The new puppies are ten days old now
All the books tell us that their eyes should be open, but we (almost always) find they open when the puppies are 14 days old. Perhaps we only ever breed late developers. I’d suggest that they hear the hooligans in the yard and feel they’d rather not look, but puppies ears don’t open until later (about days 17 to 18).
In the meantime the litter will continue to experience everything through touch and smell. They use smell to find the dam, and each other, and they know if they’re warm or cold. We’ve found that, other than in the hottest weather, it pays to use a heat lamp for new puppies.
The lamp goes on once the expectant mum is in labour, and stays on until the puppies are able to walk around (or if they start to lie away from the lamp – suggesting they’re too hot).
Females in labour can sometimes overlook a newly delivered puppy in their anxiety to deal with the next, but the lamp ensures that a puppy dries and stays warm until the mother is able to relax and take stock of her new situation.
We always make sure the mother can get away from her puppies whenever she feels she needs a change (we find that she spends more quality time with the puppies as a result) so if she takes herself off for a browse around the garden, or just to lie in the sun, the puppies move into the warm patch and are quiet and contented until Mum gets back.
There seems to be an emphasis on “quiet”. It’s not that we think only quiet babies are good babies, but quiet puppies are warm, well fed and unstressed. Sickly, hungry or cold puppies make the most pitiful mewling noise that demands your attention and is designed to make you feel anxious.
By this time next week the first puppy teeth will be appearing, and they’ll be trying to stand and wobble around. We use a thin carpet material underneath the puppies, so they shouldn’t have a problem with grip. Slippery surfaces make it very difficult for puppies to learn to walk.
Next Monday they’ll have their first experience of worming. At two weeks, it’s easy. By four weeks it’s a very messy business indeed!
The other dogs are still being excluded from the puppy bedroom, just in case some over-enthusiastic adolescent accidentally steps on someone, but Oscar did manage to sneak a look the other day. He was absolutely horrified at what he saw, and almost fell out, backwards, in his rush to get away. I’ve never seen an older puppy react like that; I guess Oscar’s just not baby-sitter material.
Now Max reckons he’d make a great baby-sitter. Hmm…we’ll see, but he’s been fascinated by the new family next door, and spends much of his time pressed up against the mesh, just keeping an eye on things.
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