We carefully choose our breeding females and studs from proven lines of dogs with no genetic health issues. We only choose breeders who have dogs that have succeeded in service dog programs and have excellent temperaments. Our parent dogs are tested at 2 years old and certified by the OFA for hips and elbows. We also screen our dogs for PRA (progressive retinal atrophy) which can lead to blindness.
The health of our parent dogs is so important to us, regular exercise is easy on our 7 acre farm. Poodles, doodles and retrievers are such personable dogs it is vital to their mental health to have plenty of human interaction! Our dogs enjoy a large outdoor kennel, they help us around the farm on a daily basis, feeding sheep and going on adventures with all their little humans. They are treasured family pets, which is very important for their mental health and stability helping to make them excellent even tempered moms. They stay up to date on regular shots, deworming a health checks. At 4 weeks we confirm pregnancy by ultrasound. We feed them Diamond Brand Naturals large breed dog food. When our pregnant moms are about 4 1/2 weeks pregnant we begin feeding them a higher calorie puppy food, the same we use for the puppies to come (Diamond Brand Naturals large breed Puppy food). We also give our pregnant girls farm fresh boiled eggs as the time of whelping approaches.
Starting at 57 days of pregnancy we begin taking our females rectal temperature. Once her temp drops below 99 degrees we know birth will begin within the next 24 hours! At this time, we have everything prepared for birth. Camera, ribbons to keep track of which baby is which, weight scale and many other medical supplies in case assistance is needed. Our mama dogs have always needed us close by when they are giving birth, they are constantly nudging their sweet heads at us to be pet as the labor starts. It is such a sweet and exciting process! The moms naturally go right to work cleaning off baby and chewing off the umbilical cord. We then take the new baby, quickly weigh him or her, check the sex and place its color coordinated ribbon on as a collar. This helps us keep track of each baby to be sure they are all thriving and gaining the proper weight in the first few weeks. Then baby is laid next to mom where he/she begins drinking that first shot of colostrum. Our moms are never bothered by anyone handling her babies, they are used to lots of people and are very trusting dogs. This is a great thing for beginning socializing puppies with people. The puppies are born in a whelping box inside our home. They are moved to their own birthing suite shortly after in their wooden whelping box.
We make sure to hold every puppy from day one, which isnt hard, they are pretty irresistable! At 3 days old we begin 'Early Neurological Stimulation' exercises. A program developed by the U.S. military to give dogs a superior advantage. These bio sensor exercises expose puppies from an early age to minor stressors in a gentle and loving environment. Research has shown that this early exposure helps the dog throughout life to handle new situations and stress with less fear. This is not a proven theory but we are striving to produce the very best dogs so based on our research we do this daily with each puppy from 3 days old to 16 days old. We also track puppies weight on a daily basis for the first 16 days to be sure each one is thriving.
Puppy is growing and developing fast now! Eyes and ears are opened and they are learning to walk and explore their little world! This is such a fun time watching them take it all in. We start introducing them outside to feel different surfaces under their feet. We are just weighing on a weekly basis unless a need arises. They have started their dewormer and just before 4 weeks we start pureeing high quality puppy food with warm formula.
Puppies move out to an indoor 10'x10' kennel with an outside play area where they can come and go during the day. This is where they begin learning to keep their 'den' clean. We use fresh cedar chips for the inside and puppies start learning to potty outside. Mom visits puppies for feedings throughout the day but she starts weaning at this time. Puppies move from pureed food, to soaked food, to dry food as their teeth come in. At night they all come back in and share a crate or two depending on the size of the litter. This begins their crate training as well. We start slowly putting all the puppies together to sleep in the crates, this makes them feel safe and comfortable. They are kept right by the door to run potty breaks in the night and first thing in the morning! We do our best to set the foundation for easy potty and crate training in their new homes! Socialization takes off during puppies 4th week. They begin meeting all the farm animals, sheep, chickens, cats and big dogs. They do so much exploring and meet people of all ages. We are very cautious at this time because they havent had their vaccinations yet, they are only exposed to fully vaccinated animals on our family farm and people we know personally. This is such a fun age!
Puppies first vaccinations are done at 6 weeks old. We do our puppy picks at 6 -7 weeks, this is when we can set up appointments to see the pups and have our puppy aptitude tests complete. Most of our families have already fallen in love with a puppy or two before this time by the pictures, videos and descriptions. Socialization takes another step forward with individual outings to pet friendly shops. This early socialization is so important for the rest of your dogs life. There is a small window of development from 4 weeks old to 4 months old where he/she is eager to learn and much less fearful. If puppies are introduced to a wide variety of sights, sounds, smells and places they will be more willing and less stressed for the rest of their lives. This helps create a fearless and friendly go with the flow companion. I highly recommend getting puppy enrolled into a basic obedience class right away and taking him/her with you wherever you can.
Of course it is very important for puppies health to keep all areas clean! Puppies can get very dirty very fast so its a great time to introduce baths in a calm manner so that they are ready for grooming when they go to their new homes! We trim nails, shampoo, towel dry and even use the blow dryer, love that fresh clean puppy smell! Puppies health is always monitored closely, their weight and development by myself and our veterinarian.
Puppy will be shy for the first couple of days.
Potty training will be the most important thing for the first couple of weeks. The less they have accidents right at first, the quicker the potty training will happen.
It will be important to get a crate that can be adjusted as puppy, they will feel secure and at home with the crate. Puppy will have a blanket that smells like home to snuggle.