Some new sounds are coming from the whelping area – little yips and paper being shredded! Puppies somehow seem to “come alive” between week 4 and 5. It is like a switch flips from life being about food and sleeping to life being about playing and exploring with a dose of food and sleeping on the side.
Since the puppies started shredding the paper in their potty box, that’s a sign that it’s officially chew time! I introduced the puppies to Life’s Abundance buffalo lung this week. They love it, and I love that it’s one ingredient – buffalo lung! Life’s Abundance has several wonderful chewing products that are one ingredient – no harsh chemicals, fillers, or preservatives! We use these products on our adults and 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.
The puppies were introduced to solid food this week. We began by teaching them to lap goat milk. We use goat milk because it has a reputation for being gentle on digestive systems and deliciously irresistible to dogs (and it’s available from our own homestead so we know it’s fresh and safe). They learned to lap in a matter of 2 days, and then we began soaking and mashing Life’s Abundance Small & Medium breed puppy food in the milk. They love meal time! We will transition them to softened food and finally hard kibble before they go home at 8 weeks. Sheerah still also feeds them a few times a day, but she’s making that switch already to spending more time away from the puppies than with them. A wise canine Mama, she is, knowing that it is time to release her babies. She’ll continue to feed them over the next week, but finish up by the time they are 6-7 weeks. 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.
Their weights are as follows: Shadow - 3lbs, 8oz; Thomas - 3lbs, 4oz; Rex - 3lbs, 3oz; Annie - 3lbs, 1oz; Elsa - 2lbs, 14oz; and Clarabelle - 2lbs, 8oz.
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 heard a piano playing, thunder, rain, fireworks, a chainsaw, knocking on the door, and doorbells (some live and some via online clips). They got to see our children dressed up in snow clothes – hats, big coats, boots, gloves - and also dressed up to go homeschool co-op with backpacks (things we take forgranted, but new sights for them). They also got to spend time with their "aunt" Tachi. She loves being with the puppies in the whelping area. She's a wonderful introduction to larger dogs for them because she's extremely gentle. Perhaps my favorite new experience for the puppies was having MJ “read” to them in her 4 year old imagination. The puppies got to hear an interesting story and experience what a book looks, smells, and sounds like.
As with our last few litters, I’m going to address some frequently asked questions at the close of each post. For my faithful readers, this will be a repeat, but perhaps helpful to some 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 recommend using Frontline on your puppy once he/she is 10 weeks old.
2) 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 many times 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.
4 weeks old! While the last four weeks have been mostly about snoozing, eating, and growing for our puppies, the coming 4 weeks promise a lot more action! And the action is beginning. My children added some soft puppy toys to their area, and the puppies showed immediate interest. They are also beginning to play with each other and chew – evidenced by them shredding Elsa’s and Clarabelle's collars. (But, thanks to Lupine’s guarantee, I will get free ones!)
The puppies continue to get their nutrition from Sheerah. In the next few days, we will begin introducing raw goat milk and softened Life’s Abundance Small & Medium Breed puppy food. They are growing well under Sheerah’s care, and their little teeth are beginning to erupt from their gums. Their weights are as follows – Shadow - 2lbs, 11oz; Thomas and Rex - 2lbs, 8oz; Annie - 2lbs, 7oz; Elsa - 2lbs, 5oz; and Clarabelle 2lbs.
The image below shows how we have the puppies' whelping area set up. We've added a new "play area" this week as they've shown themselves faithful in going in the "potty box." (Notice the wet paper in the box - good puppies!)
We are continuing to work on house training using the Misty Method. The puppies have shown marked improvement in going in the “potty area.” They now toddle away from their sleeping area into the potty box to do their business. I change their sleeping bedding several times a day to teach them it’s a clean area. They are learning quickly; I’m always amazed how such small puppies have a preference for keeping their sleeping area clean. The puppies have to go by the "potty box" to get to the play area because they typically have to eliminate upon waking. Over the next week, we will expand their play area as they show preference for keeping it clean.
The puppies experienced their first round of dewormer today, which was not their favorite new experience. Deworming is standard procedure for us. At their vet visit, we also do a fecal to be sure they are worm and parasite free.
Above are Clarabelle's and Elsa's new collars after their littermates got a bit too curious about theirs. I show their collars to help new families know who is who when they come visit.
Other new experiences for the puppies included watching AJ mop outside their whelping area, hearing fire trucks go by, hearing a generator running, watching the children fold wash, seeing LEGOS, and hearing leaf blowers. I also played some puppy sound desensitization clips for them of construction noises (hammering, sawing), motorcycles, and city noises (sirens, horns, traffic). I played the clips softly by their whelping box. They pricked their ears and looked around, and then fell asleep. I also played them while my children were holding them in order to pair something familiar (our children) with something new (the sounds). We continue to socialize them with different areas of the house as the children begin to be able to play with them more. However, they still do sleep a lot of the day, and we give them plenty of rest time.
I'll wrap up with some snapshots from the week! Thanks, as always, for stopping by and sharing in our little homestead.
In my many years of taking puppy photos, I've tried many times to capture a puppy yawn without success. Today, I got 2 - one from Clarabelle and one from Shadow. Aren't they adorable? I guess we know how they feel about photo shoots. And, now, for the 3 week photos of Sheerah's litter...
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 Sheerah 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. The potty area is where you see the blue newspaper.
We believe house training begins as soon as the puppies are mobile at 2-3 weeks old. (You can read more about our house training process here and here.) 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. We 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.
Another new development in the puppies' lives was putting on their collars. In honor of the upcoming Christmas season, I ordered them Lupine's microbatch holiday collars, as well as some plain Christmas colored collars (trying saying that fast 5 times!). If you are not familiar with Lupine, check out this New Hampshire-based company here. We love their products. Below are the puppies with their collars to help the new families identify when they come visit. These collars will go home with the puppies.
All their nutrition continues to come from their Mama. They are all growing quite nicely, and their weights as of today are as follows: Shadow - 2lbs, 8oz; Thomas - 2lbs, 3oz; Annie and Rex - 2lbs, 1oz; Elsa - 1lb, 15oz; Clarabelle - 1lb, 12oz.
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), hands touching them, soft surfaces, hard surfaces, cool surfaces, radios, and on and on – and all of this without any real purposeful socialization on my part because they are part of our daily routine. 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! Notice we took them into different rooms of the house to experience new sensations.
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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