Some thoughts on breeding a litter…
I was surprised to see so many people asked for a DVD on raising a litter - I guarantee I won't do that one as clearly one litter doesn't make one an expert and I'm sure there are TONS of people who know how to do it better as I do!!! So just as I wouldn't issue a DVD on Running Contacts if I only trained one dog to do it or a DVD on motivation and speed if I only had one fast dog... - I certainly won't be trying to be smart after breeding one litter - and even that one unintentionally!!! 🙂
So here are just some of the things I've learned on the way. I'm sure I would learn more with every next litter, but even though I loved my puppies very much, I'm just not a breeder material 🙂 It's just too many worries, too big responsibility and too hard to let them go right when they become most fun.
But anyway, here are the things I learned from this one-time experience...
Things I found most important:
- Big enough whelping box that you can sit in it for first 2 weeks.
- Big enough x-pen that they have plenty of space to play and explore after that - I borrowed double-x-pen - single one is never big enough. A separate puppy room doesn't work either, you want them in the room where you spend most time in.
- A yard to play in.
- Encouraging play, playing with them a lot and providing different toys.
- Feeding one meal per day from hand (when they start eating normal food) - I think it made wonders for my puppies food motivation and readiness to work. I didn't actually clicker train them no (other as clicking them after a recall, before putting food bowls down) - I was just delivering food from hand, preferably for action they might had happened to just do.
- Lots of time - cancel everything you can and take time off work if at all possible.
- Playing them random sound effects - I started with those meant for desensitization for dogs, but it's just lots of hours of the same thing, so I then just let random YouTube play lists play instead then. We covered kids laughing, people coughing, yelling, alarms, trucks starting, gun shots, doors shutting, thunderstorms, barking dogs etc. Lots of random stuff.
- Balance board on tiles in their x-pen - I can pretty much guarantee my puppies won't be afraid of see-saw 🙂
Things I would do differently:
- Doing more individual work, taking out just one puppy at the time to play with to make transition to new owners easier. I was surprised by how much Toko was missing Blue when he left so I can imagine it was even more of a shock for others who not only missed their brothers, but also their home and us.
- Taking them to even more different places - it's just very hard with a big litter as you need many helpers... I wish we had some trials at that time to take them with me as trials are really perfect for socializstion, but it was too early for outdoors trials.
- Using another mat for x-pen surface that wouldn't have tiny places in between like my puzzle matting - where remains after cleaning the pee can go to...
And a link to all other videos, pictures and adventures of my puppies: https://www.lolabuland.com/tag/puppies/
Thank you Silvia for this very great article with great tipps on raising puppies! Especially, feeding one meal from hand sounds good to me. You sure did a great Job with your puppies and I´m sure that you know much more about raising puppies then many breeders do!!!
Yes, I’m really happy with their food motivation and working ethics -- I had never had a puppy that would be so easy to work with as these 7 pups!
Thanks! Another insight I had later on is that I actually think they start learning in uterus already 🙂 I did lots of clicker training with To when she was pregnant, to keep her happy and in good shape. I think puppies can hear clicks and feel “happy hormones” and excitement from their mother and can learn already then that working is fun. The focus and eagerness to work of these 7 puppies is really amazing.