...but someone has to do it! ;)
I thought you might be interested in how we raise a litter of pups. These are things we do with every litter. Sometimes the timing varies, and sometimes the weather prevents certain things, but overall this is our method.
The puppies are born in a whelping box in our guest bedroom. They stay there for two to three weeks, with us spending a lot of time with them or nearby. We sleep in the room with them, and there is always one of us in the house for those two weeks. Their tails are docked and dew claws removed when they are 3 days old. This is done at the vet that oversees the dam's breeding and pregnancy. It's about 45 minutes away, so that is also their first car trip. On day 5, when we are sure they have recovered from the stress of the procedure, we begin daily Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS). This is a process designed by the military to encourage each puppy in their mental and physical health, and is finished on day 16.
The pups are moved to our larger puppy area in the basement when they are 2-3 weeks old, when their eyes open. They begin in a whelping box there with their dam, who gradually leaves them on their own for longer and longer times. Between weeks 3-4 they learn how to climb out of the box, and we open up a larger area. At this point they start playing with each other instead of just sleeping and nursing all of the time. By this time they are usually walking away from their sleeping area to pee & poop, and we encourage them to pee in one area and transition that area to a litter pan.
By 4 weeks we have introduced them to the idea of lapping puppy replacement milk from a shallow dish, and once they get the hang of it, they are all for that! We transition to feeding them gruel, which quickly turns to mush (puppy milk with dry food blended in), which eventually becomes dry food soaked in water 3 times a day. The dam decreases the number of times she nurses the pups until she has stopped completely. We give them toys to play with, and around this time we start opening the door of their puppy room to let them explore outside in the puppy yard, weather dependent of course.
As time goes by they are running in and out of their room. We hang out with them in their room and in the yard. In the room we replace the whelping box with plastic dog crates without the doors, and they love to sleep inside the crates. Outside we have tunnels for them to go through, climbing toys, hanging toys, rolling toys, and squeaky toys. Yet they always teach themselves to dig holes. In those last 4 weeks they will be introduced to dead quail and live quail, baby pools with water, tracking short distances, and exploring in the big yard, including the woods.
At 6-7 weeks old we take them to our local vet for their first check up with puppy shots and microchip placements. We de-worm them every two weeks with pyrantel. We clip their nails weekly.
It goes without saying that they are handled constantly. We love to pick each one up for its turn to be snuggled. Our daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren all live nearby and visit as often as possible. In that last week we begin attention training to prepare them for obedience training. We put the doors on the crates and close them at night, first with some siblings and then less and less each night until they are sleeping on their own. They are also used to running outside to pee and poop 75% of the time.
Add in all of the cleaning, feeding, laundry, and worrying we do, and you can see why we heave a big sigh of relief once they are all safely in their new homes. Plus, we LOVE making people happy! :)
Michelle & Jim