The Litter's Early Life, Week 4

Note: The following information, unless otherwise noted, is taken directly from the Web pages Cathy created for this litter. It is reprinted here with permission.

October 30, 2001

Week Four (Days 22-28)


  • Begin to eat food
  • Begin to bark, wag tails, bite, paw, bare teeth, growl and chase
  • Use legs well
  • Tire easily
  • Depth perception starts

October 31, 2001

Weaning generally begins between three and four weeks of age, depending on the mother and how the pups' teeth are coming in. Mom will usually decide she doesn't like being with those pups as much as before and will only let them nurse for a very short time. Those teeth hurt. I like to let the mom set the time of actual weaning, but supplemental feeding starts now.

Sometimes a mom will signal its time for the pups to try eating by regurgitating her own food up for the. Many times puppies will begin to experiment with their mother's food when she is fed. If a breeder/owner observes this, this is one signal to start getting serious about teaching the puppies to eat out of a pan. There are many dog people who simply allow the pups to learn through observing their mother and experimenting on their own how to eat. Unfortunately, there are two major objections to this method. Some dams will snarl and snap at the pups for taking, or attempting to take, her food. This does not help the learning process. The other objection is that the food the adult dam is eating is not the food that will satisfy the nutritional needs of the puppies. The digestive system of puppies is simply not ready for this quantum leap. The easy way is not always the right way. In this case, it could lead to malnourished and underdeveloped pups.

There are many formulas for making puppy mush. Some mix Gerber's rice cereal with evaporated milk. Any of the milk replacers mixed with baby cereal. (Esbilac, FirstBorn, Nutrience. Later softened puppy food and ground meat will be added. Never use regular cow's milk for the pups. Puppies can't digest cow's milk and will get the runs. If you are lucky enough to have it available, you can use goat's milk. It's even better than canned. Make sure you are using regular evaporated milk (like Carnation or Pet) and not condensed milk (like Eagle Brand Condensed Milk).

The first feedings are very messy! The pups aren't sure what to do, so many walk through the mush. I use a puppy pan called a flying saucer. It has a raised center, to keep the pups from laying in the food. You can do the same thing using a large flat pan, and turn a bowl upside down in the center. It keeps the food in a circular troth. The pups then lick the food off themselves and each other. Gabby then goes in and cleans up the mess!


November 1, 2001

The pups were wormed for the second time. Used Nemex-2.

The pups are just starting to play with each other. They are still uncoordinated, and when they try to pounce on each other, often times they loose balance and go tumbling away. Some make puppy growling sounds, bark and bite at each others ears. This interaction is very important for them to learn acceptable canine behavior, and bite inhibition. Later Gabby will also teach them what is acceptable play, and what is not. The pups have several kinds of toys in the whelping box. Fleece squeaky toys, toys with rattles, bells hard rubber toys, and even one of Gabby's rawhide chews. The pups check out these items, but as of yet haven't played with them. Several times a day, each pup is handled, stroked and talked to. The pups are briefly set on the floor outside the whelping box, then returned to mom. Hopefully this shows them that every stressful stimuli ends, and they have the comfort of mom and littermates. (Maybe this will help it not be as frightening for the first guy that makes it out of the box!)

November 2, 2001

Today the pups were taken in pairs and placed on a surface they had not encountered before. I used the deck since it is such a mild day. I watched to see which pups stuck with each other, and which pups ventured out to explore. Some of the pups pretty much stayed on their bellies and just crawled forward to sniff the ground. Some just sat and looked around. A few came over to me. (I sat a good distance away) Depth perception is just starting, so they would not know how close I was. The ones that came to me had a good walk. Most of the pups cried just a bit, or at least made little whining sounds. All the while I told them what good puppies they are. When they are fed, I like to tell them good puppy... gooood puppy. To hopefully get them to associate praise words with a good physical feeling. (Full bellies). The whole trip only lasted about two minutes, they they returned to the whelping box. Since this is a time when the pups senses have become awakened, I like to give them neutral and positive stimuli, without stressing them too much.

Liver Boys Black Boys Liver Girls Black Girls
Crawled around crying and sniffing.
Tried to stay near littermate.
Walked around crying and sniffing.
Came over to me and laid down.
Most adventurous of liver girls. Crawled around crying and sniffing.
Made it most of the way to me, then laid down.
Most adventurous of liver boys. Most adventurous of black boys. Peed, sniffed around a bit,
cried a few times, then laid down.
Stuck close to littermate.
Did not cry.
Stood up, stretched forward and sniffed,
then tried to be near littermate.
Most adventurous of black girls.
Also most adventurous of the group today.

November 3, 2001

What the gang ate tonight: For those that don't know about BARF diets, bear with me! The pups had free access to Gabby as usual. Twice today, they got a pan of a mixture of Esbilac milk replacer, Gerber Rice cereal, a few peas, a dab of carrot, raw calf liver, a sprinkle of Fastrack and a sprinkle of Prozyme (Enzymes). The first meal had only milk replacer, cereal and fastrack. The pups certainly act differently when given a mixture with real meat in it. This is more like what they would have eaten in the wild.... The mom would regurgitate her meal for them. That would consist of raw meat, and her digestive enzymes. (I know! Gross!) For the past few days I have clicked my pen while watching the gang eat. I don't personally do clicker training, but can see the benefit of instant reward. I always tell the gang *gooood puppy* while they are eating to hopefully associate the good feeling with words of praise. If any of these pups go to clicker homes, I hope the clicking sound during feeding does the same. As always, the sounds of the home go on around the pups as they eat, sleep and play. Today I ran the coffee grinder, and I was met with a chorus of barking! Apparently I have a decaf litter!

November 4, 2001

Red-collar liver girl -- first out of the box, 8:00 AM. When put back in, she got out again within a few minutes. Many of the others followed by noon:

Liver Boys Black Boys Liver Girls Black Girls
Out of the box by noon Out of the box by noon First out of the box Yellow collar
Out of the box by noon Out of the box by noon Yellow collar White collar
Out of the box by noon
Out of the box by noon

To elaborate on what the puppies are eating. I mentioned BARF. (BARF - Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.) Please, before you attempt to switch to a Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diet, educate yourself. We recommend the following books as a good place to start. Follow their links to order them on line. Grow Your Pups with Bones by Dr Ian Billinghurst and Give Your Dog a Bone by Dr Ian Billinghurst. Here is a site on BARF FAQ's.

I also mentioned Fastrack. Fastrack Probiotic direct-fed microbial products supply live lactic acid-producing bacteria, yeast and B-vitamins to supplement your dog’s diet. The appearance and performance of your dog is dependent upon the proper balance of bacteria in the digestive tract. Birth, weaning, transporting, food or management changes, environmental conditions, heavy workout training and antibiotic therapy can upset the balance of health-promoting bacteria in the digestive tract. The unique combinations of natural lactic-acid producing bacteria, yeast, enzymes and vitamins in Fastrack probiotic products help to ensure a healthy digestive track. (you know the benefits of eating yogurt) Well, when I worm the pups, it can upset the balance in the digestive tract. Also, when new foods are introduced to the young pups it can upset the balance. I also use Fastrack when my dogs are on the road at shows, or any time I feel its a stressful situation for them.

Another thing I mentioned is Prozyme. To quote the add... Prozyme is a UNIQUE, ALL NATURAL, HIGH POTENTCY, plant-derived ENZYME SUPPLEMENT that will unlock the nutrients contained in your pet's food. PROZYME is scientifically proven to increase the absorption of essential nutrients and fatty acids, especially Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin B6, and Linoleic Acid from pet food. Testing was completed at numerous laboratories including those at Mayo Clinic.

I can't always feed a total BARF diet. So I use Prozyme to help the dogs get all they can out of whatever they eat.


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