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Posts Tagged ‘puppies’

Raising a litter of puppies isn’t just feeding and cleaning up after them!  It also involves lots of hands-on loving, socialization and enrichment activities (exposing the puppies to a variety of toys, places, surfaces).  We’ve been doing that with our litter of lab puppies since they were 3 days old! 

At about 5 weeks old we introduce them to crate training.  They already have a large crate without a door in their pen that they can go in and out whenever they want.  Some sleep in it, others play with their toys.   In addition, we have another small crate in the living room for individual training.  We put a couple pieces of their food and a toy in the crate, show it to them, let them walk into the crate on their own and explore.  We hold the door closed for just a minute, then let them out.  We repeat this again and again, keeping the door closed for longer periods each time.   The puppy might whine and protest at first, but they quickly get used to it.  They have never been separated from their littermates before, so this is an excellent way to show them how to relax in their own safe, cozy den by themselves.   Click here for  an article by Michele Forto of Denver Dog Works that explains some of the many good reasons to crate train your puppy. 

Please leave a comment about your experiences or questions about crate training!

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Here’s more about breeding and raising Whispering Pines Farm puppies –

10.  At 4 weeks old, the puppies are really active!  They play and wrestle with each other, biting on ears and tails.  We started weaning them from Sunny now, giving them a liquidy mash of  dry food soaked in water, then blended with a little of the canine milk replacer.  We use the same dry food that all our dogs eat – Life’s Abundance by HealthyPetNet.  It is formulated by a holistic vet, and good for ALL life stages, including puppies.  No hesitation here, they all lapped it right up!  Over the next week we will gradually decrease the liquid until they are eating slightly soaked food, then all dry.  The more food that goes in, the more there is to clean up!  So we use lots of newspaper and change their bedding twice a day.  Watch a Video:  

11.  At 5 weeks old, we start allowing visitors.  They love visiting time!  They get to play in the living room, smell new smells and bite new fingers and toes!  They weigh between 5-6 lbs now, and are growing fast!  We use only pe t& planet-safe cleaning products around the puppies – Floor Cleaner  from HealthyPetNet  (they also have an awesome biodeodorizer for pet accidents) and disinfectant with tea tree oil from Melaleuca.  We expose them to all the normal sights and sounds of a household, including banging pots & pans, the vacuum cleaner, and something new everyday.   That might be getting their toenails clipped, playing with duck wings, meeting the other dogs and cat, and going for a ride in the car.  The more they experience now, the easier the transition will be for them in their new homes.   And that’s the best gift of all – knowing these puppies will bring joy and companionship to 9 loving families!  More Video

There’s so much more, but I think that’s enough for now.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Have a Happy, Healthy and Abundant New Year!

Janet

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That’s what I’ve been doing since our lab puppies were born on 11/22/09!   And with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all the extra activities, I haven’t had time to post here.  I’m on vacation from my J-O-B for 2 weeks, so I thought I would tell you a little bit about how we breed & raise our pups.  

1.  Selecting a Stud

First of all, choosing a stud dog is of utmost importance – it will be 1/2 the new puppies gene pool!   We breed because we love labs and want to enhance the breed.  We choose to use Deep Farm studs because they operate one of the finest breeding, training and canine health care facilities in North America. Owners Phyllis Giroux, DVM CAC and Jack Jagoda, co-founder and past president of the North American Hunting Retriever Association (NAHRA), have the absolute best all-round labs available.  Our Whispering Pines Midnight Sun SH “Sunny” was bred to Deep Run Retriever’s AM/CAN/UKC CH Poplar Forest Play It Again Sam, MH “Sam” who is a conformation Champion as well as a Master Hunter.   Since Phyllis specializes in canine reproduction, we feel confident leaving our girls with her during the breeding process.  Gestation time is 63 days.

2.   We started curtailing Sunny’s activity level a couple weeks before her due date.  She is definitely looking pregnant!    An excellent resource is The Whelping and Rearing of Puppies by Muriel P. Lee.   Nursing moms need up to 300% more nutrients than normal, so we start feeding her more in advance.

3.   Sunny took a trip to the vets the week before the puppies were due and had xrays taken so we knew approximately how many puppies to expect (sometimes they hide behind each other, so it’s not always accurate).  The vet saw 8 to 9 puppies!

4.  We start taking her temperature a few days before her due date.  When her temp drops to 99 or 98 degrees and stays down, the whelping will be soon.  My husband and I took turns sleeping on the couch and keeping an eye on her.

5.  Sunny started nesting on 11/21, and was busy all morning on the 22nd, circling her whelping box and ripping up newspapers.  Finally, she had her first puppy at 5 pm.  It was large, about 1 lb, (a yellow male). This was Sunny’s first litter, and she had quite a tough time with him , so Bill and I and our nephew Jesse helped with the birth.  Sunny was very surprised when she saw the pup for the first time and I wish I had a camera ready to take a picture of the expression on her face!  A couple of sniffs was all it took for her to realize this was her pup, and she started nursing him right away.  We named the puppy Jesse after our nephew.   Sunny had 6 puppies from 5 pm to about 10 pm, then seemed to say, that’s it, I’m done!  But we knew there were at least 2 more pups waiting to be born.   So a few phone calls with the vet and more waiting, we took a trip to the vet’s at midnight.  He administered a shot of Oxytocin to stimulate her contractions, and the last 3 puppies were born within a 1/2 hour.  Whew!   Back home by 1 a.m., put mom and all the puppies back in the whelping box, and were glad to see them all nursing contently! 

6.  We weigh the puppies twice a day in the beginning to be sure they are all gaining weight.  All the puppies were between 14-16 oz at birth, all good weights, so we did not need to give any of them milk supplements.  We have in the past, and we use an excellent milk replacer made from actual canine milk (most milk replacer is from cow’s milk), from Nature’s Farmacy.  The first 2 weeks of life are critical, because the puppies are so fragile.  They can easily be injured or chilled.  They cannot regulate their own body heat, so we make sure the room temperature is about 80 degrees.  Again, we took turns on the couch so we were close enough to hear if a puppy was in distress.  Sunny took care of the feeding & cleaning up! 

7.  Between Days 3-16, we perform exercises called “Early Neurological Stimulation”.  These exercises were developed by the U.S. military canine program, and have been shown to improve the adult dog’s adaptability, performance, health and intelligence.  It only takes about 1 minute per puppy and they get used to be handled and held in different positions.  Many studies have shown that there are 3 important stages in a puppy’s development: neurological stimulation, socialization, and enrichment.  We make it a point to do everything possible so the puppies get all 3 of these important stages.

8.  At Day 14, all the puppies’ eyes and ears were open.  They begin exploring their world (limited by the 4’x4′ whelping box), but mostly still just eat and sleep.

9.  At 3 weeks old, the puppies are getting too big for the whelping box – they are climbing out & escaping!  We removed the box and set up 2 exercise pens in the middle of the kitchen to give them plenty of room to explore and play.  And a crate at one end to sleep in.  They’re teeth are starting to come in – ouch!  Watch a video of the pups here:

To Be Continued

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Thanks to my friend Teresa at Holistic Pet Food Blog for the following article on safe pet foods.  I have to add – you get what you pay for, especially when it comes to quality pet food.   I didn’t know that until 5 years ago when I started researching pet food ingredients – wow, what an eye-opener!  I personally found HealthyPetNet to be right for my pets.  Here’s the article:

“If you really want the very best, the very safest foods for your pet, look for dog food and cat food that comes from USDA APHIS-certified plants.  These are high-end foods!

USDA APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) Registered – APHIS registry certifies that the pet food company purchases all of their meats from USDA registered suppliers who follow all USDA regulations for safe meat handling. USDA is, of course, US-sourced. It can apply to both the meat and the grains used in the pet food.

Many of these foods are only available at natural grocers or specialty pet products stores.  If you don’t have one of these stores nearby, try HealthyPetNet as they are mail order. 

Natural pet products company whose pet food is USDA APHIS certified:

Artemis

==> Fresh Mix Adult Dog Food 30 lbs for $41.99 to $51.99 = $1.40 – 1.73 per lb

Eagle Pack

==> Holistic Select Chicken Meal and Rice 16.5 lbs for $28.99 + $18.25 S&H = $2.86 per lb.

HealthyPetNet 

==> Life’s Abundance Health Food for Dogs 20 lbs for $35.25 plus $7.75 S&H = $2.14 per pound (autoship for 20% discount, reduce S&H by shipping multiple bags)

Kumpi

==> 20 lbs for $36, free S&H = $1.80

Natura Pet
==> They make Innova, Evo, Mother Nature, California Natural, Healthwise, and Karma.

Precise Pet Products

==> 30 lbs for $38.99 + 18.25 S&H = $1.91

This list is incomplete, please notify me via the comments when you find a pet food that is USDA APHIS-certified.”

-Janet

 

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You may have seen this story last Mother’s Day, but I just happened across it today.   You just have to watch this short news segment about a very sweet dog that nursed a litter of orphaned kittens (yes, KITTENS)!   And other inter-species mothering too.   It seems that the mothering instinct is stronger than anything else, even between predator and prey.

http://cbs5.com/pets/dog.urses.kittens.2.721960.html

This reminds me of a similar experience we had once.  My husband & I raise labrador retrievers, and we had trouble with one litter when Midnight, the mother, needed emergency surgery, was in the hospital for a week & could not nurse the puppies.   It also happened to be the only time we had 2 litters at the same time.   We thought the other mother, Princess Bala, might accept the Midnight’s  puppies & nurse them too.  We were a little nervous at first but no need, Bala immediately accepted the other puppies!  We were amazed and delighted.  She nursed a total of 21 puppies until Midnight was able to take over –   she did an incredible job & saved the litter! 

Bala passed away in 2008 and we miss her every day.  But we still see her in her offspring – she was the mother of 4 of the dogs we have now, and grandmother of 1.  She had boundless energy and a happy disposition, but she was definitely the alpha of the pack!  We’ll never forget her.

Janet Makarick-Roberts

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