The time flies by – I cannot believe I have had these darling babies with me for four weeks already and in another four weeks they will be gone! Well more or less… a couple of them are coming straight back for holidays – no rest for the wicked eh?
For the first few weeks, when they are just eating and sleeping, caring for puppies is pretty straightforward. Just feed the mum a bit more food and a bit more often (up to 6 times a day for Busy!) That is true, although I find myself getting up in the night to see to Busy, check the pups and often embark on a round of feeding and clearing up after them.
By 4 weeks of age, the puppies are starting to get up to all sorts! They are running (well it’s more of a scamper really) and are much more aware of their surroundings. They are able to go outside and immediately prefer to toilet on the grass, both artificial and real. Once they have access to the garden, they rarely poo in the run.
I remember a couple with a young baby telling Chris and I that they had got into a ‘good routine’ with him. We laughed (to ourselves). When babies and puppies are growing, the routine changes almost every day.
I am trying to make sure that the pups have access to solid (mushy) food around 5 or 6 times a day, but equally, I want Busy to continue feeding them for as much as she feels able to do. So I let her in, put food down, clean the run, put them outside, feed her and watch them play. But not necessarily in that order! How much food? As much as they can eat of course!
‘Hobby’ vs ‘commercial’ breeder
I have been really struck this time by how much care and attention I pay to my puppies. As I’ve said, they are easy, in lots of ways. I can see why people might think it’s a ‘nice little earner’ to have sheds in the garden with litters of puppies, left to their own devices.
That’s not me. In four weeks, I have changed the ‘set-up’ of their bed and run four times, making it bigger and more interesting each time. They have a variety of toys to play with. They are picked up and checked over by me every single day. The puppies know my voice and run over to me when I go into their run.
If you want to know more about how to identify a commercial breeder, or puppy farmer, read this blog post.
Visitors – dogs and people
Most importantly of all, my puppies get to meet all sorts of people and they learn to interact with other dogs! I managed to capture on video how magical this can be – Ounce and Cassie, playing for the first time. This is really, really important, because it teaches the puppies about the wider dog community. Not all dogs are mum, not all are milk machines and not all are patient and tolerant. Learning this takes time, but will make a huge difference to their ability to go out into the world.
If you want to visit (friends and family only, sorry), please get in touch? I could do with a few more children… And remember, if you want to make sure you don’t miss a pupdate, please follow the website? CONTACT ME for more information?