I put a kennel in their sleeping area and propped the door open for them to crawl in and out. By the time I am ready to shut one in with the door closed, they won’t even notice.
My mama dogs are part of our family and sleep next to our bed. When the babies come, they live indoors for the first part of their lives and I am with them continuously, including up and down during the night, just like with human newborns.
As the pups grow, they are moved to the breezeway or garage where they have space to run and play and slowly start to house break themselves by having access to the fenced yard. As they grow, they potty a little further and further away from their bedding, til eventually it is on the far side of the yard.
This gives them a good start for you training them where you would like for them to go. (Please note that no matter how good of a start they get, it is only a start. No dog is completely trained at 8 weeks, there is a lot of work ahead for you!)
At almost three weeks, they start edging out of the bed towards the potty pads, and I have pads out for their overnight needs as they get older too. When we traveled across country to deliver pups to new families, I was very glad that they were also pad trained. That sure helped at 2am in a hotel.
At about the same time they start using the pads, they also get training in eye contact. From the moment they are born, each has been snuggled, tickled, cuddled, and manipulated around enough to know that human touch is safe and pleasant. Once their eyes open, I make a habit of gazing into those sweet, befuddled eyes each time the baby is picked up and make sure that everyone in the family knows to do that before cuddle time.
As they learn to wobble around their nest, I start getting their attention, and having them meet my gaze before lifting and petting. Along with that, I will coax them to me with “come, puppy!” in a sing song tone. Training has begun very early, but all they know is that someone loves them and wants to give them attention.
At this time, I concentrate on the ones who do not enjoy being held as much as the others. There are always a couple who would rather be left in the nest. Those get put into a soft, cross body sling I wear as I vacuum or fix dinner. This has worked to turn their attitude around and makes them as comfortable with humans as they are with their siblings.
During weaning, which starts with formula at 3 to 3-1/2 weeks and progresses to soft foods, I set aside some of the meal to hand feed. This is when I begin working on getting them to sit and look at me for a bite of food. I do this one on one to start with, but by about 7 weeks, the whole litter knows to look in my eyes and sit politely to get their bite.
A crate is set up with bedding for them, so they are used to it from about 4 weeks old. Daily, I will shut them all in it together while I mop up. At six weeks, I start putting a couple in with the door shut at random times. At 7 weeks, they go into crates alone for short periods.
As an artist, I work from a home studio with a concrete floor. The door opens into the puppies’ yard and in nice weather is left open for them to wander in and out. In the evenings, every family member scoops up a puppy or two for holding while watching TV or reading a book. We switch them out so everyone gets turns getting used to being a beloved house dog.
Toys are washed daily and switched out, so there is always a variety. The little guys are so excited over new toys and run to see what I bring them. I add bright colored step stools and other large items for them to explore, but do not leave them out all of the time. The pups seem to thrive by having their play area changed and updated.
Raising puppies takes months of commitment, running on little sleep, and lots of determination to give those babies a taste of care and devotion so that they grow up to be confident and loving pets.
A dog is a long term commitment, that does not end when the cuteness fades and old age sets in. This is 14 year old Twinkle, who is now blind and kind of off in her own world but who still loves a scratch behind her ear, hearing her name repeated, and getting a good treat.
My goal is to raise happy, healthy dogs that will be so loved that their families will be there for them til the end, like we are with Twinkle.
Honey, our golden retriever is from Health Tested lines, both her parents were clear. The poodle stud that she was bred with is fully tested.
Sugar has had a DNA panel, and is OFA certified in hips, eyes, and heart. The stud we use for her is also fully tested.
I do not do DNA tests on each puppy when born, but can tell you that their parents were studied before the breeding to be a good match up of traits and to produce healthy dogs. We can do an educated guess of the size of the dog as an adult, but cannot promise a certain weight.
All pups will be vet checked, treated for parasites, have all required shots up to 8 weeks, and be microchipped. You will need to register the chip yourself and consult your own vet for continuing vaccines.
I have often given away a puppy to family and friends so I can watch it grow up. If you decide to get a dog from me, please send me updates and photos, I love to hear how my grand dogs are doing.
Honey is starting to wean her Butterballs, so feeds them less often. I need to be sure that the itty bitty ones get plenty of milk before Sugar is drained by the big guys.
Also the older ones play a little rougher and since they weigh more, the teensie ones get overwhelmed. Although, they are becoming wrestlers too and pretty much hold their own.
So far, it has been a lovely fall, and the pups have been outside a bit. Not as much as I’d like. Summer puppies sure are easier to care for.
But we have a system for cleaning them up, and they are getting used to being in crates and watching me as I spray out their areas. I have even had a chance, although not much of a one, to do some crafting. I gathered the vines and dried flowers to make this wreath.
But 16 babies in chilly weather takes up most of my time. I won’t know what to do with myself when they are gone!
(Videos of the litters can be found on Instagram at Cottage Doodles)
I made the doggie moms a special treat, of milk, cottage cheese, pumpkin, and canned puppy food topped with chopped Tums sprinkles.
They need lots of calcium and calories, plus pumpkin for tummy issues after giving birth.
And they love it when I sing to them, so they got an off tune “Happy Birthday” from me.
Although, it is just right for the newborns.
Speaking of newborns, I am glad I started this sketches of the red pups when they were tiny. Studying their spots to paint them helped me to learn which was which.
And the new families they will go to, don’t see them at this age. So maybe they would like to have watercolor sketches of the first few days.
There are no amount of paintings that will help me with Sugar’s black babes, though! Oh my. They are very similar.
As everyone grows, it gets easier. Sugar’s pups seem to have different coat textures, even if they are the same jet black, I’ll know how to tell them apart from that, and a couple white spots. The problem with the red pups, was that the spots were too similar.
Then I learned that some have freckled bellies, one has angel wings, another a T, one a butterfly. A couple are blobbity splotches that still throw me off a little. I have to get my diagrams out when I weigh them. But once they start showing some personality, that will change.
So she went into my closet and dug a hole through the drywall. If I let her out of my sight, she was right back at it.
I was up with her most of the night, she was frantic. My husband took turns with watching her, we could not leave her unattended.
The poor dog couldn’t relax and go to her whelping box. If I took her outside, she tried to dig a den. I had to keep her by my side and on a leash all day. She was so upset, she could not stop panting and trying to go build her nest.
Finally, we came to a compromise. My husband cleared everything out of his office closet, and we laid down a whelping pad. It was small and dark, just what she wanted. She seemed happy as soon as she walked in and sniffed around.
Within moments, she delivered her first little girl, all she needed was a place she felt right in.
Soon, there were a couple more babies. Honey’s mood was nurturing and calm. All the frenzy of the last 18 hours was gone.
Once she got into her groove, we bundled the babies in a towel and transferred them into the previously unacceptable whelping box, which she was fine with now.
The box was much better for her than the closet, and at this point, she wasn’t going to argue with me. She was busy caring for the little ones and having a few more.
Honey was doing great and so were the pups. She didn’t need my help one single time. I was just there for petting and moral support.
Five girls and boys girls, all red with white markings, came quickly, safely, and efficiently.
For having such a rough start, she certainly turned it all around. It ended up being the most simple delivery I have ever seen from one of my dogs.
And now, we are all getting caught up on the sleep we missed last night, and counting our blessings.
Newborns can be a lot of work for a new mama, and often they need some help.
Luckily, Sugar has her mother, Honey, to ease her load.
A few times a day, I remove their bedding and sanitize the nest. While the babies are waiting out of their box, their grandmother tends to them and babysits.
Sugar gets a little break, I get some help in corralling them, and we both appreciate Honey’s efforts.