Our puppies are usually born in a whelping box in the kitchen or in the extra bedroom. The moms start to spend a lot of time in the whelping box a week or so before the pups are born to help them settle into their new home before having their new babies. We keep the pups very close and keep a watchful eye/ear on them for the first week or so of age. Puppies cannot regulate their own body temperature until they are about two weeks old, so we try to make sure they all of them stay close to their momma. During the first week of life I usually sleep a few feet away from their whelping box and check on them multiple times during the night.
Where They Spend the Day:
During the day the babies are in our kitchen or living room so that they are exposed to all the daily sights and sounds of a household.
Where They Spend the Night:
At night the pups sometimes stay in the pen in the kitchen or move to a pen in the laundry room to have a quieter place to sleep.
What Is Happening In the Early Days:
From day one the puppies are handled and held daily. We do Early NEUROLOGICAL Simulation with our pups. Please watch this video for more info on this process: Video Link This process helps to create puppies and dogs that are better able to handle stress. By 10-14 days their eyes and ears are open and they can start to take in more of the world around them.
What is Happening At 3-5 Weeks:
At this age we are continuing to hold our puppies daily. The babies are exposed to well behaved children daily and all the noises that come with them! They get used to the sounds of the vacuum, TV, blender, garage door, noisy kids, doorbell, etc. We start early potty training at this time as well. From a young age most puppies want to be clean. They will start scooting over to the other side of the whelping box to potty and then scoot back over to their mom. At this time I put a pee pad down at one end of the whelping box and their bedding on the other. This starts to teach them to be "clean" in their sleeping area and potty in a separate area. Starting this "clean" training at a young age helps them to be easier to potty train and have less accidents later in life.
What is Happening At 6-10 Weeks:
1) We continue with the above socialization and potty training, but the pups are moved into a larger pen in the house to allow them more room to romp and play. We do our very best to always provide good footing for our puppies starting from birth through the time that they leave us. There is research out there that points to allowing puppies to be on slippery flooring/footing in the whelping box and when young can lead to structural problems. Starting around 6-7 weeks if the weather is nice we try to take the puppies outside. It's fun seeing the pups investigating in the grass.
2) Another thing we work on during this stage is manners training. If you have ever been around a young pup, you know they it seems like they like to bite. Well, I don't know that puppies really like to bite, but they don't have hands to investigate items or use to play with others. Puppies play and investigate with their mouths. I am not saying that your puppy will never play-bite or try to chew on you; we just try to start teaching them that this behavior isn't nice.
3) We introduce the puppies to a crate. At first we take a door off an extra crate and place it into their pen. They immediately start using the crate as a sleeping area. After a couple days we start to put them (together) into a crate during the time that we clean their pen. Closer to 10 weeks we start to put them into the crate by themselves for about 10-15 minutes a day. This gets them more used to the crate, and also introduces them to being without their litter-mates. This makes going to their new homes without their brothers and sisters a little easier.
4) Usually starting around 8 weeks of age we allow our future puppy parents to either be matched or, if possible, choose their puppy. To read more about our puppy-choosing methods please click here and scroll towards the bottom of the page :-)