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Full instructions for actually whelping a litter is beyond the scope of this film. However, we wanted to bring up a couple of points that we feel are often missed in other books and films on the subject. Genes can switch on and off or express themselves differently, depending on environmental input. There's some evidence that mother dogs who receive caressing and affection during pregnancy will give birth to more docile puppies. So your first priority is to make sure that your mother dog is well-fed, comfortable, and getting lots of affection. Whenever possible, remove any upsetting or negative things from her environment. Avoid encounters with any dogs which are not 100% friendly. Even friendly mothers may decide they want a private place as they near their time to whelp their puppies. Watch for behavioral changes. And if your bitch looks like she wants some privacy, secure a room for her, which will be private and away from the activity in the rest of the house. This varies a lot from breed to breed. Some mothers enjoy the company of other dogs when they have puppies. And some mothers don't even want other dogs near the door to their rooms. So if your bitch is asking for more privacy, baby gate the hallways leading up to her room, so that she has that extra buffer zone. You'll need to form a relationship with a veterinarian. Even for experienced breeders, this can be the most nerve-racking part of the process. If you're new to the area and/or you don't already have a veterinarian you trust, ask other breeders in your area whom they use. Make sure that whoever you use, they're experienced in canine reproduction, that they're a skilled surgeon-- experienced in C-sections-- and available 24/7, should you need assistance. You should also know where the closest emergency vet is. You should time all your breedings, using blood tests. A blood test can tell you, within a couple hours, when your bitch has ovulated. And you can very accurately predict when the puppies are due, based on that information. Having an accurate due date can save the life of your mother and her puppies. So even if you don't think you really need to do ovulation timing in order to get your bitch pregnant, you should still do ovulation timing so you have an accurate due date, which could save the life of your bitch and her puppies. Using breeding dates to calculate a due date is extremely inaccurate and can be off as much as five to seven days. So again, form a relationship with a good reproductive veterinarian, and do ovulation timing. You should always have a head count prior to your bitch whelping. It's helpful to know how many puppies are in there, because a retained puppy can be fatal to your bitch. Also, if there's a puppy that's slow to come out, there are things that a veterinarian can do, with drugs and surgical procedures, to save that puppy. But if you don't know ahead of time how many puppies are in there, you may miss a puppy, which could cost the puppy, and even the mother, their lives. Once we confirm pregnancy, we start stocking up on raw goat milk. Call your local 4-H or agricultural extension to find a dairy willing to sell you raw milk for your dogs. We freeze it in gallon containers, and it's a great source of calcium for the bitch after she whelps. We also use it to wean the puppies. And we go through a lot of it, so it's good to start stocking up at least a month beforehand. Here's a recap of Dr. Battaglia's early neurological stimulation exercises. Once a day, from day 3 through day 16, perform these exercises for three to five seconds each. Tickle between any two of his toes with a Q-tip. Hold the puppy with his head up. Hold the puppy with his head down. Hold the puppy on his back. Next, turn the puppy over, and lay the puppy on a cool, damp washcloth. You should follow these precautions when you're doing these exercises. Never do the exercise for longer than prescribed, and do not do the exercises more than once a day. If, for any reason, a puppy's already stressed, skip the exercises. Some examples are, if the litter were premature, or you've just performed tail docking or dew claw removal, or if the puppy is sick in any way. Skip the exercises. The puppy's stressed enough. Although we assign time frames for developmental periods in puppies, developmental periods are actually defined by behavioral markers. Puppies can be off as much as a week on their developmental periods. So you need to watch each puppy carefully to know what developmental period that particular puppy really is in. The transitional period begins when the puppy's eyes open-- somewhere around 12 to 14 days. But that can vary a lot. The transitional period ends when the puppy first startles upon hearing a noise-- usually around 21 days. But again, that can vary a lot. The reason we use these particular behavioral markers for the transitional period, is that useful vision and hearing are necessary for them to enter into the next developmental period, which will be the socialization period. You should consult your veterinarian and breeding mentors about how and when to wean your puppies, but we're going to share our weaning method. This is for example only and is not intended as professional advice. Research "raw weaning" for more ideas. When the puppies are two weeks old, if you haven't done so already, you should start giving their mother raw goat milk in the whelping box. Goat milk has smaller molecules than cow milk and is much more digestible. You should warm the goat milk so it feels just slightly warm on your arm, but not hot. Serve the milk in a heavy, wide, shallow bowl that can't be tipped easily. A glass pie plate is ideal. If the bitch is guardie with her food, skip this step. The puppies will see their mother drinking the milk and take an interest in it. They'll begin to lap the goat milk when they're ready, usually at around two and 1/2 weeks old. You should never leave small puppies unattended with an open dish of liquid. Fill the dish no deeper than one inch-- less for small breeds. Once they're lapping liquid for one to two days, add a tiny bit of lean muscle meat, ground to a paste. It should be fine enough to almost dissolve in the milk. We use raw venison, but to be safe, you must freeze meat before giving it to the puppies. The meat should be frozen to at least zero degrees for at least two days. We don't add any organ meats or bone yet. The meat paste that you add to the milk will be cold, so make sure the milk is warm enough to bring the overall temperature of the food up to feel slightly warm when you stick your finger in it. But you should never cook the milk or the meat. Remember. Feed only raw meat. Cooked meat is not easily digested by puppies and is very likely to make your puppies sick. Over the next two weeks, you can gradually increase the proportion of meat to milk. You can start adding banana and canned pumpkin, very gradually. Remember. Keep the mix warm, but do not ever cook it. Large, raw, meaty bones can be introduced at around three to four weeks, depending on the breed. Never feed cooked bones. Cooking changes the chemical structure of bones. And cooked bones can splinter and/or obstruct your puppies' intestines. Cooked bones are completely different than raw bones, and they present a serious health hazard to your puppies. Judge the size of the bones by the breed of the puppy and their ability to chew. It's safest to give large bones, such as femur or beef rib, so the puppies can get exercise chewing meat and sinew, but can't actually crack off pieces from the bone. We gradually transition the puppies to an adult mix of ground raw food when they're between six and eight weeks old. At every stage, add only a small amount of one additional thing per day. And make sure the puppies are tolerating it well, before adding more or something different. We still add warm milk to the puppies' meat until they're at least 12 weeks old, or older if we have a lot of milk left over. Here are the key points for you to remember about the critical socialization period. Socialization is a scientific term of art. And the socialization period begins when the puppies first startle upon hearing a sound-- usually at about three weeks old-- and ends when they reach their minimum willingness to approach new things and maximum tendency to flee-- usually about 12 weeks old. These behavioral markers are biologically determined. Puppies who are well socialized may not show obvious outward signs when the socialization period ends. But the underlying process is the same. Domestication has softened the edges of the critical socialization period. And there may be some flexibility up to 16 weeks, but the decline is fairly sharp after 12 weeks old. So it's a good practice to assume the critical socialization period will end by 12 weeks, and get your work done before then. After 12 weeks old, if there's been no previous intervention, dogs will view anything new with suspicion, which may result either in fear or aggression. After the critical socialization period has ended, puppy and dog owners can still use counterconditioning desensitization and training, but it will take many more repetitions to achieve the same result. And because of the amount of time and effort required, there may be practical limits to how much change you can effect. Depending on how undersocialized the dog is, you may not always be successful, because the brain chemistry is just not the same. Technically, the socialization period is what we would call a sensitive period, not a critical period, because there is some flexibility, even after the socialization period is over. However, because of the amount of time and resources it would take to rehabilitate a completely unsocialized dog, we stand by the assessment that the socialization period truly is critical, because very few people will have the time, resources, and willingness to invest in a dog that completely miss the critical socialization period. Your cultural ideal of a dog will dictate the components of your socialization program. We feel the following areas should be nurtured in the puppy before he's 12 weeks old-- communication, emotional stability, habituation, enrichment, health, skills, and love. Here's a recap of what you should be doing with puppies when they're three weeks old. Make sure you allow adult dogs to escape from the puppies. Create low barriers that will exclude the puppies, but let the big dogs get away. Some breeders will place a platform in, or adjacent to, the whelping box so the bitch can still be close to her puppies, but get away from them when they become annoying. Clip the puppies' nails regularly, both to help them grow up straight and strong, and desensitize them to having their feet handled. When the puppies have the vision to see and show interest in objects-- usually around three and 1/2 weeks old-- introduce a new toy or visual object into the whelping box each day. At this time, you can also add a potty area into the whelping box. Begin socialization to humans this week, in the safety of your own home. Ask everyone to remove their shoes before entering the puppy area. Have everyone wash their hands with plain soap and water, and ask them to lather their hands for at least 20 seconds. Strong antibacterial soaps are not needed, and it's probably not a good idea to expose the puppies to those kinds of harsh chemicals. The US Center for Disease Control advises that washing hands with soap and water in this manner is the most effective method of preventing the spread of disease. Ask them to change their clothes, if they've been to a place where there's a lot of dogs-- for instance, a dog park, vet's office, or dog show. And always ask guests if they have a sick dog at home. If they do have a sick dog at home, ask them to change their clothes or maybe even postpone their visit till their dog's feeling better. This is the week to encourage the puppy startle-recovery cycle by making loud, sudden noises. Slam doors, drop dog dishes, start a vacuum, and startle the puppies with objects. Try looking in baby consignment stores for objects and toys that make unusual or scary sounds. You can buy recordings of various types of noise, such as dog show noise or children playing, which will help habituate the puppies to different kinds of sound. But remember. What we want to do is startle the puppies. So those recordings are not a substitute for actually startling the puppies with sudden, loud noises. This is also the week where you should begin to separate each puppy from the litter for short periods of time. It's great to spend as much individual time as possible with each puppy, but it may not be realistic-- especially when you have a large litter-- to spend a lot of time each day with each individual puppy. The good news is, even if you spend individual time with each puppy only once or twice during this week, it will have a positive effect on them. Here are the key things you should be doing with your puppies when they're four weeks old. Move the puppies to a weaning pen with a potty area. The size of your weaning pen will depend on your breed and size of dog, but we use a 6'-by-8' pen. Keep introducing the puppies to novel objects on a daily basis. If you haven't already done so, you can introduce other appropriate and friendly members of the household at this time. Begin to add challenges in problem-solving. Turn a regular soup pot upside down, and put a blanket over it in the weaning pen. Have the puppies climb out of the weaning pen to be fed in another room. Create a speed bump the puppies have to pass over. We use rolled-up carpet padding. Create your own challenges, using your imagination and your breed's characteristics. Things like scent exercises, introduction to shallow dishes of water, and food puzzles are all great challenges for puppies at this age. Remember. Puppies can't see much at this age, so set up an appropriate level of challenge, based on your puppies' breed, size, and useful vision. For the barrier challenge, we use an exercise pen and place a food dish six inches from the edge. We show the puppy the food and then place the puppy on the other side of the barrier-- again, six inches from the edge. Once the puppy masters this, we move to level 2. We place the puppy further away from the food. And then we also introduce another puppy eating already, to increase frustration level. Here's a review of the procedures for powering up a training marker. Unique sounds work best, but it doesn't have to be a clicker. You can use a word, a different sound-- like a whistle or a bell-- or even a hand sign for a deaf puppy. However, whatever you use, be it a word, a sound, or a signal, should be unique and not something the puppy sees or hears all the time. So "yesss" is a great training marker, because you rarely say "yesss" in conversation. But "yes" is not a good training marker, because the puppy's gonna hear that a thousand times a day. For deaf puppies, I usually use a thumbs-up sign. You can also buy collars that will vibrate, and you can use that as your marker. It's crucial that you get the order of events correct. Present the marker, and then feed within half a second. It is absolutely crucial that the marker comes first and then the food. If you have trouble coordinating things, put your food hand behind your back, and don't bring it around again until after you've set off your marker. Usually, with a small puppy, 30 to 60 seconds one time is enough to produce a true, classically-conditioned response. For the box game, hold a low-sided box in one hand and the clicker between the thumb and index finger of the other hand. Close the remaining three fingers in the clicker hand over one piece of food. You can have more food ready on a shelf or in your pocket. But for now, just concentrate on having that one piece of food ready. Most puppies will investigate the box as soon as you put it down, so you want to be ready to catch that first behavior-- everything, even accidental touches at first. It doesn't matter at all what the puppies offer. We're instilling a concept, not a behavior. Don't try to shape anything specific. Literally, if the only thing the puppy will do is walk away from the box, click it. If you can get your four-week-old puppy to offer you anything, it's enough, and your work is finished. However, if you want to learn more about shaping and take the box game to the next level, pick up a copy of my book, "When Pigs Fly-- Training Success with Impossible Dogs." To begin the manding exercise, sit on the floor with the puppy. A normal puppy will jump on you. If he doesn't jump on you, you have a different problem. And you probably should stick with the box game for a while, just to get the puppy to open up to you more. If the puppy's already jumping on you, just remain impassive and wait until he shows any sign of backing off. Even putting one paw back on the floor-- click that. If the puppy is overly persistent, you may gently place the puppy back on the floor. But don't say anything at all to the puppy when you do so. Once the puppy has backed off a few times, wait for him to actually sit. And then mark and treat that. Do not add a verbal cue. Remember. The presence of a human is going to be the cue for the puppy to automatically sit. Here's a recap of what we feel are the best practices for structuring a puppy training session. For puppies under 12 weeks old, one to three minutes of training seems to be the optimal length of time. You can train for longer periods of time, but we found that six minutes seems to be about the maximum length of time a puppy under 12 weeks of age can train, before response fatigue seems to set in. At least 30 minutes of rest in between sessions is optimal, and probably longer is better. It's best if the puppy sleeps in between sessions, but not mandatory. Sleep is beneficial, because during sleep, the puppy's brain is flooded with cleansing chemicals which help the learning process. But any kind of break from training works well, too. In reality, it's probably more than enough to train your puppy once or twice a day. But if you enjoy training, you can do as many sessions as you like, so long as you allow the puppy to get his normal amount of sleep and don't continually wake him up to train, when he should be napping. As your puppy grows, you can gradually increase the training time up to 15 minutes by the time he's five months old. You can reduce the rest time to 15 minutes in between sessions at this point, but at least 30 minutes, or more, is still optimal. Sleep is still the best option. But where this isn't practical-- as, for instance, in a puppy training class-- breaking out into play sessions, settling with some puppy massage, or even just bringing a crate and giving the puppy a bone to chew on while he rests, is great. Be aware that many puppy training classes are not structured to give what we feel are adequate rest periods. So come prepared with crate toys and chew objects, so you can break up the training sessions yourself. Don't worry about missing any instruction. Just take notes on what the instructor is teaching during your puppies' rest times, and then you can go home and teach those things later. For all dogs of all ages, from puppy to adult, power training sessions of approximately two minutes are extremely effective. In particular, we found that power training sessions are the best way for a dog to learn a new skill. Once the dog masters the skill, you can increase the duration of practice sessions. But again, we found that short sessions are the quickest way to teach a dog something new. While you should provide a very minimum of 15 minutes' rest between sessions, it's been scientifically proven that longer rests can be even better. The effects of distributed learning can continue to be seen with days, weeks, or even months of rest. And in our observation, longer rests can sometimes be extremely beneficial when a dog seems stuck and unable to learn a behavior.

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Duration: 24 minutes and 3 seconds
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Posted by: norabean on Apr 2, 2018

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