As a breeder my primary goal is to produce dogs with sound mind and body. To achieve this I do my best to choose the parents (mostly to choose the dad) of our litters carefully. Ask about health, included the typical health issues of Siberians (epilepsy, cataract) is my very first question, followed by the question about character and temperament, and the health, character and temperament of the dogs’ closest relatives. But the work is not done here, I want to make sure our puppies get the best possible chance to live a happy and full life, and that means tons of work in the following weeks. :)
Although working with our dogs is a part of our lives, when we decide to make a litter with one of our females we keep a close eye on her and make sure she is in the best condition physically, and of course emotionally and mentally too. Our females overall are 2,5 years old when we decide to breed them at the first time. I believe this is the time when they are ready to become moms, both in mind and body.
Our puppies are born and raised in our house, at a separated place that is only for the mom and for the puppies without the pack being able to bother them. As the puppies are growing up this close to us, they get use to being touched, hearing different voices (like vacuum cleaning, TV, music, the pack barking and howling), smelling different scents - shortly, they get a great socialization from the first seconds, they gain a lot of confidence by experience a lot of things already, they learn to trust in people and living together with them.
Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) & Early Scent Introduction (ESI)
Between the 3rd and 16th days of their lives we do two programs with our puppies: these are the Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) & Early Scent Introduction (ESI). This short period is believed to be a time of rapid neurological growth and development.
Early Neurological Stimulation: It requires handling the puppies one at a time while performing a series of five exercises. Even though puppies are very immature during this time frame, they are sensitive and respond to ENS. Articles published by Dr. Carmen Battaglia (www.breedingbetterdogs.com) report on research by the Super Dog Program (ENS) also showed that: “Early neurological stimulation will have important and lasting effects.” (...) “Kicking the neurological system into action earlier than normal will benefit the puppy with improved cardiovascular, stronger heartbeats, stronger adrenal glands, more tolerance to stress and greater resistance to disease." ENS puppies were found to be more active, exploratory, calmer and less distracted when working.
Early Scent Introduction: A training program designed to enhance the puppies ability to identify and react to specific scents. Each day we introduce a new, strong scent to the puppies and record their reaction. Dr. Gayle Watkins (breeder of sporting Golden Retrievers), the founder of ESI, began to test the effectiveness of ESI on her dogs: from each litter of hers there were puppies who received ESI training and others that wouldn’t. Results showed that the dogs participated in ESI had more scenting titles and they were achieving titles at ages of up to five years younger than the pups that had not participated. According to Alexandra Horowitz, author of Inside of a Dog, dogs understand the world through their noses, the area in the brain that processes the data picked up by the nose is 40 times larger in dogs than in humans. By doing ESI with our pups we give them a chance to become even better companion, mantrailing, sport or therapy dogs.
As soon as the puppies’ eyes and ears have opened and they start to explore their place, new objects, voices, surfaces are introduced to them everyday. We put different toys, matts to the nursery and start their crate training by changing the whelping box to a show crate. I deeply believe crate training is one of the best things we can do to our dogs, even if they never will attend at a dogshow. Teaching them to rest there after feeding (our dogs rest at least 1 hour after feeding), being calm when we have visitors who might afraid of dogs or don’t feel comfortable around them, or even when we face with an emergency situation... the crate is there to keep our dogs calm and safe. This is also the age when we start to introduce and play different voices to them, like thunderstorm, fireworks, etc.
Our pups start weaning around 3-4 weeks of age, we mix Proplan puppy food with Royal Canine Babydog milk, they love it and get use it very quickly. They also get their first outdoor experiences in this age and meet with other members of the pack. Of course they keep sleeping in the house at night.
From the 4th week we start table and clicker training. I find very useful to train them from a young age to be calm on a table, by the time they have their first veterinary check-ups and grooming they already familiar with being in the high and being moved and touched all around their body.
We teach them to associate the clicker with a treat. By using only positive reinforcement they understand quickly what we want and expect from them. They learn how to communicate with humans and we can easily use this training in everyday life. Less stressful both for humans and puppies! :)
We accept visitors from the 5th week, and we expect our future puppy owners to come as often as they can. We also do our bests to introduce our puppies to a variety of people. We don’t give puppies to those who don’t visit us at least one time before the puppies are ready to move to their new families.
The puppies go to their first car trips around 6th weeks of age, in this way we can make sure they have good first experiences and they get use it by the time their families are coming to pick them up. Due to dog viruses being in the public environment we don’t allow them to walk on the ground in public places.
At 7th week it’s time for the first veterinary check-up. Pups get their first set of shots and passports, get micropchipped and get their pedigree names. :)
When we plan and make a litter, we do it with the thought of keeping a puppy. By 8-9th weeks of age we have a good idea which puppy we would like to keep and which puppies are suited for which homes. We don’t prefer the idea of the new owners choosing their own puppy alone, simply because they don’t know them as much as we do. By talking a lot with our future owners, we learn what kind of puppy they are searching and imagining in their family, and we give a suggestion of which puppy/puppies would be the best choice for them. When we give this suggestion we consider the structure, temperament, character, activity and working ability of each puppy.
From the 10th week our puppies are ready to move to their new homes! :) By this time they know the leash and get used the collar/harness, they know that car trips are fun and the clicker means only a lot of treats; they were groomed, they started their potty training and most importantly, they already met and spent some times with their future families.
ALL OUR PUPPIES
- have the first set of shots & contract, microchip, passport
- we de-wormed them and made sure they are without parasites
- parents are health tested & FCI registered
- puppies are FCI registered
- they move with a starter kit that includes the pedigree, the passport, the copy of parents’ health tests, a bag of food, toys and other surprises to make the first days easier :)