Lakehill Puppy Care Recommendations
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WHELPING OUR PUPPIES
Our home is located on about ten acres and about half an acre contains a kennel building with sixteen concrete runs and four large pens, and a big fenced yard. The runs are indoor/outdoor. I have a crate area inside the heated/air-conditioned building as well as grooming, whelping, food preparation areas and an office. Also in the back yard of my house I have a puppy yard.
I whelp my bitches usually in a puppy pen in my large country kitchen, or occasionally in the kennel. I use the bottom of a Vari Kennel in the puppy pen, and a heat lamp. I like the pens that have the floors that can be raised so I don't break my back leaning over to help Mom. Usually I have two to four litters per year. Some years I've skipped everyone because of family illness, etc. In recent years I co-owned bitches that didn't whelp here; or I've leased some out. I like to have sufficient time to really spend with the puppies, before I commit to a breeding.
I usually begin weaning about four weeks of age, offering baby cereal, Gerber's High Protein, a little baby food meat and buttermilk mixed with warm water. They always love this. By five weeks, I soak some kibble in the mixture and by six weeks I take Mom away totally. Up until then, she is with them at night (at least). I feed Diamond Puppy Food. I started about a year ago with it and like it very much. Of course, over thirty-plus years I've used many other brands and feel several are good. My adult dogs also eat Diamond Foods to which I add garlic and brewers yeast. The dogs love dog biscuits as a treat and for those I use Milk Bone.
I follow the Vet's direction on shots which was always six weeks, nine weeks, twelve weeks, and sixteen weeks. Lately I've done a couple of litters on a slightly later schedule with no lepto until a booster is due at a year old.
PICKING A SHOW PROSPECT PUPPY
I evaluate the puppies daily, mentally assessing qualities I like or dislike so by eight weeks I have a good idea who I want to sell as a pet or grow out longer. I use the Noble Chart as a guide, overall balance, nose leather at eight weeks. Our litters are usually four to eight puppies and I prefer about five. Usually I like a couple or more as show prospects. Last year, in a litter of four, three were keepers. I just couldn't decide, and I still like all three. As for ears (ugh!) -- they look so cute on top and I make myself wait to see if they are going to lift on their own and whatever. By nine or ten weeks, if not before, I have to get out the Speed Sew. Helps to see expression too. (NOTE: Although this may be fairly incomprehensible to a novice fancier, most breeders use something called the Noble Chart which has been developed to indicate acceptable sizes at various ages, as a method of predicting eventual adult size. Speed Sew is a substance used to help train ears by weighting them to fold properly if they tend to prick).
The show prospect puppy often is very obvious to me because it has the headpiece, expression, eye and balance that is superior to the other puppies. I also like to see the outgoing, runs-to-you puppy. Color and markings are not my primary concern, although I'll take pretty colors and full white collars if I get them. Our puppies are cute until about four months, when they get gangly and go through a variety of changes and stages until about six to nine months old. Even though they come together they are still immature and don't have the coat and filling-out that comes much later. Most are finished growing in height before one year, sometimes as early as nine months. Occasionally I have a puppy in bloom to show and some have won Majors, Sweeps, and Matches, but even those had to wait to finish at full maturity...which in my dogs, is about two-and-a-half to three years old. So, I sell very few show prospects before six months and most I grow out if possible. If I do sell one for Show young, I guarantee it to be in size, no disqualifications, with no health problems. Normally, I will replace the puppy to satisfy the guarantee..
At Lakehill, we are socializing the puppies from birth. We hold them, talking to them each day which is very important. After their eyes open, seeing different rooms and people continues the socialization process. Later, trips in the car, outside in different places all helps; going to fun matches or friends' homes does as well. Depending on circumstances at the time, I do all the above, but not as much as I'd like to do.