Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pupdate: The End of the Awareness or Identification Period (21-28 days)

Mr. Yellow
The puppies have had a wonderful 3rd week. They enjoyed a larger space filled with stimulating toys and were exposed to lots more sounds and visitors. During the 3rd week the puppies do not yet know what it means to be “afraid”. They hear a loud noise and they may startle but they just go back to doing what they were doing before their heard it. This is one of the reasons why I love the toy piano. They step on a key and it makes a noise but the puppies learn it’s no big deal.

Miss. Maroon - Day 28
Coco continues to be a great mother and washes and nurses her puppies with great patience and care.  The pups teeth have all begun to emerge and they are using their mouths to explore their world.  They play fight with each other and grab at each others legs and tails with their mouths.  They are also interacting more with their toys.  A couple have even picked them up and carried them for a very short distance.  They are more agile and have gotten quite good at backing up, it’s fun to see them zipping around then throw themselves into reverse. 

There were a couple of times this week when Coco threw up  her food which is all part of the transition to weaning.  In the wild the mothers would regurgitate partially digested food for their babies to eat.  She is still nursing her pups but not as frequently as she did in the beginning and will at times just get up and walk out of the pen when she has decided they are done at the milk bar.  There is inevitably one last hanger-on that valiantly tries to remain attached to the nipple but alas he or she falls off with a resounding plop as the suction is released.  The pups had a great week of steady growth and are now all over four pounds.

One of our biggest priorities at Northrock is the socialization of our puppies.  The critical period of socialization ends when puppies are between 12 and 13 weeks old.  Since our puppies don’t leave for their new homes until between 9 and 10 weeks that leaves a huge burden of responsibility on us to do our utmost best to give these puppies the best start we can.  When the puppies were neonates even before they could see and hear they were handled a lot by our family and by some visitors that came by to see them.  Of course germ control was always carried out and hands were well washed beforehand but the puppies were accustomed to gentle handling from birth.   Music was played regularly and the t.v. was often on in the room so that as their ears began to open they would also become accustomed to loud noises.

Neonate Mr. Brown
Now that their eyes and ears have opened and they are scampering about the puppy pen we have ramped up the things we are doing to maximize their confidence.    Socialization to people is a top priority and during their time here with us they will be exposed to many different people especially men and children.   When visitors are over the puppies learn to enjoy being handled by people.   Our guests are happy to pet and cuddle the puppies.  They gently touch their ears and tails, rub their bellies and look into their eyes.   When the puppies are older they will be given tasty treats by our visitors and they will learn that strangers are WONDERFUL! 

Because young puppies are so vulnerable to germs visitors are asked not to come over if they have been to a high traffic dog area such as dog parks, petsmart stores, dog shows or another kennel.  They are to arrive wearing clean clothes and leave their shoes outdoors.  Hands are carefully washed and sanitized prior to handling puppies.   The risk that puppies could get sick from having visitors to our home to socialize them does exist but we feel that the risk that puppies could grow up to be fearful, shy or wary of strangers is greater if they are not adequately socialized before this critical window closes. 

The radio in the “puppy room” is tuned to a classical radio station so the pups get a steady diet of classical and operatic pieces.  There have been studies done that have shown that classical music can help to relax our dogs and perhaps it does help.  Here is an article that outlines some of the benefits of playing music for our canines.  although our family likes this type of music the pups also listen to a bunch of other selections.  The kitchen radio is tuned to jazz (a personal favourite) and the pop music that the kids sing along too gets heard regularly as well. 
The puppies are also exposed to other sounds that they will encounter once they leave our home.  Some sounds they will hear by nature of living in the “heart of the home” sounds like the doorbell, phone ringing, dishwasher, vacuum cleaner, oven timer, t.v., blender, and microwave beeping.  They hear the cat meowing for her dinner and the other dogs barking.  Our house backs onto a school yard so come next week the puppies will also hear the sounds of children playing at recess, announcements over the loudspeaker and the school bell ringing.  The room where the puppies are located is at the back of the house so in the warmer months they also hear the lawnmower going.  We have a cd that has sounds from a hunt test with guns and duck calls, people’s voices and dog’s barking. And, because the pups are growing up in a home with young children they also hear lots of sounds that come with kids such as toy trains, fire engines, piano practice and the high pitched voices of little kids laughing and at times crying too.  Here is a short video that was taken this past week...

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