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Puppy Rearing Plan
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First two weeks The focus of the first two weeks was to keep the pups warm and fed. Puppies cannot regulate their own body temperature until about 14 days of age. Puppies that become chilled may die.
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.
Days 21 through 28 This is a critical developmental period. Pups could become emotionally scarred for life if severely stressed during this time. For example, pups should not be weaned during this week. If they must be weaned early, they should be weaned before 21 days of age.
4 weeks old Puppies begin to learn at four weeks of age. Four to twelve weeks of age (16 weeks in some pups) is a critical developmental period during which confidence and emotional resilience are developed. If confidence is not established during this time, the result may be an adult that is "sensitive" or easily stressed, or that acts hesitant or fearful in some situations.

For more information on raising pups to be confident, resilient adults, I strongly recommend the book, The Culture Clash, by Jean Donaldson.

BUILDING CONFIDENT PUPS

The following activities will be introduced one at a time at four to five weeks of age and repeated daily or several times weekly until the pups go to their new homes. Please recognize that there are many paths to the top of the mountain and that other activities may be equally successful in building confident, resilient adults. The key is to provide a wide variety of experiences, especially between four and twelve weeks of age.

Physical and mental agility
A great deal of nervous system development occurs during early puppyhood. Providing a rich sensory environment with opportunities to develop excellent coordination between the nervous system and muscles lays the foundation for dog sports including amateur racing, agility, and obedience. Frequent excursions outdoors will present opportunities for the pups to learn the concepts "over," "under," "around," and "through."
Footing variations
The pups will be introduced to different types of footing: wire grate, various door mats, plastic sheeting, etc.

The play pen will be set up so that pups learn to accept movement under foot. This lesson is very important for competitive agility dogs that will be trained to go over a teeter-totter.

Imprinting on the lure
To establish a foundation for amateur racing, the pups will learn that that homemade fake fur tug toys and plastic bags are the most fun in the world. The game will be stopped while pups are still interested.
Puppy parties
I will take the pups to puppy socialization parties at the homes of various friends. Each party will have people of various ages handling the puppies. A van ride of 45 minutes to more than one hour will be required to reach each party. The pups will not have received any vaccines at this point, so homes where only adult, vaccinated dogs reside (no recent rescues or puppies) will host parties. People will be asked to wear clothes and shoes that have NOT been to a shelter or veterinarian's office and to wash their hands before handling pups.
Puppy aptitude testing
7 weeks old
An experienced dog trainer will evaluate basic temperament and aptitude for lure sports. The item used in the chase instinct test was different from the tug toys used for lure imprinting. For more information about puppy aptitude testing, see the booklet Understanding Puppy Testing, by Suzanne Clothier.
Puppy outings
After the pups receive the first vaccine for canine parvovirus and distemper virus, I will take the pups out in public. I will arrange outings where friends who are experienced dog people meet me and the pups at various locations including pet stores, public parks, and other locations where dogs are welcome.

When I arrange to meet friends, I will give a pup and a bag of treats to each person with instructions to explore the surroundings and meet people (and dogs) for about 45 minutes to an hour. The purpose is to let the pups learn that it's okay for someone different to be on the other end of the leash, everyone they meet is a long lost best friend (with goodies), and that the world away from home is a wonderful place. I will have experienced dog people take the pups around on these outings to reduce the risk of an unpleasant misadventure.

Conformation evaluation
8 weeks old
Conformation evaluation using the approach described in Pat Hastings' book, Tricks of the Trade, and video, The Puppy Puzzle.

 

Updated 24 July 2003
Copyright 2001 - 2003 Adele C. Monroe
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