GraceGift Whippets
Holistically Healthy Dogs and Cats       Animal Chiropractic       Whippet Home       Site Index

Puppy Rearing Log (All the pups are spoken for.)
Click underlined links for photos/details.
Puppy Rearing Plan. The master plan I am following with this litter.

21 Apr 2003 Puppies born to Kentfield's Atalanta, WRCh, sired by Shoreline Barje DJ Kid.

The pups have a star-studded performance pedigree. Atalanta is a sister of Kentfield's Neoptolemus SRCh SORC, daughter of Ringdove Cassiopeia SRCh ORC Brit Rules RCh, and niece of Ringdove Black Adder SRCh ORC (Fast Eddy). Her sire is Elektra's Achilles ORC CC CM, winner of the 1997 Grand Course.
Proud papa is the young Whiz Kid, son of Shoreline Psycho Jet WRChX (Deion), nephew of Shoreline's Relentless Jet WRChX-6 (Natron), brother of Shoreline Barje's Greek God WRCh (Zeus) and Barj Shrline Teryn Upd Track WRCh (Teryn), and grandson of Lyth Satus ARM SORC-3 FCh, #1 in lifetime ARM points.

  Whelping pen setup and system for identifying puppies.
By day 9 it was clear that Atalanta was feeling overwhelmed by eight vigorous pups. I revised the whelping pen setup so I could split the litter into two groups to lighten the load on her. I bottle fed goat milk (reconstituted dry) to pups that were the slowest to gain weight.

On day 16, yellow male (the smallest) had both front legs over the the front door. I made taller front doors from tile board (slick side to pups) and a platform so Atalanta could enter the crates without having to jump in.

Days 3 through 19 Early neurologic stimulation exercises as described in Dr. Carmen Battaglia's article, Developing High Achievers. These exercises were designed to promote development of confident, resilient, stress-resistant puppies suitable for participation in any dog sport. The exercises require less than 30 seconds per puppy.
Day 6 Videotaped early neurologic stimulation exercises. Individual photos of pups.
First three
weeks
The focus of the first two weeks was to keep the pups warm and fed and to support Atalanta. I trimmed and filed puppy toenails every two or three days beginning on day 6. Puppy personalities started to emerge during the second week. Photos of the early days.

On day 12, I noticed the blue male shivering, breathed a sigh of relief that the pups were starting to regulate their own body temperature, and moved him to the heating pad. Eyes opened on days 12 through 14. I felt like throwing a party to celebrate that we'd made it through the first critical fourteen days with everyone healthy and gaining weight; instead, I put another load of puppy bedding in the washing machine and took a nap.

Puppies sleep in some fascinating positions.

When nursing, the pups were quite rough on Atalanta, whose milk supply was not quite up to the task of feeding eight pups. I started feeding pups from a dish on days 16 and 17, just in case Atalanta decided she'd had enough when puppy teeth start to emerge during the critical developmental period (days 21-28). Fortunately, Atalanta continued to feed the pups. The first meals in a dish were reconstituted dry goat milk.

Still unsteady on their feet, the pups started to play in earnest this week.

Day 18. First meal with solid food added was a smoothie made from goat milk and ground rabbit with bone. It was a hit.

Day 19. Thinking that I might need to recombine the groups during the critical developmental period (21-28 days), I put the front back on the whelping pen in the morning. I left one group of pups in the crate inside the pen and the other group in the second crate outside the pen. Several times daily, I removed the board at the front of the crate to allow the pups to start exploring the pen and I put pups from the second group in the pen so all pups were used to spending time together. By the end of the day, several pups figured out how to climb back in the crate, slightly higher than three inches, after being free in the pen.

Days 21 through 28 This is a critical developmental period. Pups could become emotionally scarred for life if severely stressed (e.g., weaned) during this time. I continued regular handling, including filing front toenails every day and cutting rear nails every two or three days.
3 weeks old Day 21. Yellow male climbed up in the pen crate, and it wasn't even "his" crate (he's from the group in the second crate).

Tunnel imprinting. Red male promptly discovered the "tunnel" between the crate and the pen wall and went exploring. (I think he likes the dark.) He even made the turn in the corner and came out the other side. I thought he had a great idea for imprinting tunnel behavior so I pulled the crate out from the pen walls just enough to make sure no pup would get stuck. There is not enough room for two pups to pass side by side, but a pup can turn around. Red male and green female traversed the entire tunnel. Purple female entered the tunnel, turned around, and come back out. Green male went in the tunnel, decided he was stuck, and called for help.

Bonus: the antifatigue mats don't extend all the way into the corner behind the crate -- bare tarp is exposed and it makes a crinkly noise when a pup walks on it. The pups cross four flooring thresholds to traverse the entire tunnel: towel to mat at entrance, mat to tarp, (turn corner), tarp to mat, mat to towel at exit. I had intended to create a stimulating environment, but I have more "environmental richness" than I planned at this point.

Day 22. The descriptors "small" and "big," used when I first separated pups into two groups, don't really apply any more. According to this morning's weights, three of the smalls are as big as the smallest two bigs and the biggest small is third largest in the litter. They are fairly uniform in size: five are 43 - 44 ounces, two are slightly larger at 46 - 47 oz, and the big red male is 53 oz.

The smalls smaller pups when I divided the litter in two groups woke me up at 3:00 a.m. with their playing. I put them in the pen, where they woke the bigs and proceeded to have a puppy free for all. I stayed up just for the pleasure of watching them.

The pups do not judge distance very well yet. Several have taken off running across the pen only to crash into a wall and sit back in surprise.

In the afternoon, I heard the pups moving around and went to investigate. They'd had a nice, long nap since nearly cleaning the dish around noon. Because half of them were awake, I put the smalls in the pen to do their business. The bigs woke up and some came out into the pen. Ever (green female) stayed in the doorway of the crate for a bit, long enough to tussle with her biggest brother (red male) and send him tumbling out of the crate. Then she lay in the doorway facing out. Purple male approached the crate as if he wanted to climb in. Ever growled at him. He was not deterred ("She's only a bitch") and proceeded to climb in. He got his front feet in, Ever grabbed his ear and flipped him out of the crate where he landed on his back with a surprised look on his face. He did not attempt to enter the crate again just then. (Soft-hearted mom that I am, I was glad that portion of the floor has two layers of antifatigue mat and four layers of folded towels.) Seeing that she had vanquished her foe, Ever left the crate and proceeded to take a victory lap through the tunnel!

Day 23. Journey (purple female) grabbed the edge of a towel first thing in the morning and the pups were playing rough with each other, so I put knotted socks in the pen with all the pups. The pups still played rough with each other, but all the pups were playing with the socks within a couple of days.

Day 24. Pups have been sleeping through evening thunderstorms.

Day 25. Coordination has improved dramatically this week. The pups show no hesitation about climbing in and out of the crate, even carrying socks. It is fascinating to watch them climb in with their front feet and then feel for the edge of the crate with their back feet. Not yet four weeks old and they already know where their rear feet are.

Day 26. I started giving cod liver oil (just a few drops each) once daily because some pups were acting constipated.

Day 27. Blue male climbed out of the 500 crate bottom of the secondary crate. All pups put in the pen.

When I decided to use a 500 crate bottom, I had not considered the positive effect on the pups when they started emerging from the crate into the pen. By four weeks of age, the pups were scrambling in and out of the crate -- 3+ inches off the floor -- and they all knew where their back feet were. It was fascinating to watch them get their front feet in the crate and then feel for the threshold with their back feet.

4 weeks old Puppies begin to learn in the context of working with humans at four weeks of age. For more information on raising pups to be confident, resilient adults, I strongly recommend the book, The Culture Clash, by Jean Donaldson.

Shaping self control. I enjoy living with dogs that are easy to live with. The pups have learned that my attention is associated with positive experiences -- food, opportunities to go outside, etc. Some of the pups have shown a tendency to be vocally demanding. I do not want to live with a loud, demanding adult, so I do not reinforce this behavior in the pups. My goal is to pick up a pup only when he or she is quiet. I make exceptions when it becomes clear that a pup is telling me it needs to go outside to relieve itself, something that two pups started doing on day 30. Starting on day 32, the first pups I picked up to take outside, or to return inside, were those that were sitting quietly. By six weeks of age, this behavior was well established in the pups.

Day 29. First trip outside to the yard. A few pups were slow to emerge from the crate, but once out in the open, all explored readily.

Puppy parties Puppy socialization parties were held at the homes of various friends. I planned the parties to introduce people of various ages to the pups. A van ride of 45 minutes to more than one hour was required to reach each party. The pups had received any vaccines at this point, so homes where only adult, vaccinated dogs reside (no recent rescues or puppies) hosted parties. I asked guests to wear clothes and shoes that had NOT been to a shelter or veterinarian's office and to wash their hands before handling pups.
Almost 5 weeks old

Day 33. Puppy party #1 (Gerling). Pups met two calm adults and experienced their first wooden deck.

Day 34. Puppy party #2 (Sampson). Pups met three new women and two elementary school-age boys.

Day 37. Outside play pen built. I designed the outdoor play area to build confidence, coordination, and agility.

6 weeks old

By six weeks of age, it is clear that all the pups are toy oriented. They are quite comfortable with "movement under foot" -- the pups climb on the pans for two 16" plastic flower pots turned upside down over rectangular two-quart plastic juice bottles. The juice bottles are just big enough that the pans to rock back and forth when the pups climb on them. The pups are at home on a wire grate set at a slope on one cinder block and braced on the ground at the other end with another cinder block. The grate bounces when they jump on it. "King of the cinder block" is a favorite game. Tunnel imprinting that started in the indoor pen continues outside as they run between two plastic crates set to form a narrow alley. The pups are learning to maneuver in tight places as they chase each other about the pen.

Day 41. Puppy party #3 (Kramer). The pups met two new men (one with a beard) and an expectant mother. When they were not being passed around, the pups had a rousing play session outside.

Day 43. Puppy party #4 (Patton). Pups had another play session outside in a big yard, with four new adults.

Day 45. Puppy party #5 (Gotwals). Puppy socialization party #5 was titled "Trial by Kids." There were six from 9 to 13 years of age. The two youngest were loud, boisterous boys -- perfect! All the pups were confident and happy to discover that noisy kids have treats. No hesitation, no slinking around looking for a place to hide, nobody acting stressed. It took about an hour of hard play to wear the pups out, after which we just watched puppies sleep for another hour while the girls alternated holding sleeping puppies.

Day 48. Puppy party #6 (Bryant). The pups had a free-for-all in a matted basement with seven new adults and two new elementary school-age children. After a break for lunch and puppy nap time, each pup's chase instinct was evaluated. (I tied a white plastic bag tied on the end of a lunge whip and dragged it past each pup).

Pups waiting for their turn waited calmly in an ex-pen in one corner of the matted area. Continuing their early self-control training, I waited until each pup sat for the opportunity to come out and chase the lure. The waiting pups were interested in the proceedings, but did not wear themselves out with excitement. This calmness while waiting did not appear to mute their enthusiasm for chasing the lure.

It has been wonderful to see confidence and resilience build in the pups as they have progressed from one party to the next this week. I can understand why more breeders do not take the time to get their pups out when they are young. From loading the van to start the trip to unloading when we arrive back home, puppy parties have taken 4 to 6 hours each. Organizing and attending six parties in two weeks has involved a considerable commitment. However, the prime time period for building resilience, from 4 to 12 weeks of age, cannot be duplicated. Seeing these pups blossom, I cannot imagine NOT taking advantage of that window of opportunity to build emotional stability.

Puppy aptitude testing
7 weeks old
An experienced dog trainer evaluated basic temperament traits and aptitude for obedience training and lure sports. Test results are available via email to approved prospective owners.

For more information about puppy aptitude testing, see the booklet Understanding Puppy Testing , by Suzanne Clothier and Temperament Testing for Dogs in Shelters by Sue Sternberg.

Stacked Photos
8 weeks old
Males
Females
14 June. "Green" male left for his new home, just over an hour away. He will look forward to participating in amateur racing and freestyle.
22 June. "Red" female left for her new home in Savannah, GA where she will enjoy an agility career.
9 weeks old
23 June. Blood drawn for Cornell's vWF:Ag test. von Willebrand disease is an inherited blood clotting disorder. This test measures the amount of von Willebrand factor (important in forming blood clots) produced and will identify any pups at risk of suffering from a clinical bleeding problem. All pups tested well into the normal range. For more information on testing, see this article.

23 June. Pups vaccinated with Progard Puppy - DPv by Intervet. This is a modified-live vaccine for canine distemper and canine parvo virus. I vaccinated for only these two viruses because they are the only two life-threatening viruses that are still commonly found in the environment. In my opinion, they are the two viruses it is most important to protect young puppies from.

29 June. "Purple" male left for his new home in Tennessee. He will be a running buddy for a marathoner when he is grown.

29 June. Recall training at "green" male's new home.

10 weeks old The pups still with me were separated from each other and will be kept separate until at least 16 weeks of age. This is to prevent formation of a firm dominance hierarchy, two consequences of which are that pups on the bottom of the hierarchy might not challenge other dogs for the lead in a race and might quit running when they are bumped. Also, pups on the top of the hierarchy are practicing "fouling" behavior when they bite at the necks of subordinate pups, a behavior that I don't want to become an established habit in pups I plan to train for racing. Because they have been kept as a pack to this point, all the pups have good dog social skills and I don't expect any problems integrating them back together or into the larger pack with the adults after this period of separation.

30 June. Oxford City Park.
1 July. Whole Food Grocery, sidewalk cafe.
3 July. PetSmart, Durham.
4 July. Trip to visit a friend the pups had not yet met.
6 July. Petsmart, Durham with new dog friends handling pups.

11 weeks old 7 July. Oxford City Park. Trial by kids #2.
12 July. PetSmart, Raleigh with new dog friends handling pups.
13 July. Family visited to meet the pups. Trial by kids #3. Recall training at "green" male's new home.
12 weeks old 15 July. Petsmart, Cary with a third set of new dog friends handling pups.
16 July. Pups to Kid's Camp, a day camp hosted by an area boarding kennel to teach school-age children about responsible dog ownership. Trial by kids #4.
13 weeks old 21 July. Pups vaccinated with Progard DHPP by Intervet. This is a modified-live vaccine for protection from the following viruses: canine distemper, hepatitis, parvo, and parainfluenza and adenovirus (two viral causes of kennel cough).

25 July. "Yellow" male left for his new home in Hillsborough, NC. He'll be close enough for me to see regularly for racing training.

26 July. Puppy socialization at a county park in Alamance county. The pups met three golden retriever pups, one standard schnauzer pup, a whippet cousin from CA, and new people. "Yellow" and "green" males came with their new owners; six of the eight pups were present.

I became aware of a glaring omission in the puppy rearing program. I had been so pleased to have the long days of summer to socialize the pups that I neglected to plan some after-dark excursions to meet friends to walk in lighted neighborhoods with alternating shadows and light areas.

16 weeks old 11 Aug. "Blue" male left for his new home in Richmond, VA. Only the "keepers" remain: Paddler ("red" male), Ever ("green" female), and Journey ("purple" female).
~5 months old 14 Sept. First exposure to a running lure.

27 Sept. SouthEastern Sighthound Racing Association (SESRA) first lure training session and organizational meeting.

6 months old

Keeping the pups separated from each other allowed the more yielding pups to come into their own. I tried to put my pups back together after the last pup to be placed left. However, they were too intense about trying to establish a dominance hierarchy; their play had a distinct edge. When I put them together at about 5.5 months of age, they played hard, but without the edge I had seen before. Because Paddler is considerably larger than the petite females, I integrated him with the adults rather than letting him stay with his sisters. Also, with three pups together, one of the bitches tended to bow out of play with the others, not a behavior I wanted to become firmly established. Paddler is socially submissive to all the adults. Journey and Ever grovel around the adults, and are quite inhibited around their dam; they have their own yard for the present.

Lessons Learned The critical importance of early handling cannot be stressed enough. I will do the Developing High Achievers exercises again, but I won't stop there. I will again file nails with an emery board every day. The three pups who would accept the bottle (Atalanta didn't have quite enough milk) were more resilient early on and not as stressed on days when pups were handled more than usual. Hopefully I won't have to supplemental feed the next litter, but I will replace that handling with other gentle handling.

The six puppy parties between 5 and 7 weeks of age and other activities prior to 12 weeks of age were absolutely vital to development of the emotional resilience and confidence these pups exhibit as adults. Only one pup showed the innate confidence I like to see from the first outing outside at four weeks of age, but all have developed into adults who enjoy going to new places and participating in performance sports.

Road trips should last at least 20 minutes, or at least five minutes after the last whining puppy gets quiet.

Start public outings earlier (than 10 weeks). Visit the flea market and other noisy places earlier (for socialization purposes only, not looking for prospective homes).

Prior to 12 weeks of age, conduct some outings after dark, on lighted sidewalks that have shadows and glass store front windows with reflections.

Play with my own pups with a plastic bag tied to a lunge whip three or four times weekly until formal lure training starts.

Happy Second Birthday

April 2005
At 2 years of age, this litter and their owners have exceeded all my hopes. All the owners have commented, without prompting, on how intelligent these pups are -- how quickly they learn new behaviors. My goal was to raise pups that could go anywhere and do anything, and I'm delighted to say that goal has been reached.
Pepsi and Philippides have agility titles.
Friedrich is a racing champion on the amateur straight track, an achievement only the top ~15% of racers are capable of.
Paddler (with me) has racing championship points on the amateur straight track, started training in Rally this spring, and will start training for agility tunnels class later this year.
Journey (with me) has started her amateur racing career, started Rally training this spring, and will start agility training later this year.
Ever joined Philippides last August, where she is enjoying agility training.
Sky is in training for freestyle competition and for NADAC tunnels class.
Gabriel is enjoying obedience and agility training and has entered one race meet.


  top of page

Updated 21 April 2005
Copyright 2001 - 2005 Adele C. Monroe
All rights reserved