Today is a big day. A very big day! The puppies are 7 weeks old.
The waiting families know what today is. We lovingly call it ‘show dog day’ even though we are not breeding or evaluation for show qualities. 7 weeks old does mark the day that we do structural evaluations. This is the final piece in the puzzle for making puppy matching decisions.
The day starts off with their weekly weigh in . Okay- it starts off with breakfast, a walk and clean up as usual- but weigh in is the first notable thing. This week is pretty tough as the puppies have really outgrown the postage scale we use and any little wiggle throws things off. Here’s their growth chart (note that I arranged it a little differently this week).
After this, the puppies settled in for a nap. We went for a bigger walk and play in the snow around 11 am. Then, headed into the training building to set up for the photo shoot. The play part is important because the puppies need to stand in a specific stance – a conformation stack- to be properly evaluated. If their muscles aren’t warmed up, they may not be able to hold the position well, or, if they do, cold muscles change the appearance of their structure, usually in an unfavorable way.
So we got the play out of the way, set up the photo booth. Crank the tunes and get the party started! This time, I set up my ipad to video and took film of the puppy stacking. Then I was able to go through and grab stills from the most suitable moments. This actually worked much better than I expected and though the photo quality isn’t awesome, I think the quality of the puppy positioning in the photos is better than usual.
I posted some new pictures on our facebook page- we are getting in at least 3 walks a day now in this glorious weather. Sometimes we take a grandma with us, sometimes it’s just us puppies. Because it’s so nice out, the puppies are now spending most of the day out in the indoor/outdoor kennel run. This provides a couple of perks for them over being housebound all day- first, they can let themselves out to potty through the dog door- they already understand this concept well and now that they have control over their own individual potty routines, they have had no accidents! The other major perk is that the puppies get exposed to a different atmosphere and with it, new noises, smells and visual stimulation. As an example, we’ve been busy moving snow piles around the yard with the tractor over the last few days so the puppies have had great opportunities to hear a noisy tractor work. They are also being desensitized the smell of farm critters what with the ducks, chickens, rabbits and sheep nearby.
When we begin to incorporate loud noises into the puppies repertoire’s of experiences, it’s always done at a distance and with a ‘good role model’ nearby- be that of human or grandma origin and typically paired with food since they are such foodhounds at this stage. Then, build up the volume by gradually getting closer to the noise source (or having the noise source get closer)- the speed of which this happens is dictated by puppies response. We are aiming for a ‘who cares’ or mildly interested attitude. Here’s a video of the puppies having lunch just a few feet from the tractor.
Puppy Matches have been made! Puppy families, please check your emails. Formal announcements will be made once I’ve heard back from all of the families.
Some things that the puppies have experienced in the past week or so that I have not yet mentioned: Gun shot noises, playing in puddles, introduction to a live pigeon. I’m sure there are other things- raising puppies regularly means that much of the things we do with the puppies are automatic and I have to really think about if I’ve reported them yet or not. Oh yes, full size agility tunnels, tippy boards, ramps and (stairs) small sets. None of these are things we go overboard on (especially stairs) but want puppies to have a good intro while they have the ‘positive peer pressure’ of their littermates and grannies around.
On an individual level, the puppies get some short training sessions on their own. Today, we did a clicker session with the soft crate. At this age, what they are learning is secondary to the fact that they are learning to learn, but positive interactions with the crate is always beneficial to every puppy. In these videos, the puppies show that everyone of them is a very quick learner. Note the short training sessions- between 3 and 4 1/2 minutes each, and a very high reward rate (I am just using plain kibble as a treat- every click means the puppy is getting one piece of kibble). I start by rewarding the puppies for any interaction with the crate, then going inside, going in a little further, then turning around inside the crate, and finally for voluntarily staying in the crate. Watch the body language of the puppies – by the end of each session the puppies, you can tell that they are thinking ‘I did it, I should get paid now!’ which means they are making the very important association that their actions determine if they are rewarded or not. Another aspect that you should be able to see in most of the clips is that the puppies notice that I have treats in my hand an pockets, but quickly give up on trying to steal them and go back to the crate where they know they can earn rewards. SO smart and excellent self control!
Here is Bonnie (now named Fig):
Here is Haggis (Now Rudy)
Here is Rabbie (now Orie)
Phillis (now named Minnie):
Mouse (now named Chai)
Rose (now Ruby) –
This morning the babies went for a walk with grandma Shelby. Well she must be getting a little weary as she ran quite far ahead up the trail, just maintaining a line of sight with the humans but too far for the little guys to notice her. However, they definitely knew she was ahead and keenly had their noses to the ground following her tracks! Dang I wish I had brought the video for that. When she finally did come back for a visit, they looked like they won the lottery – their prize at the end of the track!
Later in the day, it was time for their tattoos! Each Eromit puppy gets a unique ear tattoo that identifies them on their Canadian Kennel Club registration paperwork.
Now, they are enjoying a well deserved frozen-supper-in-a-kong. Chewing and really working for their food is a great way to burn calories, keeps their attention and is safe puppy exercise! I just crammed one puppy-sized raw food meal into each kong and stuck it in the freezer this morning. When they are finished, the kongs can go in the dishwasher for a good cleaning.