Monday, November 4, 2013
Obie and Mona’s puppies are now 4 weeks old. The time is flying by but we are careful not to waste these important early weeks. Our last post celebrated the puppies turning 1 week old. Since then they have completed the Neo-Natal Period (1 - 14 days) and we wrapped up the Bio-sensor and Early Scent Stimulation exercises. The puppies begin their time with us in a guest bedroom and they remain there during the Neo-natal Period and through the Transitional Period (14 - 21 days). They are handled frequently not just by our own family but by friends that stop by to gently hold them and cuddle with them. We are always very careful to practice germ control but we do feel that socialization should begin even when they are still very young.
During the Transitional Period the puppies eyes open and their hearing develops. We keep the lights low in the room during the days when their eyes are opening. Once everyone’s eyes are open, shortly thereafter normal lighting resumes. We have a television in the room which we use as the low level of changing light that it emits has been said to help the brain to develop. It is the same with low level sounds, so we have classical music playing at a low volume to facilitate auditory stimulation. We add some novel items to the whelping box such as soft stuffed animals, little balls and different footing for the puppies in the form of bath mats and small carpets.
During their third week the puppies enter the Awareness or Identification Period (21 - 28 days). [For more details about these periods in a puppy’s development see Pat Hasting’s book Another Piece of the Puzzle: Puppy Development] Now the pups make the big move downstairs into our dining room which is adjacent to the family room and kitchen and right smack in the heart of our home. Since they now can use all of their senses they are exposed to all the sights, sounds and smells of our home. They are still using the whelping box but we have added a potty box. We have found this to be very helpful in encouraging the puppies to eliminate in a separate area. We also add a small play area that over time gradually is enlarged to accommodate their growing needs.
Pups have dangling toys, and noisy toys, toys that roll and squeak, toys that they can pick up and toys to climb over. The radio is often set to the classical music station because we like all the different sounds that the many varied instruments make. We also play a few different cds of various sounds to help further expose the pups to noises that they might encounter outside the home such as thunderstorms, fireworks, gun shots, airplanes etc....
The big dogs in the house are now invited to meet the puppies and interact with them through the puppy pen. Even our resident cat Daphne has come to check them out!
When the puppies turned 4 weeks old we introduced them to their first meal of solids. Which was ground turkey with bone and goat’s milk. They enjoyed it immensely.
Visitors are now coming over on a regular basis to help socialize the puppies. We aim to have them have many positive interactions with a myriad of different people by the time they leave for their new homes.