The pups are really becoming little dogs now – they have been going outside regularly (sun permitting) and are getting much better on their feet – trotting and leaping and generally beating each other up. Being outside exposes them to new noises and smells, and the other dogs and also birds. As neighbours switch on lawn mowers/ strimmers, light the BBQ and turn Alexa up – so the pups’ experiences are broadened. As ever the favourite toys are empty plastic bottles and cardboard boxes! The are now tucking into food 4 times a day – their kibble is only lightly soaked now and they are starting raw mince too. As with previous litters, raw carrot makes a great teething toy, they can munch on them and enjoy the satisfaction of being able to break them up.
Weekly nail trimming and grooming with soft bristle brush continue as part of the day to day routine, they are also subjected at five weeks to another 3 day course of wormer – and they are better at spitting it out now – so I no longer do it on my lap as would be wearing a lot of it!
Mera is now back to routine walks, personally I never walk the mum, until pups are 4 weeks of age for a number of reasons; first – lactation is one of the most energy using functions performed by mammals and the fact that you have to feed dams at least triple their usual diet to enable them to produce enough milk for puppies means they barely have the spare calories to go for a run. Secondly I don’t want the bitches being exposed to bugs and then bringing them home to pups and thirdly my bitches are generally besotted with the babies at this age so would be most reluctant to leave the pups for any length of time. By 4 weeks the balance is changing, pups are bigger and on the weaning journey and the bitch is getting stir crazy, so I start gentle walks – as she will need to build up condition again.
Four weeks also heralds the introduction of visitors, from the neighbours’ grandchildren to visiting families eager to meet the gang. The pups are very outgoing and enjoy the human interaction, but boy are those needles of teeth sharp, no wonder Mera is less keen to feed these days! Dare I also say it – not sure if wishful thinking or coincidental, but a couple of pups have asked once or twice to go outside and that combined with my timings means I haven’t had any daytime poops in the indoor puppy pen for a few days. I’ve said it before but this regular encouragement and access to outside really does increase chance of quickly house-trained puppies. Pups reared in kennels or left home alone all day will be familar and content to poop where they are and its harder to break that habit once they leave their new homes, a routine which includes regular exposure to outside does encourage them to differentiate where to sleep and where to poop.
As ever no matter how many litters you have bred, there comes along something new to surprise you. Pups (like human babies) are always born with blue eye and between 4 to 16 weeks the eye colour changes to one hopes , a dark brown, as is required in the lapphund breed standard, so it came as a surprise when I realised that Ermine was going to have one eye remaining blue and the other changing to brown. Heterochromia of the eye, is where the iris colour differs in the eyes, it does not affect visibility, and in some breeds like Siberian huskies it is quite normal. I’ve seen it with a number of other lapphunds though generally they are ones with extensive white on their heads (same in border collies), Ermine does not have a lot of white on head but he does have a full white bib/tummy and those white socks, and am sure we all agree he is still very handsome.
Head shots this week (thank you to my assistants and camera team this week !) – click on the small photos to open a bigger image.