Puppy Progress Week 8 - Getting Social

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Saturday 25 March 2017

Puppy Progress Week 8 - Getting Social

8 weeks old and another busy week in puppy land full of new experiences. The main change has really been how social the pups have been getting (if they carry on like this I can see them being on Facebook fairly soon). Anyway, without further ado, I'll try for a quick recap of what they've been up to this week and how it feels to be the 'parents' of a puppy pack right now.

Adopting Leela has inspired a collection of dog-themed poems and illustrations:
Love, Fluff and Chasing Butterflies - 50% of profits are donated to the Dog's Trust 

I'll start in the house where, after Esther's excellent work starting to train the puppies to 'sit' and wait on command, our main focus this week has been to start with toilet training the puppies. On the whole this seems to basically come down to a game of numbers, trying to minimise the number of 'accidents' inside and maximise the number of successes by going onside. I mean, they have been using the puppy pads pretty much exclusively for weeks now rather than any old patch of floor, but stepping up to the next level has been a big change for them. Puppy training books talk about trying to preempt a puppies need to pee by getting them outside to their designated spot at key times; on waking, after meals, halfway through the night etc. The theory is that as their bladder control naturally improves they'll be able to wait longer and longer between visits until they have 'learned' where to go.

Our complicating factor, of course, is in having 6 puppies at the moment. Trying to ferry all of them out of the house, check they've all 'been' and then bring them inside without too much fuss or the experience turning into a play session is tricky. We've just gotten more used to standing around outside the house at 6.30 in the morning and certainly on the whole there are far less 'accidents' now.

On a related note toilet training has also provided a real test for us humans in learning to balance what puppy training guides say vs. the reality of having so many puppies at once. On many occasions we found ourselves at odds with each other and putting pressure on ourselves to try and do "what the book says" when in reality it's a practical impossibility. It's helping us to learn to only do the best we can and not beat ourselves up so much.

The rest of the time the new experiences have really stacked up. As I mentioned in my previous post, we made the decision not to keep the puppies completely insulated from the outside world until they have had all of their vaccinations. What we have been doing instead is carrying or driving them to new places to meet new people and environments. Sometimes this has meant lots of back and forth trips with different puppies in our arms, which can be quite a workout, but it's worth it to get them exposed to lots of people and places at this age.

We are incredibly grateful to many friends and neighbours here in San Jose who have also been helping with trips out and play visits to their house. It has helped us a lot.

So what are some of the things the puppies been up to? In no particular order they have.....
  • watched us do an indoor circuit session!?!
  • visited a shop
  • visited a cafe
  • met other (vaccinated) dogs in the house and out and about as well, ranging from younger excited pups to older, calmer dogs.
  • seen cats
  • stayed with neighbours in ones, twos and as a pack
  • had more drives in the van
  • walked outside on a dirt track off the lead, following us closely
  • discovered digging
  • attended the San Jose pirate festival where they saw people in costumes, policeman and got fussed by many people.
  • met children 
Leela, for her part, seems to be really developing into her role as senior, mum dog. The pups have still had the occasional suckle but 99% of their nutrition is solids. In fact, most of the time now she can approach the puppies without them even trying to get under her teats. Mostly she plays with and teaches them in other ways. Teddy in particular seems to have a great bond with Leela - they can spend ages rolling around play fighting which sounds like they are killing each other, but on closer inspection is really very gentle.

Personally, for me, it feels like we have reached a milestone as week 8 comes to a close. It's hard to put my finger on why, perhaps because traditionally this is still the age when many puppies would go to new homes? Even though we have known from day one these puppies would need to stay with us a while longer, and that there is no distinct 'best age' to leave the litter (many breeders and research now suggest 10-12 weeks is a better age), 8 weeks has still felt like a threshold to me. There is certainly no denying that the puppies are real mini-dogs now. Healthy, robust, noisy and playful mini-dogs.

Adopting Leela has inspired a collection of dog-themed poems and illustrations:
Love, Fluff and Chasing Butterflies - 50% of profits are donated to the Dog's Trust 

1 comment

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