Welcome to week four of our puppies' world! Here they are looking much more alert than just one week ago. (Remember to click on their pictures for even more cuteness!)
The puppies are becoming aware that a world lies beyond their whelping box. Though they still spend the majority of the day snoozing peacefully, they are starting to play with each other and interact with us for short periods of 5-15 minutes. This past week we were able to hold them more and take them to different rooms in our house for them to experience different floor textures, sounds, and objects (toys, furniture, etc.)
Sheerah remains their source of nutrition. In the next week, we will begin introducing Life's Abundance Small & Medium Puppy food. In addition to feeding them, she also keeps them spotlessly clean. Their soft, full black coats glisten due to her tongue washings. There is no need to bathe young puppies at this stage because of how their mother takes care of it. Sheerah is spending more time away from the puppies as they grow older and more independent. She goes in several times a day for feeding and cleaning, but spends the rest of her day away from them doing her normal activities once again.
We continue to work on house training with the puppies. Here's how their whelping area is now set up. (It is difficult to see, but there's evidence of potty business in the box. After the photo, I layered fresh newspaper over it to preserve the scent to keep them coming back, but keep things clean.) The "off limits" area will be opened once they are using the potty box more consistently. Keeping the play area small at this stage helps them figure out where to go potty.
We use the Misty Method to train our puppies. (You can read more about our house training process here and here.) A quick story of this in action - I was photographing the puppies all sleeping in the sleeping area. One awoke and tottered off to go potty. Puppies have two instincts that pull them away from their sleeping area when they need to go potty - they like to go in solitude away from the litter and they prefer to keep their "nest" (sleeping area) clean. The puppy immediately tottered away from the group to do business. Since we have the potty box RIGHT outside the sleeping area at this stage, she went right into it and did business. Yay! The puppies are not perfectly trained at this stage (or any stage before going home at 8 weeks), but they can be taught to get most of their business where it belongs. This litter is off to a great start!
The puppies are all growing beautifully. Their four weeks weights are as follows: Bentley - 2lbs, 12oz; Scout - 2lbs, 7oz; Holly - 2lbs, 5oz; Ivy - 2lbs, 2oz; Buck & Noah - 2lbs, 1oz.
We will deworm the puppies today and 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.
As the puppies are becoming aware of the world around them, we want to give them many varied experiences to build their confidence and socialize them well. We keep the new experiences brief and positive in order to show them that new things are safe and interesting. Much of their socialization to a home setting happens without any effort on our part because we raise them in our home in a room right off our kitchen. They hear all the sounds of a kitchen and laundry room - washing machine, timers beeping, family dinner chatter (and just family chatter in general), mixer, radios, and more. As I mentioned previously in the post, we also intentionally take them to different areas of the house. In the photos, you'll see how the children enjoy snuggling them in blankets during these cold winter months and try to get them to fall asleep. All the while, the puppies are learning how to interact with people and their environment. One intentional socialization experience I gave them was turning on a puppy desensitization clip of city noises for them to listen to for a few minutes.
You may wonder why we have a focus on brief, positive, new experience for our puppies. Puppies are naturally open to the world around them. This "window of socialization" closes around a few months old. If puppies learn young to accept new things, they will be much more flexible as an adult to accept new people and places. When you bring an eight week puppy home from us (or any breeder), do not consider them "socialized." We lay a solid foundation of socialization, but then the responsibility rests upon their new families to expose them in positive ways to new things. One of the best things we have done for socialization is basic obedience training at a local dog training club; it's an investment you won't regret!
I'll close with snapshots from the week. Thanks 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!
Independent Field Representative