Day 21-3 Weeks Old; The Learning Curve Gets Steep!

Friday was a BIG day for all of the puppies-they had a lot of new activities to experience like their FIRST meal, first bath, officially beginning potty training, time for them to wear T-shirt’s/onesies to help desensitize them for wearing capes, and some enrichment games to continue to build their brains! It was a busy day as I was trying to give the puppies all of these “firsts” but also knew my day was filled with other “life” events that were more important than a puppy being potty trained.(It’s hard to imagine, but it’s true!)  Life continues on even when we have puppies in our home as much as we want to just sit and play with them all day!!

Yesterday’s event was that I had the pleasure of attending my daughters PH.D. graduation.  She received her doctorate in Animal Science with a focus on Nutrition(Equine).  She has spent her entire life exploring through science and has completed countless research projects, had her research published and is in a completely different place as she was before she began her college career in the science field.  What she was convinced of 8 years ago is completely different than what she knows now through her education and research.  I believe this is exactly what life is like! You think you have the answers to most everything, but when you look back you realize that what you know is not as important as what you chose to DISCOVER over the course of time, what you learned through listening to the experiences of others, and through what you’ve tried in your quest to make something better.  I’ve learned that through research, scientists have to keep an open mind because often the truth that is revealed is much different than their initial theory of the problem. And the opportunities to discover new and better ideas is HUGE with puppies!  Every litter that has been in my home has been completely different in one way or another, and I have learned incredible new things from each one that has actually taught me lessons that I apply in my everyday life. I have learned to interact with people in a different way, I seek to look for better ways, more efficient processes and to enjoy the moment.

Every litter is different, but the biggest challenge for me as a whelping home is to learn from past litters in order to make this litter more successful!  I don’t rest on the excuse that “every litter is different’, but instead my time with these puppies becomes one HUGE science experiment.  One of the biggest mistakes I believe people make in life is that they get comfortable in what they know so they never continue to ask the big question of “why”? They don’t choose to learn from what’s in front of them, from the insight of others, or from what others have discovered through the value of research.  Something may have worked in the past, but WHY did it work and WHAT could work better are important questions as well!

One example of this is in the picture below.  I did some research and studies show that if you put out more bowls than the number of puppies you can reduce the future incidence rate of resource guarding that dogs display.  Since resource guarding is one of the things that can career change a pup in training, I figured I would try this method.  Does it mean that none of these puppies will resource guard in their futures? No. They have many other life experiences along the way that can develop or inhibit this behavior.  I’m just one tiny piece of the puzzle, and every piece and experience along the way continues to develop their personality. Does it mean that this is the ONLY thing that will help them with this? No. But…..and here is the important part of this; there is NO evidence that I could find showing that having more bowls of food than puppies EVER will harm the puppy or detrimentally inhibit the puppy in any growth areas, so with only positive opportunity and no negative ramifications why WOULDN”T  I do this? Research is so extensive, and for most studies you can find opposing viewpoints.  But there are some studies where there is only an upside to the research and it seems obvious to add it to my daily routine.  Rather than bore you with the actual research studies, I have provided a link that discusses much of the same thinking about providing extra food bowls.

Link: Preventing food aggression in puppies begins when they are young

Here is also an excerpt and a link on how to work with food/resource guarding with a series of training exercises to use with the dog if they already show some of the signs:

An Ounce of Prevention

Young puppies are prone to guarding behavior because they often have to compete with their littermates for limited amounts of food. Breeders often feed puppies from one large communal pan, and the puppy who manages to eat the most will grow the quickest and become the strongest. If a breeder is not observant, this situation can deteriorate into one or two puppies monopolizing most of the food. A history of being rewarded for aggressive behavior can become firmly established in these puppies.

ASPCA training a dog with food guarding issues

Watching the daily interactions of the puppies can teach you so much!!!  You learn all about the intricate behaviors of each puppy and you start to feel like you have an insight into their future and what problems and successes they might experience along the way!  I’ve always said one of my dream jobs is to track a litter of puppies from birth throughout life and to track all of the things they’ve experienced along the way, looking at insights from the whelping home and beyond and seeing how accurate those thoughts are in the adult life of the dog.

And this is a brief look into my life as a whelping home!  I love research, and I love to improve upon processes so that I can feel like this litter has even more benefits than the previous one in my home. I never think I have THE answer and there’s no other way.  I take each experience and determine if I can positively build upon it to improve the outcome.   It’s a bit of a personality flaw, but I actually enjoy the intense nature of my mind, so it’s all good!

This is what I love about science and research.  There is an unbelievable amount of research that is at our fingertips!  We get to choose if that interests us to look it up and discover something new that might possibly improve some problem that we want to avoid.

It’s not all fun and games! Sometimes the puppies walk through “areas” that make them very dirty and stinky, and they need to get cleaned up!!! Bathtime for the litter happened before 7am!!!! I was a bit surprised at how much they loved it!!!

As I was listening to the keynote speaker at the graduation (he was the one who studied and invented Baked Lays and is an incredible entrepreneur), I’m sure the majority of people were thinking of how the speech applied to some aspect of their personal lives.  I was also doing this, but what I realized is that frequently my thoughts drifted back to the 7 little puppies in my care and I was surprised at how much of the speech applied to my time with them as well!

So, I figured I would share the key points of the keynote speaker that he gathered from some of his students which I feel are a fabulous way to start a new day! Although these aren’t puppy related, they are wonderful to consider!

  • The best four-letter word is FACTS;
  • Make sure your curiosity and interests change as a function of time;
  • Look for an opportunity you can grab; that can be anything from how to think, live or act smarter, or to help someone else;
  • Learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable, but don’t just accept it without exploring your options. It’s not a destination, but rather a point in time;
  • Learn to listen to ideas you disagree with-in the end you are the one who gets to decide how you want to live, but hear what others have to say about topics that affect you and keep an open mind;
  • Use logic and facts to do the analysis, but use the situation in front of you to draw the insights
  • Look to solve any problem by looking at nature;
  • Never settle; always problem-solve and innovate. This is what has developed our world and allowed us to realize things that were never thought possible;
  • Dare to be different;
  • Change is always predictable;
  • Not taking a big risk is still a big risk;
  • Focus on the problem you want to solve, not the job you have in front of you;
  • Facts are the key in decision making;
  • Quit thinking outside of the box, just create a new box;
  • Always value the lessons and messages of others, even if you don’t share the same views;
  • Keep re-learning how to be curious;
  • Develop a clear set of guiding values and remember those values you pick are a skill that needs to be mastered

What a busy day!!!!

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