There is so much more to puppy rearing then holding and loving puppies! We follow a curriculum that takes the parts of Puppy Culture and Badass Breeder Curriculums that I have found to be most beneficial in raising my puppies! What does that look like? I wanted to create a page so that you could read more about what goes into our puppies!

WEEKS 1-2: The most important thing in the first few weeks of life is to keep puppies warm, monitor them daily for weight gain, hold them gently for brief periods of time, and keep their area clean! This is our puppy nursery.

We add ENS on day 3.

ENS - or early neurological stimulation:  Research has shown that applying mild stressors to a very young puppy for a short period of time is thought to reduce their stress responses later in life. Studies have also shown that it can improve cardiovascular performance, stronger heart beats, stronger adrenal glands and greater resistance to disease. This is a time of rapid neurological growth and development. So from days 3-16 we do 5 short exercises with each puppy. For 5 seconds in each position we hold them in a vertical position with head up, then flip them so head is down, we hold them supine in our hands, place them on a cool wash cloth, and tickle each of their paws with a q-tip. I also introduce them to a new scent each of these days as well. 


WEEK 3: This is an exciting period of time as puppy eyes and ears are both open and working now. Puppies start to find their legs and explore their new world! Starting on day 21 we introduce a new object into their pen every day. It is something that is stable, doesn't make noise or move around easily. (a box of crackers, banana, etc). Puppies will seem a little nervous to approach at first but quickly find out the object is safe! This is a huge part of building up nerve strength in puppies and teaching them not to fear things they are not familiar with. We also make short loud noises like bang on the wall once, run a vacuum outside the room, etc to expose them to noises that might startle them but they learn to recover! This week we introduce gentle handling exercises as well which we do every day until they go home! GENTLE HANDLING EXERCISES: We start out very soft with this and add a little more pressure each week! We have found that puppies learn to not only tolerate being touched - but to enjoy it and desire that from their owners! The 10 exercises that we do are:  rub their ears, cover their eyes, run fingers over gums/teeth, rub belly in circular motion, rub hand down back, touch tail, touch all the paws, tap the nails, run fingers around collar, and touch their nose. We strongly encourage you to continue this at home! (notice the mask! I figure in the world we live in today they need to get used to seeing masks!)


WEEK 4: Another big week in puppy development. For our exposure object this week, we add things to the pen that move. So this might be a ball or toy car. Puppies might be a little nervous as they approach this new item and it moves but once again quickly learn that it is not to be feared! We move puppies into a larger play area and add a litter box. Puppies naturally want to keep their sleeping area clean so they are quick to start using this! We also introduce them to puppy mush to start transitioning them over to food! Problem solving challenges might also happen around this time and continue through the weeks...we put a little barrier in front of them and they have to go over the top or around it...maybe cross a little area with blocks, go through a tunnel, etc! Keep their little brains firing! Also one at a time we take the puppies out by themselves for short periods to help prevent seperation anxiety later in life!


WEEK 5: I add exposure items that move and make noise like a toddler toy! Once again the goal is to build nerve strength so that you do not have a fearful skittish dog! We transition puppies over to kibble that is soaked and soft and I also introduce them to my play area in our main room. There is always lots of action here so they get used to kitchen sounds, doorbells, laughing, often loud children, etc! I also start to put a kennel in their area with the door always open so they can explore the concept of a dog kennel! Around this time we also start taking puppies outside to potty several times a day and they all LOVE the backyard and exploring! This also might be around the time when I give them their first experience with a bath! 


WEEK 6: Week 6 is a very social time for a puppy. This is a great time to intoduce new friends and faces to them. We try to find people with all different looks, and different ages to visit and help our little puppies continue on the path to being confident and secure! We start to work on manding. When I approach their pen I will stand there with tiny pieces of boiled chicken and reward the puppy who is sitting. It does not take them long to figure out the behavior I am looking for! This is also when they go to the vet for a check up and we do puppy selection. By this time we have helped puppies learn that it is time for bedtime by dimming the lights, playing soft music, and shutting the doors for short periods in their kennels. Usually I have 2 puppies in a kennel and after they fall asleep I will tip toe in and open the door so they can still get out in the night. I like them to learn how to fall asleep in the kennel but don't want to overstress them. We want every experience associated with the kennel at this age to be positive.


WEEK 7: Still continuing with exposure items daily, gentle handling exercises and many of the things listed above. This week we really work on manding (sitting in front of a person). I do this one on one as well as in a group! We also start going on car rides, introduce them to an airplane carrier if going on a flight, and do exercises to prevent resource guarding. You do this by giving a puppy a bone and let them start to enjoy that. I then reach in and take the bone and immediately reward them with something better like chicken and then give the bone back. I do this several times so that they associate something being taken from them in a positive way - not the opposite! We also start pushing individual time in crates! 


WEEK 8: Puppies go to their new homes

There are so many other small components to puppy rearing! I wanted to give you a glimpse into how we raise our puppies so that you will understand a little more about our program! One thing I didn't mention is how often we are washing and cleaning the puppy areas. I am a clean freak and want to keep my home orderly and smelling nice so as you can imagine this involves lots and lots of cleaning! More importantly though it keeps our puppies healthy and safe. We deworm our new puppies regularly as well to do everything we can to keep them healthy and strong!