B-Litter Diary - Birth to New Homes
Welcome to Part 2 of the diary for our B-Litter from Nena and Kathare. In this diary we will give you a little insight into what goes into raising a litter of puppies here at Espinay. The period of time from birth until the pups go to their new homes is a time of wonder and change. It is also a time of hard work and sleepless nights to ensure mum and pups are given the best of care and the pups get the best start possible to their life.
6 April 2017
The puppies were born today. You can read a little bit about the birth in Part 1 of the diary. This is when the work really starts for both mum and breeder. From now on it is round the clock care for mum and pups. That means not much sleep as mum and pups need to be constantly monitored in the whelping box to ensure no puppies get squashed accidentally and all are drinking well. A happy mum also means happy pups, so Nena needs to have frequent meals and drinks and to be taken outside when she needs to toilet. She needs to have a good supply of calcium to ensure she doesn't get eclampsia, so that means lots of things like goats milk, cottage cheese, yoghurt and a calcium supplement (I like to use a product called Citracal which is Calcium Citrate and does not need to be given with food). I use coloured Velcro puppy bands on the pups for identification purposes. It isn't too hard to tell Pyr pups apart by their markings, but the bands make an easy reference for record keeping and are much easier to pick at 2am in low light when you are dead tired!
7 April 2017
As newborns, the pups are blind and deaf and can not regulate their internal temperature well. To keep warm they need to snuggle close to mum and each other. We also need to make sure the temperature in the whelping box and room stays at a comfortable temperature. It can be a fine balance to keep the room cool enough for mum to be comfortable and warm enough that the pups don't get chilled. Conventional wisdom is that the whelping box should be kept at around 28 degrees Celsius when the pups are newborn, but this can be way too hot to be comfortable for mum, and even too hot for the puppies. Grace (mother of my A-Litter) found even 24 degrees Celsius to be uncomfortable and the pups would spread themselves around the box. After reading some discussions about keeping the area cooler (such as this guidance from Avidog ), for this litter I have settled on keeping the room between 20 and 21 degrees Celsius. Nena is comfortable and happy to stay with her pups, and the pups are happy and are not chilled. Even at this temperature they tend to spread themselves around the box. Other breeds may need higher temperatures, of course, but this seems to be working for us.
8 April 2017
The puppies are all vital and gaining weight well. We weigh them each day to keep a record of their progress. At this age most of them have pink noses, which is normal for a Pyr. Their pigment will develop over the coming weeks. In this litter, the two boys, Mr Red and Mr Yellow (named after their puppy band colours) have some pigment on their nose already. Interestingly, while pigment on the skin increases as they get older, the colour of their markings on their fur generally fades, and sometimes will change colour. Here on the right is a photo of Mr Red who was born with dark badger markings. Note these markings are not black - if you look closely you can see that the hair has shades of brown in it and the colour does not go all the way along the strands. It will be interesting to watch how the colour develops as he grows.
10 April 2017
The pups are growing really well and Nena has plenty of milk. I love to watch them feeding. You can always tell when the milk comes down. Their little tails all curve up and start to quiver.
13 April 2017
Happy 1 week Birthday puppies! Pyr puppies grow so fast. They have now doubled their birth weight. Nena is being a great mother.
14 April 2017
Today the puppies had their first nail trim. Their nails, which are like tiny little hooks at this age, need to be kept trimmed so they don't hurt mum too much when they are drinking. At this age the little hooked tips of the nails are removed with human finger nail clippers. Once they are older, normal dog nail trimmers can be used. Their nails will be trimmed every week until they go to their new home. This also helps them learn that having their feet handled and nails trimmed is no big deal. New owners are encouraged to keep trimming their nails each week for a while so that it becomes part of their routine. Only a tiny bit needs to be taken off each time when you are trimming frequently.
16 April 2017
While I am writing about this now, this is something that has been happening since the pups were three days old and will continue until they are 16 days old. What is it? It is Early Neurological Stimulation or 'ENS' for short. Sometimes also referred to as Bio Sensor or the Superdog Program, ENS is a series of exercises designed to challenge the pup's neurological system and stimulate them to build new neurological pathways. The key reported results of ENS are more tolerance to stress and greater resistance to disease throughout their lifetime. Here is a link for more information about ENS including information on the exercises I do with each of the pups every day.
17 April 2017
Today the puppies have started to open their eyes. They are now entering a transitional period where lots of thing begin to happen. Soon they will be seeing, hearing, toddling about up on their legs and will start interacting more with each other, with objects, with their mother and with us. Let the fun begin!
18 April 2017
Mr Yellow (the boy wearing the yellow collar) is the first to be up and motoring around the box. He also has a new 'friend'. Now that the pups are beginning to react more to their environment, toys are being introduced to the box. Right now it is large stuffed toys that they can cuddle with and rest on. As well as stimulating sight and touch, they also present challenges in the box to get on or over. As the pups get older, different toys will be introduced. These toys will be in a range of shapes, textures and types to help the pups learn to relate to a wide variety of sensations and actions.
20 April 2017.
The pups are now two weeks old. They are starting to see and beginning to be more mobile around the box. They are starting to take an interest in the goats milk that their mother is given while in the box. This is good as it teaches them how to lap and gets them ready for the weaning process which will start in earnest in a couple of weeks. I don't like to introduce foods other than things like goats milk, yoghurt and egg yolk at this stage. Their digestive system is still developing and very immature. Nena is feeding them well too, so no need for supplementary feeding.
24 April 2017
Now that the pups are starting to hear, they are being introduced to a range of different sounds. At this stage of their development they have not yet developed a fear response, so this is a good time to habituate them to noises such as thunder, fireworks, and other loud sounds they may potentially find frightening later. At first they are hearing them with the volume turned down while they are doing pleasant things such as drinking from their mother. They will get to hear noises every day, and gradually over time the volume will be increased. It is also important to play the sounds from different places and heights in the room so they don't learn that thunder only occurs in the bottom left corner of the whelping box. One of my favourite ways to introduce sounds to the puppies is via the Sounds Proof Puppy Training app. The app is available on both iTunes and Google Play. I also like the Puppy Habituation CD available from Legacy Canine.
27 April 2017
The pups are now 3 weeks old. They are much more mobile and are beginning to see and hear a lot better. We begin to stimulate sight and touch by introducing objects to the box. At this stage it is mostly large stuffed toys that they can climb over and start to explore. Over time toys with different textures and shapes will be introduced as well as ones than make different sounds. Another thing I do at this age is changing the surface of the whelping box so it is no longer flat. I do this by placing a rolled up towel under the bedding to create a ridge. This introduces more stimulus and aids proprioception when they learn where to place their feet and how to use their body. As the pups are now more mobile and starting to toilet on their own without stimulation from mum, I also introduce a potty area to the box. While there is varying success with this at this age, as the pups are still toddling and generally don't go more than a few steps when they feel the urge, the pups gradually learn to go in the potty area rather than on their bedding.
30 April 2017
The pups have been stealing their mother's goats milk snacks that she gets in the whelping box after feeding them. So today they were given their own 'meal' for the first time. This is a mix of goats milk, egg and yoghurt. It is served in a 'flying saucer' puppy pan which is designed to help them learn to eat while not standing in the bowl. It sort of works ...
02 May 2017
The pups are nearly 4 weeks old and really enjoying their goats milk snacks, so now it is time to start introducing more foods. That means today is meatshake day! The puppies get raw beef mince (ground beef) mashed into their goats milk mix. No hesitation here. They enjoy it a lot and need a big nap when they are full. Yes, they tend to fall asleep in their bowl.
04 May 2017
The pups have become much more mobile and are becoming experts at escaping the whelping box. It is now time to expand their horizons a bit more by moving them into a pen in our big kitchen/family room. Here they will be subject to many more household noises and will begin to meet the other dogs. Pictured below is the puppies meeting their Great Uncle Hamish for the first time. At this stage they are also getting many more different toys and objects with different shapes, textures and sounds and more different types of surfaces to walk on. They have also started getting more visitors. Trusted friends are coming regularly to visit the pups to help them get used to meeting different people.
07 May 2017
The pups are 4 1/2 weeks old and have their first outside adventure. Over the coming weeks they will spend more and more time outside both in an outdoor pen and exploring under our supervision on their own and with the other dogs. Exploring in the great outdoors brings many benefits. As well as getting fresh air and sunshine, they learn to be on different natural surfaces such as grass, sand, dirt, gravel, pavers, rocks and concrete. They also begin to toilet outside. The pups begin to ask to get out of their pen to toilet (mainly poos at this age) and we take them outside to do their business. This is time consuming but helps greatly with their toilet training and also means cleaner bedding and less smell inside.
19 May 2017
The pups are now 6 weeks old and learning expert life skills from the adult dogs. Louise teaches them about digging ....
21 May 2017
The pups are eating very well now and today they graduate to bowls of their own. The goats milk has been taken out of their meals and other things like pureed vegetables, chicken liver and sardines are beginning to be added to the meat, egg and yoghurt. They also get some dry food (Holistic Select Large and Giant Breed Puppy) added to their meal. They get this mix twice a day now with another meal of raw chicken meaty bones in the morning. Nena is still feeding them, but they are gradually getting less and less feeds from her. The weaning process is slow and natural with a gradual transition from drinking mums milk to eating solid foods.
24 May 2017
The puppies went on their first car ride today. It was a short ride just to start to get them used to being in a car. Nena went with them. They got lots of treats in the car. They will get more car rides over the coming weeks so that cars will become not such as big deal.
27 May 2017
More visitors today! The puppies get to meet lots of different people of different ages and looks. They learn that people are fun! Friends and prospective puppy owners are visiting often to spend time with the puppies. The puppies enjoy this as much as the visitors do.
As well as people and the other dogs, the puppies have also been meeting other animals. They get to see and meet the chickens as well as sheep and horses. They also get to meet the cats, Teagah and Twistie. Teagah and Twistie are very used to dogs and happy to be politely investigated by inquisitive puppies.
28 May 2017
The puppies are 7 weeks old and have been learning lots of things over the past few weeks. At this age they learn things very fast. It is often hard to think that only a few weeks ago they were little helpless blobs. One of the skills they have been learning is 'manding'. Basically this means that when they want something, they learn to automatically sit politely to ask for it. They are now manding to come out of their pen and for treats.
1 June 2017
The pups are now 8 weeks old. This week the pups were vaccinated and had their full vet check. The pups have also been microchipped. Over the past few weeks they have been exploring more and more, climbing over objects and running up and down the hilly slopes. They are developing excellent balance and proprioception and gaining confidence while exploring new things daily. 'Family outings' down into the orchard paddock are a highlight this week.
This week the pups were also assessed and it was decided which pups were to go to which homes as well as which pup was to stay with us. Potential homes have already been chosen carefully to ensure they are suitable for a Pyrenean. It is now that those homes on the waiting list are considered for the specific pups. A lot of work goes into matching the puppies with their new homes with many important factors taken into account. The personality and potential of each of the pups is considered as well as things like the needs and lifestyle of their new family and what activities they plan to do with their pup.
10 June 2017
Today the puppies start leaving to go to their new homes. This is a bittersweet time. We are sad that they are leaving and shed more than a few tears when each of them leave. It is hard to let them go. However, we are happy to see the pups beginning their journey in their new homes and share the excitement of their new owners. We know we have given them the best start we can. Now we can enjoy watching them grow and flourish in their wonderful new homes.