Pups have turned 10 weeks old this past week! They are settling into the routine and starting to sleep through the night. They know their way by scent from the door to the potty area and to the door again when they are done. They are doing the few steps up and down on their way in and out to the yard. Our car trips to and from work are now quiet and calm with puppies in their individual crates. Things are getting a bit easier. I know what to expect, they know what to expect.
Lots more fun stuff happening this past week for the puppies!
Food bowl games are continuing - not at every meal, just now and then, petting while they eat, looking in an ear while they eat, sticking my hand in the bowl to hand feed a few pieces, moving the bowl slightly while they eat. I am watching for any signs of stress - hunkering down lower over the bowl, tensing up, stopping eating, eating faster. But I am doing these things infrequently and very briefly and their reaction is neutral. I do believe a dog has the right to eat in peace and not be bothered, but I also know that things happen and what the puppies learn now will carry over for their lifetime. So, I take some time to do food bowl games now while they are young.
Long lead walks to run and explore new areas,smells and surfaces. Just letting puppies sniff and explore, pick up a stick or a feather they find, I take along a couple toys and encourage some play with me in new places. I may stop and sit on the ground and just let them explore so they have me to come back to as their security. Of course these are puppy safe places - watch out for hot surfaces in the summer, and places where lots of other dogs don't frequent.
Puppies are starting to ask to go outside and potty if they need to go at a time that is not on their usual schedule. This is VERY nice!
Puppies did muffin tin eating and food ball eating of their meals - put meals in an empty muffin tin for them to experiment with, and also in food ball toys. Vinny is very confident in his techniques, picking up and tossing the muffin tin, pouncing on the ball; while Elsa can be more easily frustrated and will tend to give up and walk away. I help her and make hers easier so she can be successful at this point to help her learn problem solving skills and confidence. I have no concerns about her as she is normally the more active outgoing one. Just want to make sure she is having good experiences and learning to be successful.
Oh, the empty cardboard box I gave them at the office has been great fun this past week and a half. It doubles as a toybox that they can pull the toys out of, and a chew toy, as well as a wrestle partner. They toss it around and dig inside it and roll around with it. Just the other day, I filled it with new toys. They had kept the same toys in their office pen for the past two weeks, so I gave them all new toys and they had a blast pulling all the new toys out of the box over and over again.
The puppies' ears are trying to decide whether to stand or tip or flop this week. Vinny spent most of this week with one ear tipped or straight up, and the other one still floppy. Elsa's are pretty much both tipped all the time now, although sometimes one will go straight up.
More grooming! I'm brushing them more thoroughly now - brushing the hair the wrong way to fluff them up, focusing on around the ears, ruff, and back legs where there will be LOTS of Collie hair soon. And introduced other grooming tools that I used just for a few swipes on their body to help them get used to the different feel - the undercoat rake and the comb. Worked toward nail clipping with lots of foot handling and managed to cut a nail or two. Here's a hint: try to cut puppy nails when they are sleeping! But if you teach them to love their crates too well, like I did, it is hard to do because they will go find their crates to sleep in. And, it's hard to cut puppy nails while they are in their crate sleeping. Also did mouth and gum handling to get them used to tooth brushing, looking in their ears, etc.
Elsa and Vinny learned that they enjoy popcorn! And they learned how sitting like angelic puppies gets them more popcorn than leaping up to pull the whole bowl down. They also learned about taking turns with the other dogs.
The puppies learned about wearing different types of clothes this week. Jackets and skirts and shirts - oh my! Dressing up puppies can be fun for special events and taking pictures - IF the puppy is not bothered and stressed by it. Elsa and Vinny took it all in stride and were walking around and having fun in their outfits. Dressing puppies in clothes helps them get used to feeling new sensations on their body parts, having their bodies handled and manipulated, and can help them be more accepting of new equipment later on, like harnesses, vests, gentle leaders, etc.
We had a make-shift puppy class this past week. The puppies got to have their own little class with Nike, a border collie/pitbull puppy of about the same age. There was no group playtime, as Elsa was a bit worried when Nike tried to jump up on her, but we let them meet and gave them treats to hunt for side by side to let them see that they could be near another puppy and nothing bad would happen. They each got to go through an obstacle course at the office - new place, new equipment. Lots of fun! It's important not to have an agenda when doing a puppy obstacle course. Let the puppy explore and take the obstacles in the order they want to. No forcing, just fun and however much they want to do. It's the puppy's choice.
Two of my adult dogs are really just starting to play with the puppies in a nice way. This is important for the puppies, as they learn the rules of being a dog, playing, bite inhibition, etc. They have been learning already when it is ok or not ok to take a toy or a bone the other dogs are chewing on. There have been a couple times when puppies yelped at being reprimanded by the adults. I am always supervising them when they are together. When adults need some quiet time away from puppies, it's important that I provide that. When puppies get too far out of hand, as they do, I make sure I step in and keep the peace and create space. It's nice to see them starting to have some real nice playtimes together now.
Elsa will be having a big week this next week, as she is leaving us for her new forever home! I am so excited for her and her new family, but Vinny and I will miss her. And I think the other dogs will miss her a bit too.
And, as usual ... a sleeping puppy, is a good puppy. Vinny has the most unusual sleeping positions!