We have been doing this program for a while now, but recently it has been stress that I need a page dedicated to explain what we are doing so here it is:
We have spent much time researching early development of puppies and will continue to as this is one of the main focuses of our kennel. On this page we will be providing information on this subject along with documenting a litter of McCracken's Huskies puppies being raised. Thank you Kellie for allowing us to use your documentation of one of your litters!
Dog behavior is determined by many interdependent biological and experiential factors. This behavior is guided and modified by the influence of experience. Puppies early environmental circumstances can be either a beneficial or a destructive influence. Every moment offers the potential for constructive learning and adaptation or the reverse.
investigation, we found an interesting fact, "According to research, 35% of
a dog's ultimate behavioral make up is genetic and 65% is attributed to
management, training, socialization, nutrition and health care of the
puppy." (Hastings & Rouse, 2004) 1
What this means is:
1. Puppies provided with poor socialization or deprived of environmental exposure often develop lifelong dysfunctional behaviors.
2. A puppy that does not have enough contact with other puppies and people during the first 8 wks of life will fail to bond with people later in life, will exhibit behavioral and cognitive disabilities, have poor learning and problem solving skills, are extremely hyperactive and have extreme fear and avoidance issues.
3. Puppies bred under careless conditions will exhibit the following: Patterns of extreme hyperactivity, intense aggressiveness, fear of people and other dogs, separation anxiety and are extremely difficult to house train. Even with the most supportive training, socialization, environmental exposure and patience these puppies will never reach their full potential.
During age 3 weeks to 16 weeks the average puppy will learn more than during the remaining years of it's lifetime!!
Early Development Periods:
1. Neonatal Period - Birth to 12 days of age
2. Transitional Period - 12 to 21 days of age
3. Socialization Period - 21 - 84 days of age
4. Juvenile Period - 84 days to Sexual Maturity
1. Neonatal Period
Meet Yuri and Miracle's puppies! The two black and white pups are male, the red pup is a girl. In this picture they are 6 days old and quite plump! Everyone is well over 2 lbs now. We monitor this to make sure they double their birth weight in the first week. This lets us know everyone is nursing enough. In a small litter this is very easy to see but in a larger litter, it's important to keep track of weights as you definitely want to make sure all pups are nursing and nobody is getting shoved out of the way.
During this time most of a puppy's time is spent sleeping and nursing. However, early neonatal handling involving as little as 3 minutes a day and exposure to various mild environmental stressors may have positive impacts on a puppy's resistance to disease, emotional reactivity and mature learning and problem solving abilities. Studies have shown animals left undisturbed during this period are consistently more emotionally reactive as adults.
We practice Bio Sensor Exercises with our puppies. This is a program developed by the U.S. Military to improve performance of dogs. This later became known as the Super Dog Program. The benefits of these exercises include:
1. Improved Cardiovascular performance (heart rate)
2. Stronger heart beats
3. Stronger adrenal glands
4. More tolerance to stress
5. Greater resistance to disease
Bio Sensor exercises are done from 3 days of age to 16 days of age.
(THANK YOU TIM FOR THE PICTURE!)
Hello Puppy! We gently breathe into a puppy's face as although this early in life their eyes and ears are closed, they can definitely smell and we want them to be used to our scent.
Tactile Stimulation - This pup is being gently tickled between the toes of his foot with a Q-Tip. This lasts 3-5 seconds. He doesn't mind!
He is now held perpendicular to the ground for 3-5 seconds. What a chub!
He is now held with his head pointed downward towards the ground for 3-5 seconds. He snoozed all through this!
Supine Position - He is now resting on his back gently in both hands for 3-5 seconds. He was not especially thrilled with this but that is okay. It's a gentle stimulation.
Thermal Stimulation - He is now placed gently feet down on a cool damp towel for 3-5 seconds. He immediately found his way back to the carpet which is more than okay! We do not restrain them in any way during this exercise.
We are now two weeks old and guess what??? Our eyes and ears have opened!!!
Look at those gorgeous blue eyes! All siberian husky puppies are born with blue eyes. Breeders can usually tell by 3 - 3 1/2 wks though if they will stay blue or turn brown or amber. We could also have bi eyes (each eye a different color) or a parti eye (one eye that is blue with a crescent of brown in it). All eye colors are acceptable with the AKC including bi and parti eyes.
This little boy's head shape is just incredible, I must say. Nice round and wide. I am in love!
It is during this time that puppies start seeking "contact comfort" (social bonding or as you can easily see "snuggling"!) You will often see a big pile of chubby puppies all snoozing away. And while this litter is too sleepy to show you at the moment (full tummies), they have also managed to get up on all four legs and walk! Considering how chubby they are, this was no easy feat and earned plenty "oooh's and aaaah's"!)
(Beginning at 3 wks of age)
"Between 3-5 weeks of age puppies take interest in social interaction. Puppies spend a large amount of time playing with each other and with toys. This period is extremely important for the development of a stable emotional temperament."
At 3 wks of age, a variety of noises (music, radio, alarms, bells, vacuums, etc....) should be a part of a puppy's life. The exposure to sudden loud noises must happen during this week, when fear has not developed. The startle response should be encouraged so that the pup will startle and then return to normal on it's own, something it must be able to do throughout it's life. I run the vacuum daily during this period, clap loudly, slam doors occasionally and set alarms to go off to encourage their startle response.
This is also the time that we start separating pups from the litter for very brief periods of time as puppies not exposed to separation experiences early tend to become excessively reactive when they are finally exposed to it. It is important to work with puppies not only as a group, but as individuals.
Below we are 3 1/2 wks old! (Happy, Sleepy and Grumpy!)
From 5 wks of age on, we are continually working with the puppies not only as a group but individually. We have been gradually increasing the individual time with the puppy for a couple weeks now. This teaches each puppy independence and prevents separation anxiety problems later in life.
At 6 wks of age, puppies are entering a stage we call "Secondary Socialization". A puppy's willingness to approach strangers confidently and explore new things is at it's highest and we like to take advantage of that. We are constantly introducing new toys and areas for the puppies to play and explore in. The more positive, fun experiences a puppy has at this age, the better!
1. The socialization period from 3-12 wks is a critical period for social learning. AT NO OTHER TIME in a dog's life is he more receptive to training based on affection and reward. Eight week old puppies function at nearly an adult level in terms of learning ability. At 16 wks of age, this level of learning ability starts to decrease.
2. There is a brief window of time between 7 -9 wks of age when teaching "sit", "stay", and housebreaking is most easily accomplished. Take advantage of this!!!!
3. Leash training to heel is most easily accomplished between 12-13 wks of age.
Hastings & Rouse, 2004, Another Piece of the puzzle: Puppy Development. Dogfolk Enterprises, Aloha Oregon