How we raise our puppies.......what a difference it makes!
At Gotta Be Goldens, when we have a planned litter, we are home 24/7 with our puppies from birth until they go home after 8 weeks of age. Raising puppies the right way means sleeping on the couch next to the whelping box before the litter is whelped and until the the pups go home. We take raising puppies very seriously as we know their beginning experiences are the foundation of a wonderful life once they leave for their forever homes. Attending to the Dam as well as the puppies every whim is very important to us as comfort, safety, security and peace of mind knowing that we are there for them. Puppies are whelped in our family room or a planned C-section is scheduled based on progesterone readings and temperature drops. Dams are never left alone to fend for themselves or whelp their litters on their own. My veterinarian, Dr. Tim Bostley is on call and his cell phone may ring at anytime of the night if I need him for any reason whatsoever. Even though Dr. Tim is a 45 minute drive from my house, I would never entrust anyone but him to whelp my puppies by C-section - that is how much I trust him!
The puppies have the ultimate in whelping boxes as we use the Jonart whelping box with the attached weaning pen. With an insulated bottom, pig rails and an easy to clean surface , we use laminated whelping pads to wick away any moisture and keep the puppies dry at all times as well as fleece so puppies may grip the flooring easily to learn to crawl and get around.
After the pups are born, they are identified with a hook & loop colored velcro collar so that we may document their weight and development from day 1. Usually around 2 weeks, we then use a flat buckle fabric collar (no D rings) which they will wear until they go to their new homes.
Once the puppies are three days old, we begin using early neurological stimulation using the Bio Sensor Program. There are five benefits to early handling and stimulation none of which occur naturally at this stage of life.
1. Improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate)
2. Stronger heart beats
3. Stronger adrenal glands
4. More tolerance to stress
5. Greater resistance to disease.
This early stimulation, along with handling, socialization and a highly enriched environment help the puppies transition easily to their new families with less stress. This makes for a well adapted puppy who can transition easily from one situation to another with confidence.
Week 1 is all about warmth, staying dry and nursing from mom. Since their eyes & ears are not open, the early neurological exercises expose them to situations that would not normally happen in week 1. This is an important aspect of creating a well rounded puppy. Nail clippings start as early as day 5 and continue every few days until pups go home. Mom spends almost every moment possible with the pups.
Week 2 when the puppies ears and eyes begin to open (usually between 10 - 14 days old), we add many stuffed toys, kong toys, bones and balls to the whelping box area. Puppies are learning to steady themselves up on all four legs and hear their voices for the very first time. Mom is starting to want to spend less time with them in the whelping box but always attending to their needs. First worming at 2 weeks starts and followed every 2 weeks thereafter until the puppy is 8 weeks old.
Week 3 puppies are up on all fours, barking, and teething too! Usually their teeth are starting to emerge as well. Lots of handling, clipping of nails and learning to drink water from the Water Boy container. It is a whole new world to explore with lots of holding, socializing and meeting the other dogs in the house once they venture into the weaning pen which has vertical slats so they can see the new world outside the whelping box. We introduce litter box training so that the puppies are eliminating in one area. Normally within a day, puppies have learned where to go with great success!
Week 4 we start introducing soaked & mashed kibble (we feed Royal Canin Maxi Starter formula) to the puppies as long as their teeth are in. Within the first week, puppies will go from 1 feeding a day of kibble to two by week 5. They are still nursing from Mom but she tends to want to spend less time in the whelping box but still sleeps with them at night.
Week 5 Week 5 is when the puppies venture outside onto our deck filled with puppy agility equipment. At this time, mom doesn't sleep in the whelping box at night anymore and occasionally may visit once during the night to let the puppies nurse. Puppies will be eating kibble 3 times a day.
Week 6 we introduce the grooming table to the puppies for getting their nails clipped, learning to stand & stack on the table so that we may start evaluating which puppy we would like to keep or place in homes as a potential show pick. New surfaces such as grass, pea gravel and cement are introduced in our outside fenced in dog areas so puppies are exposed to different footing. Puppies are bathed and blow dried to expose them to water and dryers.
Week 7 the puppies are temperament tested. We use the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test. Fellow breeders and trainers help us evaluate each puppy for temperament. This information helps us match the right puppy with each potential puppy applicant. Lots of visits from friends, family and new puppy owners continue the socialization process. In the summer, pups will be introduced to kiddie pools and learn to swim. Fall and winter, they will be exposed to either leaves or snow depending on the month & weather! In the spring, pups will learn about rain and mud! Crate training also starts so that puppies are sleeping in crates at night and not eliminating during the night.
Week 8 the puppies are evaluated for structure using Pat Hastings Evaluation Method. With the help of other breeders we are able to choose potential show puppies in a litter. The reason we are breeding is to keep at least one puppy (or more) from each litter to show, obtain hip/elbow/eye/heart clearances on our offspring and be able to see exactly what we are producing in each litter.
We follow a low vaccine protocol using Jean Dodds' protocol. Click below to see the protocol and reasoning behind our choices.
Puppies receive their first set of shots by my veterinarian, Dr. Tim Bostley at 8 weeks of age as well as a full exam checking eyes, hearts and testicles on the males. A health certificate is issued and provided to you when you pick up your puppy. We provide a Everything Puppy Book detailing all the necessary information needed for bringing up your puppy properly as well as many articles on crate training, slow growth feeding method, and detailed information on training.
All show puppies will be placed in the appropriate homes (and those selections will be made prior to any pet puppy placements) and pet puppies will then be determined based on temperament testing and best matched to each individual home.
Our puppies do not go home until they are between 8 and 9 weeks old. We feel that keeping the puppies with their litter mates and mom for the extra week is beneficial to their emotional growth which makes them better able to adjust to their new homes. It is a time where the puppies learn a tremendous amount about being a dog such as appropriate social skills, reading other dog's body language, and bite inhibition. All of these skills will help create a more balanced puppy for their new family.
As you can see, we put a lot into raising our puppies and we hold our puppy families to the same expectations. We require early socialization and ongoing training to continue the work we started. Raising a healthy well balanced dog is a big responsibility and should not be taken lightly. We are always available for support on any issue throughout the lifetime of your dog.