Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Coco x Dougy Puppies Visit the Farm

Today I celebrated the puppies 8th week anniversary with a field trip to the farm.  The past week with the pups has been fantastic and I will post a pupdate recapping their 7th week soon.  But for now, I am grinning from ear to ear and so very happy about our day and how much fun the puppies had...

I had the most wonderful day today with the Coco x Dougy puppies.  I am still smiling.  They are the most incredibly special puppies.  We went to visit a friend’s farm that’s about an hour away from home but with traffic it ended up being an hour and a half long car ride.  People thought I was crazy to attempt it with 11 - 8 week old puppies but we did it!  They were really, really good.  Someone cried for the first 15 minutes (I have no idea who it was), then everyone just settled in for the drive.  When we got there and let everyone out they made their pees on the grass and all was well!  Tails up and wagging and happy as clams.  No one soiled their crates, no big throw ups!  Woo hoo!  These puppies are soooo good :0) 
Huge thanks to Helle for inviting us to visit and for her and Shannon’s help taking these guys on nature walks, introducing them to the chukars and pheasant and even the resident chickens.

I had to run some errands on the way home so the puppies were in the car for a long 2 hour drive back.  I didn’t hear a peep out of them and with all the activity and fresh air they slept like little angels for the whole ride home.  Once we got home they went straight into the outdoor pen and made their pees!  No mess in any of the crates… they are superstars, every last one of them!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pupdate: Socialization Continues… (Week 6)

The pups have had a wonderful 6th week full of new experiences and lots of love and affection.

Our weekly weigh-in puts the pups collectively over 100 pounds.   Wow no wonder I’m going through so much food!
Mr. Yellow enjoys lunch al fresco
Here at Northrock we believe in giving our puppies the best start in life that we can.  This includes; feeding a nutritious species appropriate diet, giving the puppies lots of access to fresh air and sunshine, positive interaction with the older dogs, new toys to stimulate them and lots and lots of socialization to people.  It is imperative that our puppy families continue to socialize their puppies once they go home but it’s my job as a breeder to get them started while they are here. 

Our family feels strongly that the socialization that occurs when the puppy is under 13 weeks old is so critical that in our home we go out of our way to give our pups careful and positive exposure to the many things they could possibly encounter in their adult lives. 

Exposing the puppies to a wide range of people continued this week with lots of wonderful visits from neighbours and friends as well as the puppies new families. 

Daily interaction with the adult dogs that live in our home has been beautiful to watch.  Here is a video clip of two of the puppies playing with Coco and Sophie from earlier in the week.
Mr. White and Mr. Brown - first car ride
Exposing the puppies to a range of environments is in full swing this week with puppies going in groups of 2 for car rides where they got to ride in a kennel and drive around for a while then arrive at a new place for a visit.  Big thanks to all our friends and family who are opening up their homes for us to come and visit.

Miss. Purple and Mr. Gray play tug of war in Oma's kitchen
New experiences in different environments are said to help the puppies grow up to be dogs that are comfortable with changes such as visiting friends, going on vacations etc.

Miss. Red has a spaw day
The puppies experienced their first bath and blow dry sessions this week and lots of grooming and handling. 
The Coco and Dougy puppies are a complete delight.  They are learning to come when called, to potty in the right place, proper bite inhibition and good chew toy habits and they are picked up and held several times a day.  It’s impossible not to cuddle them as they are simply adorable.

The Canadian Kennel Club’s  Barbet breed standard denotes that a Barbet should be of “even temperament, neither aggressive nor nervous, tractable, very devoted to his master, good mixer”...  By socializing the puppies now while they are so young we hope to help them continue to be the friendly, confident, companionable and sociable dogs that the breed is known to be.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Socialization and Curiosity Period – 5 to 6 weeks.

Today the puppies turned 6 weeks old.  They have grown enormously during the past week.  At the weigh in today we had two puppies over 8 pounds, 7 puppies over 7 pounds and two puppies over 6 ½ pounds.  They are certainly an armful! 
The socialization of these puppies is in full swing.  At this point we regularly have repeat visitors which are always lovely but the introduction of new people to the puppies has also continued.  It’s very important that the puppies have as many positive interactions with strangers as possible during this critical period.  They need to “habituate” to all sorts of people.  I want these puppies to be happy to meet anyone regardless of how they look, move or sound.  Needless to say it’s pretty busy at our house.
In addition to socialization to people the puppies have continued to have exposure to various different noises.  They are spending time outside each day and this week they heard the loud sounds of the lawnmower, power tools, school bells ringing and noisy children playing outside at recess.  Having neighbours doing renovation work and backing onto to an elementary school have been a real bonus!  These puppies are learning not to be concerned by loud sounds.  They merrily continue doing what they were doing when the noise starts up, whether this is playing or sleeping or eating.  It’s no big deal to these pups.

New toys are regularly introduced to the puppies.  They enjoyed splashing in the baby pool, playing on their balance board and the skateboard and rolling, tugging and carrying around the various smaller toys.  It’s fun to watch them explore their environment.  Of course at this age garden pots, leaves and twigs are also fascinating toys! 

They spend time with the big dogs each day too and together Coco, Sophie and Quincy are helping to teach the puppies important dog-dog social skills.
The pups are having regular time up on the grooming table and are getting used to being combed and brushed and having their ears, feet and mouths examined. 
The week ended with the pups turning 6 weeks old. With the help of my friends Chris and Sandra we were able to get stacked side and front photos of the puppies.  Not an easy task and I am very thankful to them for their help!
The A-Team Boys

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pupdate: The End of the Second Awareness / Identification Week (28 – 35 days)

It has been a busy week here for the Coco and Dougy puppies.  Our Northrock “A” Litter has done a lot of growing over the last several days with all of the puppies now weighing over 5 pounds and some of them crossing over into the 6 pound range.   They’ve got sharp little teeth and they are learning how to use them!  I now venture into the puppy pen with socks on my feet.
 4 and 1/2 weeks old.
The puppies make a wide range of vocalizations from wimpers to yips to little puppy growls.  They are also much more agile and are able to climb up onto the stools and the overturned bin.  They are much quicker on their feet and it's fun to watch them when they really get going.  I’m pleased to say the litter training is going very well.  We’ve expanded their litter area and they now have a large 2’ x 4’ pan in which to do their business.  They haven’t made any poops in their whelping box for days now and although we do sometimes get a poop outside of the litter box it is not very frequent so I’d say for puppies that have just turned 5 weeks old this is a good success rate. 

The puppy pen at 4 1/2 weeks (day 32).
We’ve gradually been making their puppy pen larger not wanting to give them too much space too quickly so as to keep them using their litter area.  Now the pen is almost 9’ x 9’ which is a decent size for them to romp around in. We may get a few more pees and poops outside the box with the larger space but they are very smart puppies and I think they will adjust well.  New toys are regularly added and they are enjoying the cat tunnel. 

Puppy pen - day 35.

We’ve continued to have people over to visit with the puppies and we’ve begun taking the puppies outside for some fresh air.  In addition to some of the families that will be adopting puppies we’ve also had several visits from friends and neighbours which is so nice. 

Here are a few videos from the past week:
Day 32
Day 35
Day 35

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...