Whelping in More Detail

Week 5-8, Whelping in More Detail

Week 5 (28-34 days of age)

Developmental milestones

• Socialization

Puppy care

• Check ID collars frequently. 
• Nail trims weekly.  Try to catch the pups sleeping or after a meal.  Human nail trimmers work well
• Lots of people time cuddling and petting. 
• Pups will start climbing over the lower pen gates. 
• Kibble + goat milk (or whole cow milk) 3 – 4 xdaily.  Feed until full, but not stuffed. 
• If questionable hydration, provide supplemental goat milk or water in bottle.  Should be drinking well from a bowl.
• Puppy diarrhea at this age is often due to overfeeding.  If diarrhea, feed less.  Coccidia parasite can be a problem at this age, but may not actually require treatment (treatment just knocks down numbers of parasites, doesn't clear the parasite – the puppy's own immune system needs to do that). 
• Weigh pups weekly.  Expect gains of 1 to 1.5 lbs/week.
• Move up to larger water bowl.  I block/stabilize with two bricks.  Otherwise, pups just tend to walk through. 
• May need to encourage dam to nurse pups, try to stagger puppy feedings and nursing.  Smaller pups eat first when dam is most full.

 

Puppy Teaching/Training

• Invasive/rude petting – handle ears, feet, tail, cradle on back, hug, etc.  ALWAYS connect handling with verbal jolly routine to make good associations.
• Introduce to lots of new experiences inside and outside of house. 
• Desensitize to noises – radio playing during day, TV, clapping, vacuum, pop bubble wrap while eating, talk in loud excited voice (pair new/possibly scary experiences with jolly routine).   Make sudden loud noises when pups are eating, clapping, loud knocking on walls, vacuum.  If a thunderstorm, open up the windows for the pups to hear, and have a puppy play/cuddle session. 
• "Harness training" – desensitize to wearing a harness while playing.  Don't leave unsupervised in a harness.   Practice SHORT sessions – no more than 3-5 minutes each session. Pair play or food reward with wearing easy walk, and gentle leader and vest.
• Rotate toys in puppy pen. 

Dam care

• Watch that she is spending enough time with the pups and not ditching.

Daily Routine

AM

• Change pen bedding and litter box
• Feed pups kibble.  Put pan on a sheet (easy cleaning) or feed outside
• Make sure pups are getting enough liquids.
• Time out of pen

Midday

• Feed dam extra meal
• Feed pups (kibble or canned)
• Time out of pen
• Have handling session
• Have harness wearing session
• Have follow you session

PM

• Feed pups
• Change pen bedding and litter box
• Feed Dam
• Time out of pen
• Handling session
• Harness-wearing session
• Follow-you session

Week 6 (35-41 days of age)

Developmental milestones

• Socialization
• Follow instinct
• Weaning
• Visitations

Puppy care

• Check ID collars frequently.  Upgrade to snap collars if not already using.
• Nail trims weekly.  Try to catch the pups sleeping or after a meal.  Human nail trimmers or cat claw trimmers work well
• Gradually decrease amount of water in soaked kibble once drinking well from the bowl.  Feed 3x daily.  Feed until full, but not stuffed.  Use weights to help decide on amount.  Ideally measure for each pup.  I add fish oil (DHA for neuro development) and vitamin C.
• If questionable hydration, provide supplemental goat milk or water in bottle.  Should be drinking well from a bowl.
• Puppy diarrhea at this age (and later) is often due to overfeeding.  If diarrhea, feed less.  Coccidia parasite can be a problem at this age, but may not actually require treatment (treatment just knocks down numbers of parasites, doesn't clear the parasite – the puppy's own immune system needs to do that).  Probiotics and canned pumpkin may be helpful additions.
• Weigh pups weekly.  Expect gains of 1 to 1.5 lbs/week.
• Move up to larger water bowl.  I block/stabilize with two bricks.  Otherwise, pups just tend to walk through.
• May need to encourage dam to nurse pups, try to stagger puppy kibble feedings and nursing.  Dam may be more tolerant if just some pups at a time.
• Can create steps straddling both sides of the pen for the dam to get in and out of pen, or just send her in as needed.
• Encourage pups to toilet outside as much as possible.  Can easily train to run outside together from pen to door.

 

Puppy Socialization/Training

• Lots of people time cuddling and petting.
• Continue Week 5 activities, encourage climbing, exploration, and problem solving
• Bite inhibition training
• More outdoor time, weather permitting, pups are very hardy and can handle cold weather.  Be more cautious of overheating since can pant efficiently.
• Take pups out in the rain or thunderstorms, be fun and silly.  Open windows during a loud thunderstorm
• Play sound effect tapes, TV, radio, gradually increasing volume.  Move source of noise to different parts of the room.
• Expose to noise from vacuum cleaner, hot air popper, hair dryer, etc.
• Do lots of clapping.
• Laugh, use a loud excited voice, and make lots of other sounds.
• Start doing some brief individual one-on-one interactions with people in a room by themselves, record reactions – how confident, how social
• Encourage pups to follow you, especially when outside.  Lead them slightly past their comfort zone, noting which pups are most confident.
• Puppy recalls – "puppy, puppy, puppy" and encourage the pups to come running to you.
• Visitors – encourage people of all ages and ethnicities to visit.  For young children, enforce rules of no running (trip and fall on pups) and no carrying pups.  Children must only hold pups in their laps if sitting on the ground.  Very young children may be overwhelmed and often prefer to sit on little stools or chairs, pulling up their feet if needed.
• Leash training – practice LOTS and LOTS of yield to pressure

Dam care

• Encourage dam to continue to spend time with the pups, but let her correct them as appropriate.
• Once dam has indicated that she ready to start weaning (starts correcting pups for nursing), gradually start decreasing the amount of her food to 4 c per day.

Daily Routine

AM

• Change pen bedding and litter box
• Feed pups kibble.  Put pan on a sheet (easy cleaning) or feed outside
• Make sure pups are getting enough liquids.
• Time out of pen

Midday

• Feed dam extra meal
• Feed pups (kibble or canned)
• Time out of pen

PM

• Feed pups (kibble or canned)
• +/- change litter box
• Time out of pen
• Before bedtime feeding if feeding dam 4x daily

 

Week 7 (42-55 days of age)

Developmental milestones

• Socialization
• Weaning
• Visitations
• Becoming more independent

Puppy care

• Check ID collars frequently.  Upgrade to snap collars if not already using.
• Nail trims weekly.  Cat claw trimmers work well.
• Start feeding hard kibble with a bit of water added immediately before feeding to decrease risk of choking.  Use weights to help decide on amount, but once mostly weaned, often eating 1 cup per day or more.   Feed measured amount for each pup.
• Supplement with fish oil (for DHA for neurodevelopment) and vitamin C.
• May add small amounts of vegetables and fruit, or high quality protein (i.e., egg, chicken, fish).
• Feed 3-4 x daily
• Weigh pups weekly.  Expect gains of 1.5 lbs/week.
• Toilet outside as much as possible.  Usually not using litterbox much at night.

Puppy Socialization & Training

• Continue Week 6 activities
• Identify less confident pups and spend extra time giving them positive new experiences
• Work extra hard with restraint and bite inhibition with more assertive pups
• Puppy pool with more water
• Puppy pool with empty water bottles
• Seek out new experiences for the pups
• Challenge visitors to wear unusual clothes (sporting equipment), costumes, bring animated toys or things that make noise.
• Have a puppy party with many guests.
• Pups can go for off-site outings in groups of at least 2-3 pups.  Don't stress a young pup with being solo in a new environment.
• Take for brief car rides in small groups in solid plastic crates (less visual stimulation).
• Crate training in pairs
• Acclimate to soft-sided traveling bag
• Test natural retrieve and then start playing fetch with the pups individually.  Pups at this age are very short sighted, mostly just roll toy.

Dam care

• Encourage dam to continue to spend time with the pups, but let her correct them as appropriate.
• Once dam has indicated that she ready to start weaning (starts correcting pups for nursing), gradually start decreasing the amount of her food to 4 c per day.
• Once dam down to 4 c of food, transition back to regular diet.
• To dry up, decrease amount fed to 2-3 c per day and keep completely separate from pups.   Let pups nurse only when glands are very full (1-2 times daily).  Once can go 24-36 hours between nursing, send to another home if possible to get away from the pups, and depending on body condition, feed 2-4 cups.  If necessary, can still bring back for 1-2 more nursings to relieve pressure.  Once completely dried up, can be back with the pups, and such interactions are very beneficial for the pups.

Week 8 (56-62 days of age)

Developmental milestones

• Socialization – pups are typically very active and exploratory
• Weaning
• Visitations
• Preparation for leaving for new homes

Puppy care

• Check ID collars frequently.  Upgrade to snap collars if not already using.
• Nail trims weekly.  Cat claw trimmers work well.
• Assuming pups have been weaned, feed 1 ½ to 2 c kibble divided into 3-4 feedings.  I recommending continuing to add a bit of water added immediately before feeding to decrease risk of choking.  Use weights to help decide on amount, should be gaining 1.5 to 2 lbs a week.
• Toilet outside as much as possible.

Puppy Teaching/Training

• Continue Week 7 activities
• Crate training individually
• Acclimate to soft-sided traveling bag (feed in the bag) if flying to new home
• Leash walks on harness in safe neighborhood.  If hesitant, carry pup a few house away and walk home
• Take pups to new environments.  Pups at this age typically still have a good immune response from the dam, so relative safe to be out and about.  Maternal antibodies are usually waning starting around 12 weeks, with 12-16 weeks often being the most vulnerable period.  May or may not develop much of an immune response to the 12 week vaccination.
• A secure pet buggy is good way to move group of pups, but best if they can get out and get the whole experience.

Transition to new home

• Do not send to a new home until 8 weeks of age, many Golden pups do better if not before 9 weeks of age.  Exception would be if a program is taking a group of pups (see below)
• Legally not allowed to fly pups <8 weeks of age
• If program pups, consider letting groups of pups stay together during the transition.  Less stress if allowed to be together when not with people  – crate in pairs during day and allow to sleep together in a pen at night for first 1-2 weeks.  Also decreases the stress on the puppy starters since by 10 weeks of age, often sleeping through the night and more accepting of being crated.

Dam care

• Encourage dam to continue to spend time with the pups if she is still available, but let her correct them as appropriate.