Once Buffy’s poodle puppies opened their eyes at about 2 ½ weeks old, their development sped up tremendously. By 4 weeks the puppies were wagging their tails, playing with each other, and doing a good deal of vocalizing. Their movements were getting quicker and less clumsy, and they were starting to enjoy their puppy toys.
Their teeth popped through at about 3 ½ weeks old and the puppies were eating two meals of puppy gruel twice a day by 4 ½ weeks, in addition to nursing. The introduction of puppy gruel also allowed me to start teaching the puppies a recall. Every time they are fed, I call, “puppy, puppy, puppy!” They learn that "puppy, puppy, puppy" means they're getting something awesome (food!) and they learn to come running. This is laying the foundation for an emergency recall down the road. I play different types of music, movies, and sounds during mealtimes. Associating sounds that can sometimes be scary for puppies (sirens, fireworks, vacuum cleaners, etc.) with food will make those experiences more positive in the long run.
As the puppies left their whelping box at 4 weeks and moved into their toddler stall, they also got their first introduction to a doggy door. It took about 3 days to get them comfortable going in and out, but by the end of the week, they loved their new freedom. I have three different door flaps that I use to help encourage them. The first is cut short enough that it barely touches them as they go through. After they are comfortable with this, I install a longer flap that they must push through, but it still cut short enough so that the magnetic latch doesn’t work. The last step is to install a regular flap that they must push with more effort to get through. Going into week 5, the puppies were using the middle-length flap like pros! In the summer I love letting the puppies have access to the doggy door 24 hours a day, but in the cold Colorado month of January I must keep it closed at night. The pups have a potty tray for nighttime and are doing great keeping their overnight space clean and tidy. The puppies are so wonderful at this stage, they love to be picked up, cuddled, and played with. Every time I walk into their space, they are so excited to see me! Week 5 is also a time when I start changing the location for the puppy curriculum. I bring them into different parts of the yard (weather permitting) or into different parts of my house to continue their exposure activities. Something as simple as having the puppies in the kitchen when I’m unloading the dishwasher is a great activity for them. And as the puppies are more coordinated, I also begin introducing obstacles for them to interact with such as steps, slides, and tunnels. Everything is properly scaled to their size and abilities to keep the curriculum safe, while still empowering them to tackle new challenges.