How We Raise Our Puppies
Puppy raising is both an art and a science. Do something at the right time, the puppy benefits for his/her entire life, do the same thing at an inappropriate time, and the puppy can be damaged for his/her entire life. We want to raise puppies who will grow into confident, stable, and resilient adult dogs, able to handle the stresses and challenges of a modern lifestyle. This takes both expertise and a time investment, but it’s absolutely worth it. In our desire to raise the most behaviorally sound, confident, stable puppies possible, we introduce and implement numerous techniques and programs (Early Neurological Stimulation, Early Novel Scent Introduction, Puppy Culture, etc.). Below is a just a snippet of some of the things we do with the puppies while they’re here.
Our puppy raising program is designed to give each and every puppy the best start in life. Through nutrition, stimulation, handling, grooming, and socialization, we prepare each puppy for joining their new family and to make this transition as seamless as possible. Research shows that dogs raised in an enriched environment tend to be more inquisitive, adept at performing difficult tasks, and are more intelligent because of their experiences while young. Stimulated puppies have also been found to be more active and more exploratory than their non-stimulated littermates. At AllAround we have found early neurological stimulation combined with our other handling and socialization techniques help our puppies house train easier, learn faster, and have an overall sense of well-being. We have recently discovered the Puppy Culture program and have begun implementing that as well.
From birth, each puppy is imprinted and nurtured with individual attention. We provide gentle daily handling and individual attention throughout the first few weeks of our puppies' lives. Our puppies are gently handled using a series of exercises to produce brain wave activity. We rub their toes, massage their ears, put our fingers in their mouths, etc., several times per day. Handling the puppies teaches them to relax and trust human interaction, even before their eyes and ears are open. When they're old enough, the puppies are moved to an active area of the home where they can experience many sights, smells, and sounds. We hang bright toys above their heads to help them learn to focus. In the play pen we provide various things for the puppies to climb on, under, and through to develop physically and mentally. As they develop we begin providing regular environmental enrichment activities including adding things that move, and obstacles such as tunnels, ramps, puppy teeter-totter, and wobble boards. We systematically expose all of our puppies to new objects, flooring types, and problem solving opportunities. This type of environmental enrichment enhances intelligence, confidence, learning, and resiliency.
Studies have shown that touching and caressing the mom (specifically her belly) while pregnant leads to calmer and more docile puppies. Let's be honest, that's a win-win for everyone! We love nothing more than to cuddle with our pregnant moms and give them a good belly rub!
Weeks 1 & 2
The first two weeks are all about balance – you want to provide early neurological stimulation while at the same time allowing them plenty of quite alone time to develop naturally. The puppies are kept warm in their whelping box, where they can nurse as much as they want. They are monitored closely throughout the day. They are raised on special bedding that allows them to have traction while crawling around on their tummies. We gently handle and weigh each puppy multiple times per day. We start trimming toe nails weekly as soon as the puppies are born, both for the mother’s comfort and to get them used to it. Starting on Day #3 and continuing until Day #16, we perform Early Neurological Stimulation and Novel Scent Introduction.
Puppy enrichment begins with soft toys and warm beds. Puppies begin receiving visitors as socialization starts. From 3-12 weeks old is the most important socialization period in a dog’s life. During this time it is extremely important to introduce the puppies to as many people, pets, places and things as possible. Starting at 3 weeks, we introduce a new toy or object to the puppies every single day. Puppies continue to be handled, weighed, and temperature taken daily.
During this week we introduce them to a litter box for elimination. When introduced early, the puppies “potty train” quickly and will seek out the litter box for bathroom breaks. Not only does this keep the puppy pen clean, it makes it extremely easy to potty train the puppies in their new homes. During this time we also introduce the startle/recovery program and begin foundation exercises for the prevention of separation anxiety.
Puppies are moved into a larger weaning pen, with age appropriate enrichment. Emotional Resiliency Exercises are done, giving the puppies the gift of “bounce back” from life challenges. Problem solving games are introduced, these help puppies learn to handle life’s frustrations early. Crate training starts! Crates are introduced to the weaning pen (doors removed) comfy beds are placed inside to encourage puppies to nap in crates. We start to introduce raw goats milk and puppy gruel to begin the weaning process. At this age they are still mostly nursing but they start to show interest in yummier options! We trim nails, bathe, brush, blow out and practice being handled on a grooming table.
During this time we introduce them to noise desensitization. We use CDs, noise machines, audio tracks and home appliances to desensitize the puppies to as many sounds as possible. In addition to regular noises (city traffic, thunder storms, crying babies, fireworks, etc.), we also introduce them to sounds they may hear later in life like dog shows, agility competitions, farm animals, etc. With each new noise, we start quiet and increase the severity of the sounds as they grow and develop.