The Litter's Early Life, Week 5
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.
November 6, 2001
Week Five (Days 29-35)
DEVELOPMENT OF THE PUPPIES
The pups spend all their time eating, playing and sleeping. (Oh, and that other thing that creates loads and loads of laundry!) The pups have moved from two meals to three a day. Of course, they still get most of their nutrition from Gabby. Some people push weaning early so they can get the mom back in shape for the showring. Puppies separated from their littermates too early often don't develop appropriate "social skills," such as learning how to send and receive signals, what an "inhibited bite" means, how far to go in play wrestling and so forth. Play is important to help puppies increase their physical coordination, social skills and learning limits. Interacting with their mother and littermates helps them learn "how to be a dog" and is also a way to explore ranking ("who's in charge"). The two green collar boys (one black, one liver) seem to be duking it out right now over who will be top dog. They posture over each other. Gabby will go knock them over and start cleaning them. That lets them know who is truly boss!
I will let Gabby decide when she has had enough of them. Since the pups can get out of the whelping box now, I have a separate X-pen set up that only Gabby can get into. This gives her a place to go if she does want a break from them. The pups have sharp little teeth just erupting. They are starting to play with the toys in the box. Chewing on each other and the softer rubber toys. They will learn from each other how sharp those teeth are and not to bite too hard.
Someone mentioned how clean the toys look. :-) I have three sets of toys, almost identical. (I buy in bulk!) the rubber toys go in the dishwasher with the food pans, the cloth and fuzzy ones go in the laundry with the whelping box pad. That way I have a set in the box, a set in the wash and a set drying.
The pups weigh between 3 3/4 lbs and 5 1/4 lbs. It is interesting that the smallest pup is a liver girl, and the largest pup is a liver girl! The majority of pups are just about 4 1/2 lbs. We clipped nails again today.
I don't know many adult curlies who tolerate nail cutting without a fuss. Already the pups find effective ways to squirm and make it difficult! While clipping nails, the liver yellow female climbed out of the box, went potty, then climbed back in the box. What a smart girl to not want to mess in her bedding..... of course, she went potty in Gabby's food dish.... but it's a start!
Behind the scenes, one of the big things happening is recordkeeping. For the litter to be AKC registered, records must be kept:
You may or may not know, Gabby was leased by me for this litter. A lease agreement was filled out and filed with the American Kennel Club prior to breeding.
I fill out the litter registration application with the Date of birth, number of puppies. Sire’s name and registration number, Dam’s name and registration number. Signatures of owner of sire and dam. (or lessee of dam) Then I send in the appropriate fees.
This does not register each pup individually. I will be sent individual registration forms for each pup that must be filled out. The AKC imposes a late fee ($65) if the litter application is not made out in the timeline they give. The litter registration fee is $25.00 plus $2 per puppy. The individual dog registration will be $15.00. Again, a later fee is charged if the dog is not registered within the year, and it climbs if the dog is registered after 24 months.
These are not the only kinds of records that need to be kept. I also keep records of the birth. Weights of the puppies. Color Sex, when the dewclaws are removed. Dates they are wormed, and worming medication used. When shots are administered. When they have veterinary care and check ups. What food they are eating. When Gabby weaned them. Then there are the breeder notes. How the pups look and act.
November 7, 2001
Here is each pup at just a day shy of one month old:
A dog has a formal or Registered name, and a call name. The Registered name is longer, usually starts with the breeders Kennel name, may follow a theme, or may remind the owner of some event that happened when they got the pup, or when the pup was born. The Call name, or nickname may or may not have something to do with the registered name. Now is a good time to start thinking of a name for your pup! Here is what the AKC has to say about dog names....
All dogs whelped at SoftMaple will carry the SoftMaple prefix in the name. Some litters have themes, some don't. Some people name a dog based on parts of each parent's name. Sometimes an event that happened around the time the pup was born will give the owners an idea of the name. You may want to think of a patriotic name for your pup. The registered name does not have to have anything to do with the call name of the dog.
Jet's registered name is CH SoftMaple's O'Dark Thirty SH WCX CD CGC. Gabby's registered name is CH Charwin Evensong WCX JH CGC.
You may want to name your pup SoftMaple's Star Spangled, and call him Banner, or SoftMaple's Liberty Bell and call her Bell. Now is a good time to start thinking of names. Some other ideas:
You don't have to follow a Patriotic theme at all. Just start thinking about a Call name and a more formal Registered name for your pup. Sometimes people change the call name when the pup gets home if they decide she doesn't really look or act like the *Angel* they had picked out! Just keep thinking of the 25 spaces you have. SoftMaple has 9 letters. Add a space after that, and it takes you to 10. So you have 15 spaces to play with.
November 8, 2001
November 9, 2001
Here's the age old question: Is temperament the result of heredity or of environment?
You have already done your homework into the backgrounds of the sire and dam; you've checked on temperament, trainability and stability. The job does not stop here. Do you want to take a chance that the greatest factor is not environment?
In a litter, you are lucky to get one or two good show dogs. You may get a couple of good field prospects, maybe even a future top obedience or agility dog. Every pup should have a super temperament because 90 percent of the litter will end up in pet homes. Their owners will not care about how many titles the parents won, at what age they got their first major, or how many tries it took them to get their SH or CDX titles. These people care that their dogs will be wonderful additions to their family.
(Keep in mind, the pups are only 5 weeks here.)
When I plan a breeding, I take time off from my full time job to start another full-time job-- the one of raising a litter. It does not matter how wonderful and independent a mom your brood bitch is, you still have a full-time commitment with each litter.
I start working with the pups when they are 3 days old. I take each one and put it through a series of five exercises known as the Bio-Sensor method. (see the May 1995 AKC Gazette for an article on this) In brief, this is a series of exercises that stimulates pups in a way they would not otherwise experience at this early age.
Once the pups have their eyes open and start to venture out of the whelping box, the fun begins! Over the years, I have developed a "puppy playground." This is designed to introduce the pups to sound, texture, movement, vibration and music. It includes "swings" made from carpeted milk crates that hangs from the ceiling. The pups quickly find these and they are not bothered by the swinging movement when they are in them. Often I will find the swing jam-packed with pups sleeping and gently rocking! I also have low, padded and carpeted seesaws. The pups first reaction to these is usually to be startled when they walk up the low ramp and it moves under their weight. however, the puppy urge for exploration gets the best of them and soon you see 6-week old pups trying out their "sea legs" and balancing on the middle of the sea saw like expert agility dogs.
is important to help puppies increase their physical coordination, social
skills and learning limits.
The playground also includes a variety of tunnels made of tall kitchen trash containers with the bottoms cut out. The pups race through these, roll them around, and then all pile in for a nap. There are also ramps of various materials and textures, milk jugs, hanging fleece toys and short steps made by stacking large wooden blocks. One object that the pups love is a fleece octopus with four squeaky arms. It hangs about five inches from the ground, from a rope that has a long line of sleigh bells attached to the top. The noise it makes! There are also low mirrors on the walls and an assortment of balls, toys and chews in the puppy room.
At about 6 weeks, the pups are introduced to water, under supervision. I take an extra large Vari-Kennel bottom, line it with rubber bath mats, and fill it with three inches of warm water. I place this in the puppy room, with a couple of rubber balls floating in it. The boldest pups are soon in there! There is no pushing or forcing; I just let them go at their own pace.
the pups get a quick snack from Gabby. Notice the different textures
in the puppy room.
Each puppy also gets individual attention every day during which they experience a variety of activities. They may drag around a short leash, be introduced to wings and birds, go for a ride in the car, or have their toenails trimmed.
The playroom setup enables me to sit and watch the puppies for hours to see which are the most adventuresome which have the quickest recovery time, and which are more hesitant. This helps me decide on the homes that will be best for each one.
White collar black girl becomes Pink collar black girl.
Pups trying out the swing.
A pup getting used to the rocking motion of the swing
The general look of the puppy room is a cluttered mess. :-)
November 10, 2001
The pups were wormed again. Also, more pictures from the playroom.
Puppies trying out the ramps. Right now there are two low ramps leading into the whelping box. Inside the whelping box is half a vari kennel that the pups can use as a den.
Some of the pups catch a nap in the swing. Red girl looked so funny. She ended up sleeping with her head hanging out! Some of the pups still aren't sure of the movement. They aren't too graceful getting out of the swing yet. Landing on top of a sibling seems to be the best way to get out!
November 11, 2001
Half the litter was resting in the Shark Cage, and the other 5 were in the puppy playroom after eating. Yellow collar liver girl was pitching a fit, while the 4 she was housed with settled down for a nap after eating. Mark (the husband) decided since she was awake (and I was cleaning up) he would dangle a duck wing over the cage and see if Yellow was interested. Boy was she!
He threw another wing in the puppy room with the 5 in there. I would have gotten some pictures, but Red girl and Pink (formerly white girl) took off with it into the swing. We will do introduction to birds and wings pretty soon. Mark was just seeing if anyone was willing to give up a nap for a wing.
About puppies and retrieving
Puppies will carry nearly anything they can get hold of, including your good shoes, gloves, the children's toys, and your newly-planted rosebushes. Severe scolding now, or vigorously discouraging the retrieving instinct, will quite likely result in a dog hesitant to retrieve for you later in obedience training or field work. A much better solution is to call the puppy to you (go to him when necessary), praise him gently for delivering and releasing the forbidden object, and immediately give him one of his own toys to carry and play with. If you chase him while screaming and scolding, he will only run away with the object ... and next time, may just quietly take it away to be more thoroughly "investigated".
One of the most characteristic features of the Retriever is the instinct to retrieve, and the commitment to carrying things around. Even if tennis balls and toys are the only "birds" your pup ever retrieves, but especially if you plan to do any sort of hunting, field work, or obedience work, proper development and encouragement of the retrieving instinct in your puppy will be a firm foundation for not just retrieving skills, but also the willingness to work with and for a person. Use a small, soft object that's easy for the puppy to carry such as a rubber ball, a knotted sock, a pigeon wing, or a puppy-sized bumper. Show it to the puppy and move it in a wiggling motion that will entice her by awakening her chase instinct. Don't move it too quickly as puppies often don't follow movements that are too fast or abrupt, and it is important that she maintain eye contact with or "mark" the object. While she is watching the movement of the object, or attempting to take a hold of it, encourage her with soft but excited words such as "Where's the bird? Good puppy!" and toss the object a foot or two away. Use words of encouragement such as "Fetch it up! Good puppy!" as you call her back to you with the object, hold her gently while you praise her again both verbally and physically, and don't take the object away too soon. Many puppies are reluctant to give up their "catch", and run away from you with it instead of bringing it back. Resist the impulse to run after the puppy, and run away from her instead, clapping your hands, and calling her by name; this should once again initiate her "chase" instinct. Take the object from the puppy very gently (praising all the time), and let her retrieve again immediately. When the game is over (and two or three retrieves is plenty), take the object from her, hold the puppy there for few more seconds of praise, and then release her.
If you are thinking of doing any type of retriever work, or hunting with your pup and you don't have a clue where to start, I suggest finding a local retriever club in your area. You can also purchase a number of good books and videos to help guide you.
November 11th. Day 34
pups play hard in spurts throughout the day and night. They will fall
asleep just as fast as they wake up!
Here they fell asleep before they even got in!
Tunnels and ramps are favorites
Well, I keep showing cute puppy pictures. I don't want anyone to get the idea this is a breeze, or that there is money to be made! . There are lots of hidden costs, and also the more obvious ones. A lot is said about counting the cost of raising and showing the parents into the cost of the litter. I won't even go into that part of it. I see showing, training and running trials with my dogs as a very expensive hobby. A show weekend easily runs over $200 just on entry fees, hotel, gas. Thats a flea bag motel that takes dogs, vendor hot-dogs, parking, entry fees, and no frills! Although I won't count any of the costs of showing, training or putting titles on either parent... think about this.... how many of you would have contacted me for a pup if I had run an add in the newspaper saying I was breeding Rex to Fluffy?
Are we having fun yet? Think you want to try this at home?
Breeding dogs can be a wonderful event. You've got a great looking animal which is very special to you, and you have found a great looking mate who is also wonderful, and between the two of them, you reckon that you can produce some wonderful pups.
Unfortunately, the reality of life is that while beautiful puppies can result, in a large number of cases events happen during the breeding of a dog that far outweigh the much-wanted puppies.
A lot of people think that breeders make a lot of money And sometimes that thought alone is enough for some people to put their beloved friend at risk. I'm yet to make money out of breeding.
When you breed your dog, you put her at risk. Yes, she can die giving birth, and you don’t have time to greive since you will be raising orphaned pups.
Regardless of how much experience you have, you can still have disasters.
Death of just one pup, even in a large litter, can be heartbreaking. remember liver orange collar girl?
It's almost impossible to get a fading puppy to survive, and you can lose a whole litter to fading puppy syndrome.
These are some of the costs that you will have to budget for:
Here are some of the hidden and not so hidden costs that you may not have thought about:
Let's look at the costs:
Okay, now go back through the list and work out, realistically, how many pups you need to breed from a litter so that you just break even. 12 - maybe. And of course, for those of us that have bred litter with that many pups know exactly how much extra work that is, especially if the bitch is not a great mum, and only has 8 working tits.
If you make any profit at all, set aside some of it. You want to guarantee your litter don’t you? What is someone comes to you 2 years down the road, who purchased a show quality bitch and her hips don’t pass OFA? You will want to refund their money, and give them a pup from your next litter.
It has been well documented that about 75% of 1st time breeders do not attempt to breed again because of the cost, work and time involved.
November 12, 2001
Gabby gets to finish up what the pups don't eat. Sometimes she lets them eat with her, other times she lets them know the ranking order, and pushes them away.
The puppy mush is made of mostly kibble soaked in water and puppy milk replacer. It also contains ground up liver, a small amount of ground up carrot and green beans. I add a Vitamin C supplement to the pups food, and to Gabby's food. The dry kibble I use is Premium Edge. I mix the Large Breed Lamb & Rice Puppy Formula with the Chicken & Rice Puppy Formula. Im not going to tell you its the best food.
I'm not going to tell you what you can and can not feed your puppy. Everyone has to look at what good grade of balanced dog food they can get a good fresh source of. You may not have this brand in a convenient location. You may have a brand that works great with your dog that I can't get where I live.
If you buy the cheapest food at the grocery store, change foods with every sale coupon that comes out..... your pets coat, nails, skin, muscle tone and general activity level will reflect this. You have to feed a good grade of balanced dog food. Look at the first few ingredients. You should have some kind of meat for the first ingredient. You know what happens when you eat corn on the cob... well, dogs don't digest corn any better than we do! Corn is used as a filler, you don't want to see that as the first ingredient.
You can look at the first four ingredients:
Compared to to these higher quality foods:
Which would you rather eat?
This is the set up so Gabby can get away from the pups if she wishes. Its an X-pen turned upside-down so the door opening is higher than it normally would be. She can easily jump in, but the pups can not climb in. (yet!)
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List and Site Owner: Melissa Alexander, mca @ clickersolutions.com