48 hours under our belt with real puppy food and WOW, it’s been a mess! It required an 11pm, 4am and 8am box changing to keep the puppies in a clean environment.
But the story of today is their activity level increasing drastically. They are awake more, and when they are awake they are drumming up a play date with one of their siblings!
After saying yesterday was a typical day in the box without much of a change, today made up for it!
Yesterday I started putting down potty pads to get them used to the idea of having a set “area”. While yesterday was hit or miss, today I noticed a definite change in their behaviors and I saw them actually getting up from a nap, going over to use the pad and then going back and laying down! Not every one of them is that intentional, but I’m seeing a definite increase which I think is absolutely amazing considering they are only 3 weeks old! I’m not an expert in dogs, but I personally would find it hard to believe that 5 out of 7 puppies went over to the pads on more than one occasion and it was nothing more than luck.
They are actively playing with the puppy play gym that I made for the first litter as well. They are figuring out how to grab the ropes, how to get inside of it, and how to get back out. It’s like I’m watching their brains develop in front of me!
The really fun part is that they are actively seeking me out on a regular basis. They are starting to try to climb in my lap for a nap or snuggle, they are starting to “pounce” on me in a playful manner and they are staying awake for much longer periods during the day. When I put them in the pen at night for bedtime, they now are coming to the door and looking up at me with those unbelievably adorable puppy dog eyes. I have to quickly turn out the light before I succumb and take them all out of the box and play with them for “just a little bit more”. I have to work hard at reminding myself that what I let them do now could have an effect on what they are like once they get older-that I have to be the one who sets the parameters and insures they follow it so that they can be confident, well adjusted service dogs in training. But let me tell you, that is not easy when I look at them!
Today, Red seemed to be the most animated and he is the first one that has learned a lopsided “gallop” across the play area. I burst out laughing the first time because he couldn’t stop his movement and went right into the side wall of the whelping pen! He looked stunned for a moment before he turned and galloped off to run into one of his siblings, which I’m sure was a much softer landing 🙂
Sugar has decided that TODAY is the day that the puppies are ready for her to start playing with them and for her to start teaching them some rules. She waits for them to walk over her head, (which they all seem to do and I’m not sure why) and now she starts to very lightly nibble on their legs and neck-partly I think a sign of affection and the other part the beginning of dog socialization for appropriate behaviors. This is why it is so critical for puppies to stay with their moms during those critical weeks. Research has shown that puppies taken away from their moms before they’ve had a chance to be trained in litter mate and dog behavior are typically not as well adjusted and have more behavior issues.
Something I heard someone say about dogs in your care; They’re singing your praises by their behavior and contentment. So, today I enjoy spending time with them, wondering what their futures hold and how proud I will be as they grow into fabulous assistance dogs in training knowing that I played a tiny role in their journey of greatness!