A recent study in Applied Animal Behaviour Science found that pups raised in the home were more confident and less likely to exhibit fear-related aggression than pups raised in kennels. No surprise there to any of us, given all we know about the importance of social interaction and a varied environment in the healthy development of canine cognition, physiology and behavior. Indeed, a study done in 2013, led by McMillan and co-authored by Serpell and Duffy, found that pet store puppies have more behavioral problems than those raised by private breeds, as did a 2011 study on puppies from commercial breeding facilities. (FYI, see Frank McMillan’s new edition of his book, Mental Health and Well-Being in Animals, a truly excellent and important work.)
Zazie Todd, PhD, who wrote about this latest study in her kick ass blog, Companion Animal Psychology, concluded: “So if you are getting a puppy from a breeder, it’s a good idea to check that the puppy is being raised in the house, and not outside in a garage or barn.”
I know exactly where she is coming from, except . . . I don’t think where is the heart of the issue. I say that, full disclosure, as someone who many years ago raised a few litters of Border Collie puppies first in the house (one to 21 days) and then the barn (22 days until they left for new homes.) Once the pups were moved to the barn, in a converted milk house, they got both hours of social interaction from me, friends and my other dogs, and a profoundly varied environment in which to discover the world.
At least five times a day a pile of puppies tumbled out of the door and went exploring with me, their mom and the other dogs of the farm (Border Collies and Bo Peep, my first Great Pyrenees). They walked through short grass and high grass, dry grass and wet, cold grass. They stumbled over sticks and small logs, some charging forward with abandon, while others fussed and whined behind the obstacle while their litter mates moved ahead. They met butterflies and ant hills and smelled sheep poop and the tracks of foxes and chipmunks and squirrels. They heard bird song, traffic, dogs barking, people laughing, and music. I could go on, but you get the idea.
I thought of this while watching Jane Killion’s wonderful video, Puppy Culture. In it she explains the importance of social interaction, mild levels of stress and a varied sensory environment during the first twelve weeks of a puppy’s life. As I wrote in my review of the DVD (now also available for streaming), you gotta love a women who names one of her bull terrier puppies “Betty Pork and Beans”. As I watched the video, I thought back to watching my puppies struggle through grass over their heads, listening to gun shots from neighbors, and dancing after butterflies. No need for me to have created an elaborate system in my rec room for the puppies to experience mild stress, sensory variety and social interaction.
And so I want to add my voice to the work being done that emphasizes the importance of the environment during early development, and clarify what I think is important–not where, but how.
Speaking of how, I wish there was more research on the effect of litter size on early development. I’m thinking of it now because good friends just helped Kip, a lovely Basenji, whelp a singleton puppy. They were well aware of the concerns about singleton puppies, who miss out on so much of the normal stimulation provided by squirming, squealing litter mates. Years ago my own dog, Pippy Tay, had her own singleton pup, and I was worried sick he’d grow up to have the behavioral problems it seemed I had seen in singletons.
I used puppy-sized stuffed animals to surround and push against him during the day, and gently forced him off the nipple every other feeding time so that he’d encounter mild stress and frustration. (The most common concerns about singleton puppies are frustration intolerance, touch hyper-sensitivity and difficulties with other dogs.) I counter conditioned him to surprise touches with chicken because he began growling around five weeks of age when touched. The growling disappeared after three weeks of conditioning and he went on to be a sweet, lovely and friendly pet puppy for a single woman who loved him liked life itself. She reported that he wasn’t always great at meeting new dogs (even though he’d been around 5 other dogs here), but he was a wonderful, happy dog, and she adored him.
But what do we really know about singleton puppies and behavior? Where’s the research? I could find none, although there are some good articles about singletons based on personal experience. Here’s a good one from Susan Garrett, with important points about feeding restrictions, frustration and touch tolerance. Although we have no research on the topic (that I know of–anyone?), it seems to me that the number of litter mates could/would have a profound effect on a dog’s eventual behavior. And not just a singleton versus “more”. What about a litter of two puppies? How is that different from 12? Surely 11 littermates creates a substantially different environment and set of stressors than only one or two. Given the lack of research (PhD anyone?), all we have now are anecdotes based on our own experiences. I’d love to hear yours, I’m all ears.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: The market lambs “went to market today”. (Actually the deed was done here at the farm; which avoids the stress on the lambs of being driven in a truck to somewhere unfamiliar.) It’s an especially bittersweet time because we aren’t planning on any more lambs. We have saved three lovely ewe lambs however, all of which are going to need names. They are all white hair sheep of a similar size, so keeping track of who’s who is going to be tricky. Already we have Spot and Taylor Swift who look a lot alike and can only be distinguished by a black spot on Spot’s knee–not very easy to see most of the time.
Here are the new girls. Pretty adorable, hey? The two on the right are the lambs of Taylor Swift, the one on the left is from Snow White. Any and all ideas for new names are welcome. (I didn’t come up with the names for Meryl Sheep OR Lady Baa Baa. This might be the best feature of social media ever.)
That’s Taylor Swift and one of her lambs on the right. Brown and white Lady Baa Baa is in the middle. She’s become quite the porker. Beyonce is on the left, a daughter of Lady Godiva and without question the ewe I think is the most beautiful.
Maggie is bringing the sheep down from the “moors” to the barn. That’s Lady Godiva in front. She’s doing very well after her medications for pneumonia, but writing this reminded me she needs her second shot today. Just another reason to be grateful for this blog!
Diane Mattson says
Definitely agree how over where. Developing brains flourish with a large variety of experiences and just saying home reared is best misses the main point.
My friend’s dog, Shadow, had puppies. Shadow does the minimum. Feed, clean and escape the unasked for nuisances seems to be her philosophy. My friend does lots of socializing with the pups, and takes them out and about the farm. They seem a delightful bunch, but my friend is concerned that they are missing out on lessons from Mom. Any suggestions?
My suggestion for your trio lacks puns, and is going back in time, but how about the Andrews sisters: Patty, Maxene and Laverne.
As always, I have been enjoying your blog. Thank you.
It’s interesting to read about the optimal environment for raising a puppy, and about how many critical factors there are…but what continues to amaze me is how resilient dogs can be. My husband and I have had 4 dogs: Dog 1, Fletcher, a maybe greyhound mix, was a “practice dog” for vet student friends. He probably went from the pound to the vet kennel before coming to us. He was sweet, friendly and gentle. Dog 2 was Keira, a staghound bred and raised for coyote hunting and then dropped at the pound as a young adult when her complete lack of prey drive became evident. She was mellow, bombproof, sweet, and good with dogs and people alike. She had zero fears or issues (until she developed thunder phobia as she aged), and was truly a perfect dog. Dogs 3 and 4 (current) are also failed coyote hunters, 3-year-old staghound littermates that were given up by their hunter owner at almost 3, and were severely underweight when the greyhound rescue got them. Kaja is sweet and timid; she’s great with other dogs and warms up to new people after a bit. Potter has some sound fears but is great with dogs and friendly with all people. None of these 4 have/had what I would consider any major behavior issues. Given all 4 of our dogs’ sketchy histories/upbringings, I’m amazed every day at how sweet, trusting, loving, and well-behaved they were/are. I’m not trying to say that we don’t need to focus on raising dogs right…I guess I’m just trying to say that dogs are truly amazing creatures and we often don’t deserve them! (And I also want to say that, since the last dog I trained before our current 2 was Fletcher, in the “choke chain” ’90’s–perfect but not-too-bright Keira I didn’t train–I’ve learned so much from your website!)
For the new ewes may I suggest Patty, Maxene, and LaVerne AndEwe or the AndEwe sisters (Andrew). The look so much alike it seemed they should have a collective name.
I can’t add much to the discussion of puppy raising as in my life there’s only been one litter. When my family bought our Great Pyrenees when I was growing up the agreement was that we’d bring her back to be bred to the dog of their choice, we’d get our pick of the litter and they’d get the rest. It turned out to be something of a disaster litter. 12 puppies, two still births, and six that died of various things so we only managed to raise four. They were handled, loved, and adored from birth and got to explore all around our property. The one we kept didn’t turn out to be especially bright but he was sweet, loving, huge, and friendly with everyone. By all I know the others turned out well also.
Lady Godiva reminds me very much of a ewe I had growing up named Geraldine. Fond memories.
J. Christine says
Melissa Trippe says
We have an 8 year old singleton Border Collie we raised from birth (C-section). She was raised with her mother and 5 other dogs. We tried to do all the things you are supposed to do with singletons to promote healthy behaviors. I guess we got some things right. She can resource guard my husband who is like a year round Santa Claus to the dogs (much to my dismay), but we tend to stay on top of that. She isn’t dog or people aggressive at all. She is somewhat sound sensitive to weird things like if someone says “coffee” or “bye bye” or sneezes. She is by far the smartest dog I’ve ever “owned” even in comparison with our other 4 BCs.
Sorry I can’t help with the ewe names. Our sheep have ridiculous names like Mrs. AhWiggins and Bill Wether (Withers).
Our puppy was not a singleton, but had a brother. We later learned that her breeder (who thought she knew it all), separated the two just a few weeks after they were born, and then removed their mother to be bred again as soon as they were weaned. Even with all the socialization that we proved — starting at 8 weeks of age — she still developed behavioral issues. We struggled for years, trying to make her “right”. It took eons of positive reinforcement training, her becoming older, and a diagnosis of hypothyroidism to get through the difficult times. We love her beyond belief, but now, 8 years later, she still only just tolerates our touch and typically gets up and leaves the couch if we sit down next to her. We blame this all on the first horrible 8 weeks of her little life.
Considering the political climate we are in, how about Martha, Abigail and Dolley – our truly “first” First Ladies. Or maybe you’ve already covered those?
Regina R. Allen DVM says
Re: Singleton Puppies
I had a litter of one Toy Manchester Terrier that was a challenge to raise. His mommy didn’t want to feed him and kept trying to throw him away (out of the pen, into the water dish, etc.). Fortunately, she had milk, and I was able to hold her down to allow him to nurse every two hours. He spent a lot of his time snuggled with me on my chest or in my armpit. I forgot to do the early Neuro stimulation that I normally do with my litters if puppies because I was so afraid he was going to die. At about 2.5 weeks, the dam finally decided that he was okay to nurse, so he spent more time with her as he grew and developed. He was also raised by two other Manchester bitches, one who had a litter previously and was an excellent mother, and she doted on him. He was also exposed to my adult Dobermans and two cats.
However, he has grown into a very quirky little boy! Despite lots of handling and novel stimuli as a youngster, he is very reluctant in new scenarios and when trying new things. It takes much longer to teach him tricks than any other dog I’ve had, and he will often avoid new objects. He despises handling if he doesn’t want it (he’s been a challenge to show), and has an extremely low tolerance for frustration. He often barks out of frustration and avoids even me picking him up. I tell people that he’s “spoiled,” but I’m really embarrassed when he acts like he was raised in a box! I’m going to neuter him after he finishes his Championship because I don’t want to pass on this temperament, but I wonder how much of it was due to lack of normal interaction with littermates.
Thank you for a well reasoned post. I worry when animal behavior professionals make over-simplified pronouncements and the public picks up on them as if they are absolutes, thereby missing the point. We’ve all probably seen litters raised inside a home who never got anywhere near the amount of handling and socialization they should have, or who were bombarded with relentless stimulation day and night. I’d much rather have a pup from a litter such as the one you described, pups who got out into nature daily and explored at will, in addition to thoughtful handling and socialization.
Judy, Violet, and Doralee from 9 to 5 (then it doesn’t really matter if you call one by the other’s name — they all represent working women the world over).
Suzanne Clothier has created an Enriched Puppy Protocol program that she developed over the years as she and an entire village help raise their Hawks Hunt German Shepherds. Her FB page had daily videos and photos of the pups from birth to 9 weeks and all the different sensory stimulants the pups explored each day. Fascinating.
You are right about the how not so much the where. Our most stable, intuitive, noble dog spent many days outside with her litter-mates, and they would gather and sleep under an old concrete stair. It’s where we first saw her.
One downside to adoption is the background is rarely known but usually deprived of these stimuli during those early windows. We can only go from where we are but sometimes I wish we could go backward.
Sophy (papillon) was raised in a byre (or possibly a pigsty) in a crowd of papillons and other dogs. The pups were born indoors, and spent a lot of time in the house and with humans, but slept with their Mum out in a converted farm building and played with a small pack of adults in an enclosed yard (in an English February, too). I think those early months of varied experiences have much to do with her general physical and mental hardiness. I do so agree with you about “how” rather than “where” – toy puppies raised in the home may never have set foot outside a single room, and the big wide world can come as a horrible shock…
It’s funny you mention Jane in a post about a singleton because one of her terriers is currently expecting a singleton! She posted about it in her puppy culture group on Facebook.
Christine Johnson says
I have raised several litters of Pembroke Welsh Corgis using Jane Killian’s Puppy Culture methods. I only have a modest little farm but I take advantage of all of the opportunities found here. Her philosophy, more than her methods, is what is important. I’ve also raised several singletons and they have all turned out to be outstanding pets and performance dogs. I think that taking special care in selection for temperament is a big help along with the extra time (lots of it!) taken with the single pup to ensure a happy outcome.
Robin Espinosa says
What a wonderfully timed article for me! I am very intrested in the behavioral development of puppies and luckily have a client who will be breeding her bitch in the Spring. My client is a long time AKC breeder and I work with her dogs several days a week. I had mentioned some of this “newer information” about raising litters and that I am curious about Puppy Culture and other recommended protocols. My client is open to using these protocols, but I want to do my homework in advance. I am hoping to locate a breeder so I might observe the process. If anyone in the Southern California area is open to sharing knowledge I am happy to lend a hand!
Deborah Mason says
We currently have dogs 3 & 4. Or first was a Golden Retriever singleton who spent her first 8 weeks with mom, dad & “aunt”, my sister, her husband & their toddler. They had horses, pigs, cats & chickens. When she came to us we took her with us everywhere we could. She loved meeting people, was only OK with others dogs, didn’t really know how to play with them. She was very gentle with kids, especially special needs kids, even as an adolescent.
Our second was a 2 year old Golden-Samoyed mix rescue. We were at least his 3rd family & it took 2 years for him to become a “real dog”. He had to learn about treats & toys. It seemed like he’d never been exposed to them. He was really aloof those first 2 years, then became a love sponge. We jokingly called him out “seasonal therapy dog” — we worked in a national park & most seasonal workers had to leave their dogs back home. We’d tether him so he could be inside it within a couple feet of the car & leave the tailgate open. Many seasonal would stop for a “dog fix” on their way in & out of our building. He did well with other dogs, too. He was our tourist. He lived for car rides, watching all the time, recognizing places weed been before.
Our current dogs are both puppy rescues. Marley, now 3-1/2, was only 6 weeks old when the 10 male Labrador Retriever-Springer Spanish puppies were taken to the shelter. We got him a few days after that. Technically we fostered him until his pediatric neuter at 8 weeks old (don’t get me started). We constantly work at introducing him to things. He’s been a real fraidy cat from day over. Rally & Agility training have really helped his confidence. Our other pup, Lab-? mix, was transferred to our local shelter at almost 4 months old with 2 brothers. He’s now 15 months old. He’s had a real tough guy attitude the whole time we’ve had him. I think it may be due in part to being the smallest (30% smaller than the biggest of the 3). He’s a sweetie, but he likes to play rough, jump onto other dogs. With the Rally & Agility training he’s getting better, but we have to be careful with him around smaller dogs.
Reflecting on our dogs, I just wish we’d known then what we know now. We just try to do better with each one. And we just enjoy the good qualities of each one.
Wow, thank you so much for this post. 10 years in rescue (6 of those running my own rescue), 1000s of dogs and never did it occur to me or has anyone ever mentioned anything special needing to be done for singleton pups, but I’ll tell you that now that I read this, it is no surprise at all considering I own two dogs who were singleton puppies raised by my mom and I from 5 days old and 12 hours old due to medical issues. I am feeling a little guilty; we had always assumed that as long as they were raised with other dogs they would get what they needed, but reading this I can now see why that would not quite be enough. Here are my two experiences:
Wrigley is a Boxer that came to us from a breeder at 5 days old b/c he had a cleft palate (he is 6yo now). He fed well from a bottle, but once on gruel, we had SO much difficulty feeding him (we’d later learn he also had an uneven soft palate which is why he had difficulty). Because we foster constantly, throughout his life, he’s had exposure to many, many dogs. However, he is not a dog that snuggles with other dogs and if he is laying on the floor or sleeping and another dog touches him, whether by accident or on purpose, he will immediately growl and snap at them. He is also mildly food aggressive with other dogs.
Jupiter is a bit more of a mess. He is a mixed breed (mom was a hound mix, dad unknown) and he came to us from another rescue at 12 hours due to having a cleft palate. Additionally, his mom was treated for heartworm at a Southern shelter while pregnant (they didn’t know when they treated her). He also ate well from a bottle, however, at 3 weeks old we realized he had an issue with his anus. It turns out he had a stricture in his rectum and his anus really was not large enough. It was either surgery or euthanasia, so at 3 weeks old he had the surgery to remove the stricture and create an appropriate anus. Unfortunately, they could not preserve his sphincter muscle and from 3 weeks of age, he has been incontinent. In retrospect, this led to us not handling him as much as we might have because of the poop. He would also have another surgery around 12 weeks old for a prolapsed rectum and then another around 5 months old to correct his cleft palate. He’s 5 yo now, but has had a myriad of behavior problems. There was a time when he didn’t really care to interact with people or not, his level of impulsivity was through the roof. At around a year old, we brought in a behaviorist and put him on meds and that helped immensely!! He is off them now, but he loves human attention now and his impulsivity is much improved (I assume some of that may also be due to age). He again though does not snuggle with other dogs and does not care to have them touch him while he is sleeping, although he will just move instead of reacting to them. Like Wrigley, he’s been exposed to many dogs since we foster, but he is not great with introductions to new dogs, we have to be very careful and pay close attention to his body language, he still fights with our own dogs from time to time. We’ve resolved to only foster puppies at this point b/c he can be so bad and needs such close supervision. He also has severe food aggression with other dogs. The only saving grace for us is he is one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever seen and we’ve been able to teach him rock solid commands to mitigate some of his behaviors. For Jupiter parsing out what behaviors might be from being a singleton vs. what might have to do with the chemicals his mom received while he was in early stages of development. He did have one sibling and we do know that his brother also has similar implusivity issues and similar issues with other dogs.
I will definitely be looking more into what we should be doing if we have singleton puppies since we do sometimes get them at very young ages through the rescue. Thank you again for this post!
Charlotte Kasner says
I think that the important issue of conditioning in an environment is that it matches the eventual home of the whelps. I have clients with barn-raised dogs that have had chronic stress as the owners don’t seek help until they have had the dog for, sometimes several, years and the problems become cumulative.
Similarly, lots of street dogs find it very difficult to adjust to living in the suburbs of a major city for which neither their genes nor epi-genetics have suited them.
Yes dogs can be resilient and are supremely adaptable but why miss out on the relevant socialisation in those vital early weeks?
In practice, many of my clients’ dogs are lucky if they manage an off lead run in an urban park where they are clipped to within an inch of their life and wrapped in fancy coats whatever the weather. Most have been brought from back street breeders and puppy farms, reared in sheds and barns, and have had no early exposure to anything that life then throws at them at 8 weeks old.
The urban streetscape is much more hectic, noisy and downright dangerous than is was even two decades ago and often owners’ uses aren’t much better.
These dogs need to have had plenty of exposure to household appliances, loud music, noisy, moving advertising hoardings (they make me jump, never mind a puppy) sirens, aircraft and traffic, to name but a few of the things that plague Londoners.
Charlotte Kasner says
Surely the important consideration is to acclimatise whelps to the environment in which they will be re-homed?
I have several clients with dogs that are suffering from chronic stress and often also have poor social skills because they have been barn-raised and have had no exposure to the myriad of household appliances and plethora of noisy hazards in the urban environment into which they have been brought.
About 6 months ago I rescued 2 HW+ female bloodhounds who had been dumped at a shelter after the back yard breeder decided to keep some of the pups rather than treat the HW. Neither of these dogs were well socialized with people. Lyric is still shy, but I could always touch her. It took six weeks to get Jezzie to let me approach her and only lately that she has any trust in the a few people. Both take off when I pick up a broom.
I cannot imagine that the pups would have been well socialized. It doesn’t seem the breeders would be interested in producing socially healthy pups. Their mother’s would only teach fear. How many of these puppies ended up in shelters?
This discussion reminds me of a recent study done in which researchers taught lab rats to drive little, rat-sized “cars.” The rats raised in an enhanced environment, with lots of stimuli, puzzles, and toys that were swapped weekly, were significantly quicker at figuring out to drive, whereas the conventionally-raised rats had to be taught individual steps.
Lis Bennett says
Thanks for your timely and fascinating blog. Can you recommend any books/other sources for dogs who have missed out on these crucial experiences, please? I am struggling with my latest adoption (I have previously fostered/adopted about a dozen dogs, but not encountered Byron’s problems before): my trainer and I suspect that he is a puppy farm dog. I am his 4th owner, and adopted him when he was supposedly 7 months old. As he was also allegedly a jackapoo, but is definitely something much larger and probably with no jackapoo type genes, he may well be younger. When he arrived 3 months ago, he span almost constantly and was not clcean in his crate. He is now more confident, but still has little idea how to play appropriately with my other dogs, and some of them are scared of him. He knows no boundaries and has become increasingly aggressive towards me, eg he will happily jump into his crate in the van which he associates with only good things like walks, but will then often object to me trying to shut the door, by bashing it back open with his paw, growling and on one occasion, biting me. He can cope with a country walk, and is responsive to recall off lead, but cannot cope with any sort of road walking, let alone an urban setting. He is food aggressive.
Jenny Haskins says
I never interpreted “in the home” as “in the house”. When I had pups, they were always reared outside, on grass. That did NOT mean that they were ever short of human interaction or interaction with dogs other than the mother.
As you say, it is NOT where but how! Handled, played with, plenty of space for romping and investigation. And especially not having human handling limited to being grabbed for invasive or scary procedures.
Very interesting. I have a client with a singleton frenchie puppy every week she asks is it possible for puppies to hate their owners!
When clients ask about puppy nipping/mouthing I ask how many siblings they had. The larger litters and singltons tend to have the least amount of bite inhibition and more food possession. It makes sense too much competition or not enough.
Anna Sophia says
I’d love to see more research done on puppy litters and their effect on development. My current girl comes from a litter of twelve and she’s the most stressed out and unable to handle emotions dog I’ve ever had. I started working with a trainer about a year and a half ago who works a little with a hypothesis (that is little known even in Germany where it was first created) that dogs can be born into one of seven positions or jobs within the pack. Initially I was very skeptical but as time has gone on I’ve seen how the different dogs really do seem to take certain traits from their position, according to this hypothesis. It’s been very interesting. My girl’s litter was not only big but very imbalanced—my trainer evaluated all the puppies and out of the twelve, the six females were all the same position. According to her, they were therefore constantly fighting for who would take up the position. The breeder confirmed that there was a lot of fighting (she probably should have separated them into at least two litters but she didn’t). The breeder’s final litter was 13 puppies, but a bit more balanced according to this hypothesis of positions, and she separated from a few weeks the puppies into three litters that were compatible. They still often were let out to play together with people and other stimuli but they slept and were fed separately. The pups were so much calmer and more relaxed than the puppies from the litter that I got my girl from.
My trainer has had a few litters herself, and she raises them so well. I have never met calmer more relaxed and confident puppies. She’s clearly doing something right!
Helen Parker says
Hopefully I’m not to late to add suggestions as puns are my thing:
Lucille Baa (wait, it gets better)
Judy Baaland (I like that one)
Indira Lambi (and this one)
Badonna (maybe my favourite. . . you didn’t have her, did you? Not as awesome as Lady BaaBaa but still. . . . )
As always thanks for your lovely lovely blog.
Oh Oh Oh Oh!!! I’m laughing so hard I can barely type! Winners announced next Monday, but honestly, these are hard to beat!
Thanks so much for this input! Certainly doesn’t support the “larger litters, more mellow” hypothesis!
Betsy Copeland says
I want to add into the naming list…(another punster here!)
Fleece Navidad (sorry, its the holiday)
Alive and Wool
All Sheeps and Sizes
I’ve raised my bloodhound puppies on a combination of Puppy Culture and Avidog (similar program) and have seen a difference in their behavior….they are better problem solvers and much more willing to be adventurous (aka suicidal!!). It makes them better thinkers, but not always easier to live with. I don’t think the litter size makes them more mellow though, just makes them more determined to stand out in the crowd!
Hysterical names! Love it! And thanks for mentioning Avidog, I should have mentioned them too.
Angela Crudgington says
Great post. I love the study about how puppies from a pet store have more behavioral issues, maybe this will also help people to think twice before adopting these pups as well as ensuring that people look further into the conditions puppies are kept in prior to purchase. I have a 10 month old pit bull/rottweiler pup that we’ve had since she was a bottle baby. She was raised with 1 sister until about 10 weeks as well as my 2 adult dogs in the house. She’s a great dog, very smart, willing to please, but has not boundaries and loves sleeping on my face (even though she’s at least 60lbs now). We socialized her in every way possible and has graduated from 3 training classes, but she is still nervous around new people, submissive mostly, but if people do not read her body language and back off, she will growl from time to time.
Thanks for these remarks about the “where”. I worked in an urban animal control for a while, and we successfully raised a litter of puppies in the shelter environment….by applying what we knew about puppy development, and making sure the litter got the best we could offer them. mama had a serious case of maternal aggression, so at first we had to carefully contain her so we could examine, weigh, and handle the puppies.
At five weeks we recruited volunteers to come in at lunch time and play with the puppies, exposing the pups to surfaces, etc, that they wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. At six weeks they went to foster homes for a few hours a day, and then a few more hours a day, and by eight weeks they were d0ing overnights. They were adopted at nine week of age.
Follow up was limited, but the one puppy adopted by a friend of mine is a well adjusted adult except for anxiety about being alone in an unfamiliar place.
It was a wonderful experience for everyone. And far better than having to euthanize a litter of puppies when no other organization could take them because of mama dog’s aggression.
BTW, once the puppies were gone mama became sweet as could be, although she showed signs of anxiety. She, too, was adopted into a wonderful and loving home.
I have a singleton BC – now 4 years old – who I raised using puppy culture as well as Susan Garrett’s protocols when she raised Swagger. Did it help with his ability to cope with all things dog? No one will ever know. He is socially awkward and has poor social skills when he feels threatened by an incoming dog or by a dog who is staring,
Barking lunging. He has low frustration tolerance and I happen to think that pushing him off of a nipple- even using a fake puppy- caused him to lose trust in me in regards to reinforcement strategies- ie I think he always feels like I am withholding reinforcement. But again – we will never know. It could just be who he is….
Currently he is learning to be a dog around a new litter of puppies I have in my house – who are also being raised with PC protocols. There are many pens and gAtes in my house as we sort through it all. I am curious to see if/how much there is a difference in this litter as they are half siblings to him.
Terri Dickerson says
I love your balanced take on raising puppies. My puppies are born in my bedroom, then at 4 days move to the dining room. In each room is a different atmosphere. During these early times, I am doing the ENS . When I feel they have passed a danger point and their eyes are open and they are getting more adventurous then they move to the nursery or girls house . There we have slick floors , blankets to pile on, and litter box training begins. Lots of different noises and smells. Mom can escape to an outdoor area through a doggie door. The girls house is set up with hanging toys, stuffed animals, a radio. I put an IPad that plays every sound I can think of from rain, thunderstorms to guns. Starting 4 weeks, the out door world is introduced, through barriers and doors, steps and porches.. Different footing, tires, tippy snow slides, water fun in rabbit pans. And then access to walks and running in an orchard with grass and shade and adult grandma dogs to put puppies in their place. Then we have bus rides (car or a 4 wheeler) to kindergarten. Or we will have a group walk to kindergarten, with a gravel road or dirt or grass yards, bushes, ponds . Kindergarten is set up in a horse box stall. A 3 x4” litter box, tire beds, a sandbox full of balls . Every day new and different play things. And a cat that loves to stay with the puppies. Several times they get out and run up and down the stable (19 stalls) to explore and play. In addition they go on a field trip out and over to a building with my office. Surrounded by a fenced in grass area with covered patio and a sprinkler or a big puddle. Inside the office is a pen for them with a litter box, toys, and a children’s couch. This is where they meet their new parents. In addition, I take them on car rides starting before their eyes open . From 4 weeks on I encourage visiting and ask people to wear hats glasses etc. The puppies wear off and on a collar with a leather tie to it for other puppies to yank and pull on. When the puppies are 7 weeks old they move to a kindergarten that opens up to a shaded and covered 12 x 20 foot run…complete with slides, puppy pools and older puppies…The puppies are introduced to 7 different fruits, vegetables, locations and footing. I try to combine the best of the two main puppy schools. And most important when the puppies leave, there is an open line of communication for the life of the puppies. For those lucky to be within driving distance, free socializing classes 8-16 weeks are included and 4 months and up free basic manners and beginning agility is included in a puppy . For those too far away. I have a basic manners video.
Terri, could these be the luckiest puppies in the world?
Tracy Calhoun says
I am a big Avidog fan and currently am raising a singleton (first time in about 12 years). Time will tell if her village of nanny dogs will be able to help, but she’ll be staying.