Our Puppies are born in the walk-in closet of our bedroom in a special wooden whelping box big enough for mom to be comfortable but small enough to be cozy. We prefer the puppies to get the colostrum from mother's milk unless they are on the weak side. Then we help them along with a glucose supplement.
As soon as a puppy is born, we help clean up the puppy, and then we weigh and record information about the puppy. We record the color, any other markings, inspect for a healthy puppy and color-code them with rickrack collars. After all the puppies are born which is usually at night we all take a little much needed nap.
After a couple of days, we begin to supplemental feed the puppies with a special formula - similar to a human newborn baby's formula.
This is also when they get their tails docked and dew claws removed. Other than that, we let mother poodle do all of the work. We keep the bedding clean - changing it 2 or 3 times a day as needed. The first few days we sit leaning over the bed and hold the puppies so their mother does not get upset. After a few days, she is more secure and lets us sit by the bed to feed or hold the puppies.
The puppies stay in the closet for the first four weeks. They also get bottle fed for the first four weeks. Then we introduce baby cereal into the formula and let them learn to eat this food out of a bowl. We slowly add some blended cooked chicken breast into the cereal. We also soak special kibble in water and start them on that.
At four weeks, they come into the living room during the day so they can be a part of the household. We put them in an exercise pen for management and protection. Our other poodles get a chance to get to know them. This is when they are really beginning to learn to play. They always have lots of toys to play with and of course, each other. We pick them up and carry them around while doing our chores so they become accustomed to everything including noise and activity.
Between four and five weeks, we let one or two at a time loose in the house - supervised, of course! Our other poodles get to sniff them up close and follow them around. Our younger poodles love to play with them and they are surprisingly gentle. The babies get to explore and have a real adventure. If the weather permits, we carry them outside for a few minutes at a time to have a look around. Also, at around four weeks we give them their first bath and clipping. They get their faces clipped, their little paws, and their back end. This is the first time they experience the blow dryer and the electric clippers.
They really want a lot of attention at this age, so we put off dull stuff like washing dishes and doing laundry and we hold them and play with them. We also introduce more new toys at this age.
We also begin to potty training at this time. We paper train first and then gradually train them to go outside. Summer litters are much easier, of course, because the weather permits us to take them out at almost anytime of the day or night. Winter is a little tougher. We live in a snow area and we do not expect our little babies to walk out into the snow. We prefer to train them to go outside but if that isn't possible they are definitely paper-trained.
Six weeks of age is a time to begin some new foods. And boy do they love to eat! Especially the good stuff! They also start getting treats like biscuits and other doggie cookies. And we slowly introduce some canned dog food and fresh cooked chicken at this age. Puppies' stomachs are very sensitive so you must be careful what you introduce and when.
At six weeks or so, we also start a little training. They begin to learn to take food gently from our hand. We begin to take each one separately and teach them to sit. We also take them outside and get them to follow us around. Next we begin to work on their sit and then from there they learn to lie down.
Leash training is something we strive to begin before they go to their new homes. Much of this training is very time consuming, especially with large litters, so we do not guarantee they will be leash trained. They will at least have had a leash on that they drag around the house a bit.
We do not let our puppies go until they have had their second series of vaccinations. That is around nine weeks of age. We feel they have a little more protection from the world this way.
As you may have noticed, we interact with our puppies constantly to give them a good start. We do spoil them but only in a good way. If they need to be held, we hold them. We want to help make the transition to their new home easy and successful.