The Fourth Week
This bunch born 11/05/04 are three weeks old in this picture and have managed to track mom down outside of the crate. They're walking is still a little wobbly at this point but they can get around pretty quickly. Note the closed door. The big dogs play all around the crate of the puppies while they're in it but they're not allowed free access to the puppies for interactive play quite yet. (Molly decided this and it varies some with each mother and each litter but the puppies and dogs are never allowed together if I'm not watching.)
The puppies are loads of fun at this time but more importantly for you is
that this is their most important potty training week. Around the four week
mark mom is getting the puppies ready to start weaning (which will take
weeks) and stops cleaning up all their messes. They are eating semi-solid
food daily and are peeing and pooping with no help
from her. They also still sleep quite a bit which means that I can watch
them all the time when they are awake. They are moved to the "puppy garden"
at this time. The puppy garden is a pen in our playroom made out of garden lattice. It's 4
feet square and contains a litter pan, a crate, a creep feeder, food & water
|Because the pups are too little to climb
into a real litter box and we want to make it easy for them, their first
litter box is a pretty flat pan from the bottom of another crate.
(Note: The litter shown here is not what we use any more. This was gray, the new litter is pine colored.)
The crate on the right with the hole showing at the front is the creep feeder. Since the mom is in and out so often we put food for the puppies in here where they can get it but she can't.
When the puppies fall asleep I put them all in the crate and close the
door. By closing the door I know they'll cry to come out when they wake up
and I'll hear them. As soon as I do I let them out of the crate, but not out
of the pen. I'll ask who has to pee and I'll set each one in the litter pan.
Any pup that pees or poops in the litter pan gets an immediate treat of a
lick of baby food chicken from my finger. This is the first treat they've
had and it makes them crazy. They want more but they only get more by using
the litter pan which they do almost immediately. It is extremely rare for me
to have to clean up messes in the puppy garden. I think three things combine
to make this true: 1) Their mom has just stopped cleaning them up so they
seem open to a new directive. 2) Their natural inclination not to soil the
"den" kicks in and this is about as large a space as that could be effective
in and 3) Because they sleep so much I'm able to watch them all the time
they're awake. It seems that almost immediately they are trained to use the
litter box when they are in the pen. The next trick is to get them to use a litter box
when they have freedom in a much larger area.
|This pose can only mean one thing!
At 4 weeks and 5 days these two pups have it mastered.
By this age the puppies want to come out into the room and play with me and the other dogs and we'll let them do that. Once they're little minds have connected the treat with the use of the litter box they will be trying to use it more and we can give them the freedom to graduate to using the box in a more open space. The door on the puppy garden is left open so they can get back in to use the litter box and they are introduced to another litter box outside the pen, at the other end of the room.
The fifth week is also when I introduce the puppies to the noisy clippers. I start trimming faces and feet at this age. After this, you may see pictures of a puppy with one trimmed foot or a half trimmed face. The goal in this early grooming is not the grooming itself (which is really not needed yet) but it is to get them used to the clippers which seems to happen best at this age.
This is also the week when I introduce the puppies to some of our favorite puppy enrichment paraphernalia and some scary toys that will make the puppies very brave. (I'm searching for the video clips of these.)
By the time the puppies are five weeks old they are doing all the things we've already covered and being awake more to do them longer. I'm busy all the time. When they're awake I'm either playing with them, watching that they use the litter box or training them. Between five and six weeks is when they'll learn to answer to their names. Around six weeks is when they start clicker training and learn to sit. When they're asleep I'll be mopping floors, changing bedding, doing laundry and trying to keep the other dogs bathed, brushed and contented. (Everyone has to have lap time every day!) During this phase I rarely answer the phone before hearing who's on it. We do not have time for telemarketers!
At six weeks they get their first vaccination.
We also take field trips at this age (unless it's cold out). Since they are not fully vaccinated we pick places to go where there aren't usually dogs but there are people to fuss over the puppies. Our favorite place is Lowe's. I drop a throw rug into the shopping cart and load my pups in then we walk around looking at all the things we'd buy if we had more time to use or install them. We rarely get very far before someone stops to fuss over the pups. Before too long the pups are tired and we head back home.
Twice a day, most days, the puppies will take naps individually in their own crates or travel bags. (In the case when two puppies are going to the same home, they will nap together.)
This gets them used to sleeping in a crate alone although at my house they are never entirely alone - and they know that. It also gets them used to the container - either crate or travel bag - they'll be going home in. Most of our puppies will fly to get to their new home, either alone or with the new puppy parent who flies in to pick them up. We like to make sure they are cozy and comfortable in whatever they'll be traveling in and sleeping in when they get to your house.
Words don't do them justice at this point but fortunately we have video clips!
At eight to ten weeks of age the puppies will leave me and go home with you. I will send them with everything they need to make a smooth transition. They will leave here happy, healthy, playful and confident. All you'll have to add is lots of love and attention to make a great companion. If you have any problems or questions please do not hesitate to call me. I will help you in any way I can.
If your circumstances ever change and you cannot keep the puppy - for any reason - I urge you to return it to me. I will make sure that every puppy born here has a good home with a loving family or I will keep it here with me.
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