Pepper’s Puppies- week 4

February 15th

The puppies are 3 weeks old today (so, starting their 4th week of life). There are some milestones that will be reached during this timeframe.

  1. Generally, 3 weeks marks the age when puppies can thermoregulate themselves. Up until this point, they do have the ability to adjust their own body temperature. If the air temperature, or surfaces they are in contact with, are too warm or too cold, they could only moderate that by trying to move to a location with more moderate temperature (which may include closer to or away from a toasty mom or siblings). This is important because being able to self-regulate decreases the likelihood of a few different types of contagious puppy illnesses.
  2. This is typically the age at which puppies start trying to aim for a potty area. And just on time, several puppies pooped on their designated turf last night!
  3. Incoming teeth! They are just little nubs right now, but can definitely feel them starting to emerge. This means that the time to start eating real food is approaching (we’ll aim for 4 weeks of age for their mush intro, unless Pepper asks for this to happen sooner). There are behavioral changes that happen in correlation to teething, including an interest in grabbing things in their mouth- mostly just littermate body parts right now, but soon will include soft toys.
  4. Improved social interactions. During this week, we usually see a big increase in how much time the puppies spend playing with each other, including wrestling, mouth play, biting at each other. The play tends to include a wide range of vocalizations and the puppies figure out what is appropriate and when. Tail wagging during these interactions begins.

For their continued social development, the puppies are removed from their whelping box several times each day, and encouraged to explore other areas of the house. In better weather, we’d start to take them outside for short bits at this age but it’s too cold at the moment for that. Here’s a video clip of the puppies with a temporary play area set up just outside the whelping box. They have a few familiar toys and a few new ones, including some balls that make noise when they move. The puppies aren’t that interested in the toys yet, but just bumping into them to cause motion and noise is a good desensitization opportunity.

While the puppies played, uncle Chester looked on. While he seems very interested in the puppies, what he really wanted was to steal their newest ball toy!

Although ENS and ESI have concluded, the puppies do continue to get individual daily puppy handling. They are held one at a time for snuggling and their body, ears, muzzle, feet, tail and belly all receive gentle massaging.

Growth: At this point, around one pound of gain per week is average, but some puppies tend to grow more or less than this. During the last week, Phillis didn’t grow quite as fast as the others. Haggis is still the biggest but his growth is in proportion to the other puppies, remember that he did start out bigger to begin with. Little Mouse, who was smallest at birth, actually grew the most and is now in 2nd place sizewise. They all look healthy and frisky with no concerns.

What goes in mom, comes out of the puppies- in other words, what momma Pepper eats is directly reflected in the poop quality of the puppies. Pepper is fed a raw food diet, which includes a variety of muscle meats, ground bone, organ, eggs, and some select supplements like fish oil, in specific proportions. She currently eats about 6 pounds of food a day! We have been feeding this type of diet to our dogs for the last 4 years or so, and have found that the puppies are MUCH cleaner because the high quality, no-filler diet that mom is eating results in nice solid stools for the puppies. This, combined with a mom who is super diligent about keeping things clean, is super helpful to the laundry situation, and allows me to do one load of puppy laundry per day vs up to 3 or 4 that was normal when our momma dogs were fed a commercial kibble diet.

February 16th

Nail trim #6. Also new photos posted on facebook:, click HERE

February 17th

One of our morning rituals is that the puppies come out to the living room while I clean their whelping box area, replace bedding, and figure out what will be added as new blankets/toys for the day. I do some housework while the puppies hang out, and that is usually followed with some snuggling while I answer emails or otherwise compute. Today, Haggis and Bonnie were very busy during their morning out time and went exploring. Haggis wandered off to snuggle with uncle Chester’s big stuffed cat toy. Bonnie found a coat that Pepper wore yesterday and definitely recognized her momma’s smell- she spent a bit of time trying to find a nipple and then had a nap on the coat. The puppies also got a visit from Marvin the Cat.

February 19th

The puppies had a couple of first today- one of them picked up a fuzzy toy for the first time and carried it around (sorry, I was not fast enough to get video). They also had their first play fight! Something else that is developing are body language skills- the puppies are not super coordinate but are starting to paw at each other and play bow to instigate play. It’s really cute!

Around this age is when individual personalities start to emerge. The key word in this phrase is START. As you are watching the videos over the next couple of weeks, try remaining objective. Know that a few seconds of video is not generally representative of an entire day and often, when we are getting video, it’s because something particularly interesting or new is happening. It will take several more weeks, and a lot of exposures to new experiences, before personalities become set enough to be evaluated.

All kinds of neat stuff in this video. Paw play, wrestling, toy licking, barking, and my favorite is that at around :37, red collar Rose climbs up on the potty turf and looks around for a good place to go. Unfortunately, her body wasn’t quite ready yet so she began walking again to get things moving and didn’t quite make the full circuit back to the turf before she pooped (I cut off filming right at that point so that I could lift her back onto the turf) but A+ for effort!

February 20th

The puppies have had a real boost in their bravery and are into exploring and a lot of play behaviors, seems like overnight they have blossomed! As a result, I have reconfigured the puppy room so that they now sleep in a large dog crate (the door has been removed so they can come and go as they please), have a play area, and the opposite end hosts the potty zone.

Here is a video of their morning play time, out in the living room. This is the first time they’ve seen the puppy play tunnel and aren’t overly interested in it today, but are spending a lot of time climbing onto the raised dog bed, climbing and chewing on me, and even some carrying/toy shaking!

February 21st

New photos posted on our facebook page, click HERE.

Also- a couple photos of their new habitat:

Click HERE to see the next week’s blog.

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