by Kate Albertini, NEADS Breeding & Puppy Development Coordinator
The Frannie puppies are now 4 weeks old. They have grown so much in the past week, and all their personalities are starting to develop. For example, Sharon is a curious pup, always checking new things out. If someone is crying for no reason, it's usually Solomon. He loves cuddling and hanging out.
This past week I've started exposing the pups to toys that move and make noise. At this stage in the game, the puppies do not have a strong fear response yet, so they typically are not afraid to approach new things. If any of the pups are unsure, it helps them to watch their siblings interact with new things so that they are able to overcome their uncertainties.
I've also started to challenge their little puppy brains. In the middle of their pen is a small threshold that they need to step over. For some meals, I tap the metal bowl on one side of the pen so the puppies need to figure out that they have to climb over the threshold to get their dinner. It's interesting to see who figures it out first and who figures it out last. Another activity we've started is rewarding the puppies for sitting and being quiet. Puppies have the tendency to demand a lot of attention. I stand at the side of their pen and give a treat to any puppy that is sitting quietly. If they bark or climb on the side, no treat. It's incredible to see how quickly the puppies pick up the object of the game. Soon enough, most of the puppies are sitting quietly when they see me.
The pups have started eating soaked kibble as their teeth have fully erupted from their gums. Frannie will start to wean them off of nursing shortly.
Over the weekend, we moved Frannie and her litter back to the campus Nursery. The litter will be cared for by two dedicated, socially distanced staff members. Meanwhile, I'm cleaning and rearranging things back at my house to prepare for our next litter, as one of our own NEADS dogs, Libby, is due next week.
I've enjoyed all of my time with this wonderful litter and can't wait to see where their journeys take them. Ready and waiting for the next pups to arrive!