From the day they are born my poodle puppies are loved and carefully monitored to make sure they are healthy and happy. I have 8 weeks to give them the best possible start in life before they go to their forever homes, and I don’t waste a signal minute of that precious time.
The first two weeks are a delicate time for puppies. They cannot regulate their body temperature and need to be kept warm. They also cannot see or hear and use their noses to find their way, pulling themselves along the ground with little legs not yet strong enough to stand on. They need to eat every two hours and need their mom to help stimulate them to relieve themselves. In these early days, my main priority is to make sure the puppies are warm, eating well, and gaining weight every day. Equally important is to make sure the mother is comfortable, and receiving everything she needs to take care of her pups. Everyday the whelping box is cleaned, fresh bedding provided, and the puppies are weighed. And though the most important thing at this time is making sure everyone stays healthy, I do still take this opportunity to give the puppies an extra boost in their development.
Puppies are born with their eyes and ears closed and rely solely on their sense of smell and touch to navigate the world. As puppies grow, their sense of smell will continue to be an important way in which they perceive the world. Canine noses are so amazing that service dogs can smell drops in blood sugar, changes in blood pressure, and dangerous allergens, keeping their owners safe. Because a dog’s sense of smell is so important, we follow a procedure called Early Scent Introduction (ESI). From days 3 to 16 the puppies are exposed to a different scent each day to help increase nose awareness and confidence. This is excellent for hunting dogs and service dogs. And even if one of our poodles is just going to be a well-loved and spoiled family pet, it is still a quick and simple way to enhance their development.
At the same time we start ESI, we also begin Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS). ENS was developed by Dr. Carmen Battaglia for the US Military to improve the performance of military dogs. It is a simple 5 step handling exercise that can improve cardiovascular performance, give stronger heartbeats, stronger adrenal glands, and increase tolerance to stress and resistance to disease. Check out the video below for a look at ESI and ENS on one of our poodle puppies.
Towards the end of the first two weeks, the puppies will begin to open their eyes and hear for the first time. Their little legs will get stronger by the day, and they will begin walking, then running, and playing! And this is when things start to get really exciting! Stay tuned!