the first time this past week, I observed them chewing on the newspaper in the potty box and the towels in the whelping area. Since I want to encourage their chewing efforts in different directions, I introduced Life’s Abundance Buffalo Lungs and Life’s Abundance Porky Puffs.
What I love, love about these products is that they each have a single ingredient – buffalo lung and pig snout. No preservatives, fillers, or artificial ingredients! Our adult schnauzers highly recommend these products! (In fact, I have to make sure Tachi doesn’t snatch these goodies away from the puppies right away. The buffalo lung did go missing this afternoon...) We use these products on our adults as well as puppies because chewing is an important part of a dog’s life. In addition to help easing the pain of puppy teething, it helps clean their teeth throughout their lifetimes. And, chewing is just fun and enjoyable for dogs! I think it can help relieve stress and anxiety, as well. We don’t believe in trying to teach puppies NOT to chew, we believe in teaching them what to chew on. We already are training our puppies there are things not to chew on – mainly our toes (which seems especially delightful to puppies) and the newspaper in the potty box. We instruct our children never to let puppies “play bite” or chew on them – even though it’s adorable right now before all their teeth are intact and before they have real jaw strength.
On the food front, we’ve been upping the amount of Life’s Abundance Small & Medium Breed Puppy food and decreasing the amount of goat milk they receive. We feed them three times a day. At each feeding, the group receives 2/3 cup of food softened in 2.25 cups of milk. The ratio will keep slowly working itself up to dry food in about 2 weeks. Tachi rarely feeds them at this point. Every once in awhile she hops in, but usually only stays briefly. We often have families ask if she misses the puppies when they leave. Although she is a fabulous mama, she has the God-given instinct to distance herself from the puppies to allow them to grow and develop into adults. The time frame of a few weeks of mothering may seem short to us, but not to dogs. She fed them, cleaned them, socialized them to dog behavior, and lots more in a few weeks, and she knows it’s time to let them go. So, no, we don’t believe Tachi feels any sadness in seeing them go at 8 weeks because she is already letting them go gradually and she has given them the nutrition and skills they need from a Mama.
Socialization continues to be an important part of the puppies’ lives. (Although, naptime is certainly a LOT more important at this stage.) This week, they got to meet some strangers as families came to meet us and see the puppies. They got to go in various rooms of our house – a bedroom, our kitchen, and our schoolroom. We took the whole group outside to play in the shade in the grass. Oh, the fun new things they found - a leaf, a piece of bark, a balloon, grass stems! (See photos at the end of the post.) I also played some puppy sound desensitation clips from youtube. They heard things like thunder, heavy rain, and a door bell all being played quietly. Most of them fell asleep. Another new experience was a brief grooming session with my Slicker brush before their photo shoot this week. All in all, we like to just keep expanding their worlds while giving them lots of time to rest and grow.
Per a new family request, here are pictures of the puppies' collars. This will help you identify the puppies when you visit and remember who is who after you go home.
Their weights as of this morning are as follows: Amelia - 3lbs, 8oz; Zeke - 3lbs, 3oz; Zuma & JD - 3lbs, 1oz; Chester - 3lbs; Auggie - 2lbs, 14oz; Everest - 2lbs, 13oz; Ivan - 2lbs, 12oz; Tracker - 2lbs, 10oz; and Faith - 2lbs, 9oz.
As I did with Tachi’s last litter, I’m going to answer a few frequently asked questions each week. Some of these will be repeats for my dedicated readers, but important information for new families.
1) What flea and tick products do you recommend? We do not treat our puppies with any flea and tick medicine. (We do deworm and vaccinate them, but no flea and tick medicine.) We choose not to use flea and tick products due to their small size. In addition, they live in a low-risk environment because all our adults are treated with Bravecto. You should discuss flea and tick prevention at your first vet visit. Since Bravecto is not recommended for use until after 6 months old, I would recommend using Frontline on your puppy once he/she is 10 weeks old.
2) What food should I have on hand for my puppy? We recommend Life’s Abundance Small & Medium Breed puppy food. Read all about Life’s Abundance here on our website. Be sure to have a bag on hand when your puppy arrives at home.
3) What size crate do you recommend? We recommend 30"x19"x21" wire crate with a divider panel. This crate will serve your mini schnauzer from puppyhood to adulthood. When you are crate training, use the divider panel to give the puppy a small place to bed down. As they grow and learn to potty outdoors, expand their crate area. When they are fully trained, the divider panel will not be needed. You can purchase a crate from my sister over at Kristen's Happy Tails. Anything in her shop (except Life's Abundance products) can be purchased and ready to go for you (no shipping charges) when you pick up your puppy. Purchase Life's Abundance products here.
I will close again with fun snapshots from the week! I've said this before on the blog, but I think it's worth repeating as you look as these pictures of puppies being handled by children - as I've watched my children interact with puppies over the years, I've decided there is a balance when allowing young children to play with puppies. On one hand, the child needs to learn to be gentle, and, on the other hand, the puppy needs to learn how to tolerate hands that don't always know the best way to hold them. We have to be constantly monitoring our youngest children as they handle the puppies. As I think back, when we had our first litter of puppies here at Russell Homestead in 2014, AJ was 4 years old. At age 4, we could not trust him to be alone with the puppies. Now our oldest children can play with puppies alone, while we still have to monitor the younger ones. I feel both our children and puppies learn from this experience. We've heard many, many testimonies from families that our puppies love children.
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4 weeks old! It is hard to believe that half our time with these babies is already passed. The puppies are becoming a lot more “fun” in the past week as they are now up and romping with each other and interacting with us. These play periods are very short lived, as they still snooze away most of the day and night. The children were sure they needed a toy this week so we added a blue ball to the whelping area.
Feeding them is becoming more our responsibility and less Tachi’s. Tachi has shown us some signs that she is ready to wean them – mainly spending less time with them. As opposed to spending a lot of time with them in the beginning, she now goes in mainly to feed them. Ten puppies at 4 weeks old is almost impossible for Tachi to feed – there simply is not enough room! Therefore, we have increased our feeds up to 3 a day – morning, noon, and evening. Just this morning, we started added softened food with the milk. We start our puppies on Life’s Abundance Small & Medium Breed puppy food. We highly recommend this food for puppies! When our puppies go home, they will be on this food with no added milk or water.
The puppies continue to grow nicely. Their 4 week weights are posted on their pages. Their weights are as follows: Amelia – 2lbs, 10oz; Zeke & JD – 2lbs, 8oz; Chester – 2lbs, 6oz; Auggie & Everest – 2lbs, 5oz; Zuma – 2lbs, 4oz; Ivan – 2lbs, 3oz; Faith – 2lbs; and Tracker – 1lb, 14oz.
We dewormed the puppies this past week. We will continue to deworm them every two weeks until they go home. Deworming puppies is simply a standard procedure for us. We also will be taking a fecal to the vet when they go for their health check-up to be sure they are worm and parasite free.
In addition to physical growth, the puppies are growing in their repertoire of sounds and experiences. Since the weather is beautiful, our windows are open and they are hearing lots of new sounds at a safe, far-off distance that does not frighten them. This past week they heard a lawn mower, power tools, vehicles, a rototiller, gun shots (we live near State Game lands where some hunting was taking place), and, of course, the sounds of children playing – bikes, rollerblades, balls bouncing, etc. The puppies got to experience grass and rocks during their photo shoot. One lucky puppy – Faith – also got to meet our curious kitten. The rest of the puppies will get to meet the kittens later, as well as the goats.
Another new experience for them was getting their "real" collars. Prior to this, they were wearing ribbon whelping bands from Lupine. Now, they are wearing 6-9 inch collars from Lupine. (Lupine is a New Hampshire based company that makes quality collars and leashes; most of their products come with a lifetime guaranteed even if chewed!) Our children love their new collars because they come in fun designs. They got to pick a collar for their puppy, and this is the collar the puppies will be wearing when they go home.
I will close again with snapshots from the week. The adult schnauzer you see is Aunt Jolly meeting Ivan. We allow our adult schnauzers brief interactions with the puppies at this age and more as they grow. The last 3 pictures are EJ and MJ trying to help me take their weekly update photos. Notice how the puppies are watching the children. MJ was sure peek-a-boo would get Auggie to look at the camera.
Thanks, as always, for stopping by!
The puppies are growing and changing very rapidly. (Remember to click on their photos for more pictures and details!) They are now realizing there is a world beyond their whelping box. They still spend the bulk of the day snoozing away, but they have short periods of time when they are awake and beginning to play with each other.
A big change in the puppies’ abilities this past week was learning to walk. Their walk is quite tottery, but they are walking! They are also becoming purposeful in where they are going, such as trying to climb out of the whelping box when they sense Tachi is resting just outside it. So, that means it’s house training time! We have added a potty box to their area, as you can see below.
We believe house training begins as soon as the puppies are mobile at 2-3 weeks old. We use the Misty Method to train our puppies. The premise of the Misty Method is to capitalize on a dog’s God-given instinct not to soil the place where they sleep. The puppies now have two areas – a sleeping area in the gray box with a towel and potty area on newspaper in a plexi-glass box. They cannot yet access the rest of the whelping area. This next week, we will change the towel in the sleeping area several times a day to teach them it’s a clean area and transfer sleeping puppies from the potty box to the sleeping area. (Yes, the puppies do sack out in there at first, but my children are good at catching them and moving them.) When the puppies do eliminate in the potty box, we cover it with fresh newspaper to keep it clean while preserving the smell to make them come back again. We also eliminate the smell in the sleeping area by cleaning it with Bio-base Biodeodizer, which works naturally to eliminate the source of bad odors by using viable bacterial cultures (read more here), and it smells amazing! This is hands-down my hubby's favorite Life's Abundance product because, yes, puppies do make messes; and, yes, they are quite smelly at times. Spraying on biodeodizer immediately makes the odors begin to dissipate.
In addition to adding the potty box, another big change in the puppies’ world this past week was adding raw goat milk to their diet. The puppies still nurse from Tachi for the bulk of their nutrition, and the milk we provide is like a “snack.” We choose goat milk because it enjoys a reputation of being a universal milk to raise various species. It is known to be gentle on digestive systems. We have found it to work very well to wean puppies. Of course, we also have a readily available source with our very own herd of Nubians. This litter of puppies, likely do the large number of puppies, dove right into the milk licking the milk and each other happily. In the coming weeks, we will gradually transition them to Life’s Abundance Small & Medium Breed puppy food.
Below are some pictures of their first feedings. The very first time we used a shallow cookie sheet so no one would get their nose too deep in milk. Then we switched over to 5 shallow bowls. Notice how in the one picture, they are licking it off each other.
We weigh the puppies morning and evening. Their weights of this morning from smallest to largest are as follows: Tracker – 1lb, 6oz; Faith – 1lb, 7oz; Chester, Zuma, Ivan, and Everest – 1lb, 10oz; Zeke, JD, and Auggie – 1lb, 11oz, and Amelia – 1lb, 13oz. For some solid proof that we've got growth, check out the space in the whelping box - at left was taken at 1 day old and at right was taken at 3 weeks old. Go Tachi - that's some hard work she's done in 3 weeks!
As shown by the weights, Amelia is the largest of the litter, though not by much. She's also just a bit ahead of the others in walking and alertness, as evidenced by her photo shoot today. She stole the show for sure with her perkiness!
Since the puppies can now see and hear, they are already being socialized to the normal household sights, smells, sounds, and sensations. They are in a room off our kitchen and near our washing machine. They already are familiar with a myriad of household occurrences – doors closing, washing machine running, coffee pot brewing and beeping, happy voices (and grumpy voices), blenders whirring, hands touching them, soft surfaces, hard surfaces, cool surfaces, and on and on – and all of this without any real purposeful socialization on my part because they are part of our daily routine. They even got to experience the sounds of a birthday party. As they grow, I intentionally socialize them to as many things as I can, while being conscious not to overwhelm or overstimulate them. We always, always let them get plenty of rest because that's an important part of puppy growth and development.
I’ll close my post today with snapshots from the week. As you can probably guess, the cuddle sessions are getting longer! In the first picture, I found CJ in the whelping area with his puppy Tracker (if you remember he wanted the smallest puppy). He had gotten Tracker out of the gray box and put him with Tachi by himself so he could have all the milk he wanted. CJ loves looking out for little ones. The adult mini schnauzer you see in a photo is Aunt Sheerah checking out Tracker. In the last picture, EJ is giving his puppy "Ifin" (Ivan) a kiss.
Thanks, as always, for stopping by!
Vanessa from Russell Homestead. Follower of the Lord Jesus, wife of my knight in shining armor, mother of 5 wonderful children, and joint-keeper of the Russell homestead. Thanks for stopping by!
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