Update February 2011
PUPPY RAISING PRACTICES - INFANCY TO 8 WEEKS
Our puppies are raised in our home and because we have such large litters they are supplemented on goats milk from birth to three weeks when necessary, both to assure that they are never dehydrated (which causes runts), and to support the "mothers". During that first three weeks we weigh the puppies daily, trim their toenails every 3-4 days, and put new collars on them every 4-5 days as their growth is so rapid. The standard puppies are weighed on a regular digital scale and should gain an ounce a day at first and then up to 3-4 ounces daily, whereas miniature puppies gain in a tenth of an ounce to start with and then an ounce or two a day.
Jenny with litter at birth in 4' x 4' whelping box with lots of absorbent padding.
Tasy in her "birthing bed" with the first three pups of the TS5 litter
"Tasy" moves into her "doll crib" after the puppies are born - shown here at 3 weeks of age.
"Tasy" loves her "crib" as it elevates her off the floor and gives her more distance from the other poodles.
We find it essential that the dam have food and water inside her whelping box the first week, however once she is willing to leave the box for short periods of time it can be set just outside the box, otherwise she will not eat and drink enough to provide all the milk needed for the puppies well being, and if you are not supplementing with goats milk, your puppies can suffer from dehydration. The standard dam has to produce almost two gallons of milk a day by the time a litter of 10-12 puppies is two weeks of age. That's twice the amount a good dairy goat gives, who is at least double the dam's body weight. We find that goat milk, canned or fresh, is a much better supplement than the commercial formulas, as we have better weight gains and hardly ever have diarrhea in our puppies. If you have more than 8 puppies it is also essential that the dam's tail area and vulva be washed each time she goes out to go, as since there are not enough teats to go around there will always be a puppy trying to latch onto the vulva. The puppies can pick up bacteria and worm eggs, and a one celled organism called coccidiosis in this way which can lead to diarrhea.
Mandy with AM3 Litter (x Sterling) at 1 week old.
We practice what we call "giving the puppies an opportunity to learn" as a puppy raising method. We whelp the puppies in one corner of the living room where we have easy access to the box. We have found that moving the whelping box or puppy pen set-up on a weekly basis exposes the puppies to new scents and air currents and increases their adaptability and development by about two weeks, especially compared to puppies who are raised in the same corner until they go to their new homes. When their eyes open at two weeks we add a "potty/play" box to the whelping box, lined with paper. This is the first stage of their house breaking. Within hours the smartest puppies of the litter, barely able to crawl, will crawl out to use the paper and then crawl back into the whelping box. Within a few days the entire litter will usually be using the paper. Supplementing the puppies these first weeks gives us a good chance to play with the puppies feet, and get them used to their faces being handled for grooming, however even when we don't supplement we take time daily to handle every puppy and get them used to different textures, smells, and having their feet, faces, ears and tails handled.
CM1 Cameo x Kit Standard Litter at 4 weeks, with extension added to whelping box.
TS5 Tasy x Promise Minatire Litter at 4 weeks in their playpen.
At three weeks of age when the ears open we start their cereal feeding, and use a soft clap with a "come, babies" command each time they are fed. This leads to the next step in the transition of removing the second box and the addition of a paper lined exercise pen to the whelping box at four weeks of age. At this time we start walking the puppies outside about every two hours from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM. During this time ,the 4th-5th week, we teach them some basic commands - "in", "out", "potty outside", "walk", "watch", and continuing with their "come" command. Once they have understanding of these basic commands we then take them out to an outside play yard, regardless of the weather. It's really important to have this set-up close to an outside door if possible, or to use sections of an exercise pen to make an aisleway directly outdoors. Puppies can be carried outdoors, however their "potty outside" is learned much faster if they walk out the door in tune to the "out" command and the "potty outside" command at the same time. Usually within two days my standard puppies have quit having messes on the paper and are actually asking to go "out" - often at 2:00-3:00 AM at this stage, and I do get up to accommodate them as this speeds their training amazingly, and I have a lot less mess to deal with - and less dirty crates when that time comes along. You can see that I do sleep within hearing of the puppies - usually until those we are continuing training with for their new families are 16-20 weeks old.
TS5 Miniature Litter - 2nd day of cereal feeding and 1st trip outside to the "big" world.
AM1 Standard Litter - Mandy x Rojo - 1st time in the play yard - "Hey, Let us out!!!" 2nd Day of cereal feeding.
We also start the grooming training at 4 weeks of age - starting with a bath with a soft water spray in a utility tub, and using a soft flow warm air dryer and a slicker brush - brushing the coat up the body toward the head, and up the legs toward the back as it dries. Then Mishelle usually clips the face, feet, tummy and tail using a palm pro clipper (smaller & quieter) - and we take the first grooming pictures. We always groom on a table, or the washer or dryer, or a counter - this is essential in getting the puppies used to being groomed on a grooming table and getting over any tendency toward the fear of heights. We cuddle them in our arms on the table to help them feel loved and secure, and to build their confidence level. We try to take pictures at birth, day old individual pictures, then every week thereafter for their new families, and for our albums. We also try to take litter shots as well at the various stages. I find that special touches add a lot of enjoyment, both for us raising the puppies, and for our families who are kept in the "link" of their puppy growing from infancy to toddler (8-12 weeks).
A Tasy x Promise Puppy before his first grooming and after his first grooming. My, oh my, what a difference!!
We also start the worming program at four weeks of age - and this is really essential if you occasionally have a puppy that coughs after feeding, or vomits back up milk or cereal. Round worms are the one type of worm that the puppies can get in utero, and they grow as fast as the puppies. A heavy case of worms can often mimic other serious conditions in young puppies. It is also essential to use a low dosage of wormer in cases of heavy infestation, and at times give the puppy a few drops of oil by mouth, and possibly even an enema with a few drops of oil to help pass the worms. We use pyrantel pamoate for our first series of wormings .10 cc/# - so you do need a 1 cc syringe or diabetic syringe. It is essential to worm every 10-14 days until no worms are seen - these worms look like spaghetti - and once you see a litter of puppies pass them you never forget them. The wormer works in about six hours and is very effective. We have a computer generated health record that we complete on each puppy, and note all the worming's on it and on the litter weight records as well. Once the worming has been done, and if the teeth are coming in on the entire litter we start adding softened and mashed (with potato masher) kibble to the puppies cereal mixture - gradually reducing the rice baby cereal. During the next two weeks we gradually start adding cooked rice, cooked oatmeal, scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, ground apple and carrot, and a supplement (Green Vibrance) which has microbials in it to their soft feed. When their teeth are fully in (standards about 5 weeks, miniatures sometimes closer to 6 weeks) we are feeding four soft feeds/day and add dry kibble free choice. As soon as the puppies are able to eat dry kibble well (and not just play with it) we gradually reduce the soft feedings to AM and PM. The puppies often prefer dry kibble during times of heavy teething, however dry kibble no matter how well promoted does not meet all of their nutritional needs. Also the more organically (chemical, steroid, and low grade antibiotic free) a puppy can be fed, the better for its health and longevity. We keep our puppies on microbials their whole life as this keeps their intestinal system in optimal health - they absorb more nutrients, they produce less fecal material, they are less prone to other bacterial infections, they don't have smelly gas, they are less prone to bloat (typical in a number of large breeds), they have better pigmentation as a result of absorbing more nutrients. We have also found that since taking this approach to diet that puppy and show coats on adults are more luxurious. As you can see their fourth week involves a lot of changes for the puppies.
At six weeks of age we start the weaning process - although most "mothers" have already started it. A poodle "mom" is the most devoted creature ever the first week or two, but after that usually reclaims part of her own life to be with her human family. She will return to the whelping box every few hours to take care of her puppies needs, but other than that spends her time on a blanket or pad outside the box.
1st stage nursing - laying down 2nd stage nursing - sitting up
3rd stage nursing - standing up 4th stage nursing - puppies scratch dam's muzzle and dam regurgitates for pups
We do the second grooming at six weeks of age, again using a table or high surface. Using a higher powered water spray, a higher powered table dryer, and if the coat is still thin enough a palm pro clipper again to clip the face, feet, tummy and tail. At this time Mishelle also adds standing the puppy properly on the table and does the first scissoring around the tail head and up the rump - as much to get the puppy used to the sound and feel of the scissors as because there is that much coat to scissor off. This is also when we try to take the first pictures of the puppies in a nice stance to send to everyone. This also helps to train the puppy for standing on the table which benefits when we do the conformation evaluations at 8 weeks of age. Puppies fearful on the table are very difficult to assess. This is also essential for miniature puppies that are going to be shown. It's very sad when a miniature is put on a table in the show ring for the judges inspection, and is fearful. Just minutes a day on a table, being encouraged to stand and be touched, can make a remarkable difference in just a week.
A Maddy x Calvin puppy at 6 weeks of age after her 2nd grooming
Six weeks is also when we remove the whelping box, as the mother now just gets in with the puppies about 4 times a day and either sits or stands to nurse them. She also starts to regurgitate her feedings for the puppies at this stage. The teeth are starting to come all the way in at this time, and the puppies will start sparring, and at times will really yelp. They learn at this stage not to bite each other too hard, and this is the first step to them learning not to bite humans too hard. We often have families who want to get their poodle puppies at this age, especially if they are going to training in agility. We do not allow any puppies to go to their new homes until they are 8-9 weeks of age, as we feel that they need the "sibling rivalry" stage to learn aggressive and defensive behavior - which is learned by their interplay with each other. Many of our poodles go to homes with runners, and I can't tell you how many times they have had to defend their owners from aggressive dogs of other breeds, and always successfully. You never know when your poodle may have to come to your defense, and the maneuvers they learn as puppies at this age are the foundation for their defensive techniques, increase their alertness, and the speed of their thinking and their reactivity time. I love watching the puppies develop their skills during playtime at this stage. It is their transition from infancy to toddlers. It is also at six weeks that we remove the whelping box replacing it with two small crates without the gates on. Our favorite crates are the Furrari's, as they just snap together, and the gates can be opened from either side and simply lifted off for this stage of training. The first night all the puppies will crowd into one small crate - then I will hear them in the middle of the night groaning and grumbling, and in the morning the puppies will be divided between the two crates. That day we add a third small crate, and go through the same process - which we repeat until there are two puppies per crate. We never put the gates on at this stage, just allow the puppies the freedom to sleep in or out of the crates, and to play with them.
Cindi with Cameo and the CM1 Puppies (x Kit) at 6 weeks of age.
We estimate that a poodle puppy develops 21 years in it's first year. From infancy to toddler, to preschool, to kindergarten, to pre-adolescent, to adolescent, to pre-teen, to teenager, to post teen, and early twenties. Their intelligence is equivalent to that of many humans, and the learning of human vocabulary in a standard poodle is amazing. They are a joy to work with and to train, many almost training themselves. At this point we start giving the puppies rawhide chew bones to help with their teeth cutting, the cardboard rolls from toilet paper, paper towels, tape rolls, and small boxes that they can pack around, tear up and destroy. Much like a toddler builds a stack of bricks and then knocks it down (destructive stage) so also does a puppy need to go through this stage. So we give them things that don't cost anything, that are light weight, and the right size around for a puppy jaw to pick up. They love it. We also start giving the puppies soft and hard toys to play with, and also try to observe which puppies in the litter are water lovers - they play in the water and empty the container almost as fast as we can fill it. We often get asked for puppies that like water by families that boat, or live on rivers or lakes, or on house boats. We start watching closely for the different types of personalities that the puppies have, how they relate to each other, to new situations, to new people, to other animals they come in contact with. Those that are more adventuresome, more curious, more courageous, etc. We are also watching for activity levels and how they move. It is also at 6-8 weeks that we take the puppies to the back yard to play - as they are then big enough to be taught to go up and down steps. We have closed back steps, and open backed steps (like condos and the steps at the air cargo depots) for them to learn on. This can be quite a challenge to some, and we usually have to delay this training with the miniatures for a couple of more weeks when they are a bit bigger. They are so proud of themselves when they achieve success in going up and down the steps, even though it is just three steps - and will run up and down just for the joy of it. In the back yard they also learn to drink from an automatic waterer, so that they don't fear the hissing sound as it refills.
At 7 1/2 - 8 weeks we do the next grooming in preparation for the temperament testing and conformation evaluations. Having nice clean feet, faces, and tail head and rump helps us to evaluate the puppies much better, and they will score better when all can be seen and evaluated. We do not give the puppies any treats prior to testing, nor do we do any actual crate training (in closed crates). At this age the puppies get their first bath in the grooming tub with a harder spray of water instead of in the utility tub. The Force dryer is used for the first time, and the Andis or Oster clippers. This is also the clipping that helps us to determine the color that the puppies might end up as - blues and silvers are born black, silver beige and cafe-au-lait can be born very dark brown, light apricots that are going to cream out - we study the nose, feet, heels, and under the tail and neck for signs of color change.
Tasy x Promise Pup - Black - at 8 weeks! A Mandy x Sterling Pup - Silver - at 8 weeks.
(Silvers and blues are born black and change gradually - starting with the muzzle and feet)
We try to schedule temperament testing (16 tests) and conformation evaluations (a three page form using AKC breed requirements, International breed requirements, and Puppy Puzzle testing) at 8 weeks minus or plus three days, as this is the most accurate time for assessing conformation before the puppy starts its rapid growth spurts. This is at times a little early for temperament testing, however as so many families want their puppies at 8 weeks of age, it is necessary to do this before the litter starts to go to new homes. Often our entire litters are reserved before they are even born, or at least by the time they are 6 weeks of age, and this helps us to match puppies and their capabilities and personalities and temperament to the homes they are going into, especially the puppies that are shipped across the United States. This also means asking our prospective families for lots of details about their home style, their activities, other pets or animals in or around their homes, and what they want to do with their puppy as an adult. We also help families at this point to decide the best age of puppy to suit their lifestyle, as many families in todays age have difficulty getting the time those first weeks to house train a young puppy. We have a special program where we continue training the purchased puppy for up to 4-8 months of age for $30.00/week plus grooming ($30.00/mo for mini $40.00/mo for std). The weekly cost covers food, treats, training, vaccinations and wormings. We also board miniature poodles for $10.00/day (in our homes) and standard puppies for $12.00/day (alternating between in our homes and in the kennel - depending on who is in heat and/or who has whelped - or if we are crate training litters - there is only so much room in the house for crates!).
AY1 - Amy x Promise Litter and G2 - Ginger x Pierre Litter Playing on play structure.
Temperament testing is beneficial, although there are those that disagree. It is done in a strange place by a strange person. It's purpose is to note the natural instincts and adaptability of the young puppies, and our families have found our assessments to be pretty accurate as their puppies have developed. The disadvantage of testing at 8 weeks versus 12 weeks, is that puppies can be conceived over a ten day period. The gestation period is 60-63 days, with all of the body development being in the first 50 days, and the weight gain being in the last 10-13 days. If the bitch whelps according to the first puppy conceived, then the last puppy or puppies conceived may not have had much weight gain - however due to genetics it will not always be the smallest puppies. When we do temperament testing we also try to be aware of which puppies opened eyes first and last, which had teeth coming in first and last - as these can be indicative of which puppies in the litter are the oldest and the youngest - as the psychological development can also be different, with the thinking processes of the youngest not being quite as developed as the thinking processes of the gestationally oldest puppies. In temperament testing we are looking at social skills, inanimate object retrieving instincts, sensitivity testing, chase response, bird retrieving instincts, perseverance and motivation. These help to determine which puppies might be best suited as companions, service and therapy candidates, agility and obedience prospects, those with "bird" instincts, and very important today those with good search and rescue and tracking instincts.
G3-4 Ginger x Sunny Horizons Leo Liang during temperament testing - retrieving like a pro.
Conformation evaluations are where we literally take a puppies body structure apart and put it back together again - all on paper. We are looking for the few puppies in a litter that are the most correct by breed specifications in bone structure. These puppies are retained by us or may go to breeding/show homes, however often also go into homes where they will be used for endurance work - herding, hunting, search & rescue, tracking, agility. As companions for runners, horse back riders, hikers, bikers, etc. Most of our standard puppies, after 10 years of breeding are quite structurally correct - however we try to match structural correctness, temperament and personality to the needs of a family. To be a pick of the litter puppy it must score high in all three areas. At times a structurally correct puppy may not have the best temperament for competitive events, and a senior family doesn't need a puppy with a high working drive.
When we complete the testing we vaccinate each of the puppies and tattoo them with their individual identification number - that designates their dam, her litter number, and the number of puppy within the litter - in their left ear. This tattoo must be read and entered in the medical records of the puppy by the families veterinarian at the time of the "well puppy check" (within 10 days of receiving the puppy) for our 2 year from date of birth guarantee to go into effect.
As soon as the testing is completed we start crate training the puppies. The first night two puppies are put into a crate with the gate on, and given 3 small treats. They are cuddled before being put into the crate, and we use the "in" command which they are used to. When they are taken out in the morning they are hugged and cuddled again, and given their "go potty outside" command as we take them "out" the front door. The second night they are crated individually, and are also crated during the day for short periods of time, to get them used to taking "naps" in their crates. They are always given three tiny biscuits when we want them in their crates, and usually within three days they compete to see who can get in the crates first and turn around for their treats. Usually at this age the puppies will crate from approximately 10:00-11:00 PM to about 5:00-6:00 AM without having accidents in their crates, however I do get up in the middle of the night and let them out if someone gets really fussy. In hot summer weather they at times need out during the night to get a drink just as much as they need out to go potty. We always make their last soft feeding of the day by 5:00 PM, so that they have plenty of time to evacuate before bedtime. Remember poodle puppies are very smart, and if they get me up several nights in a row - I watch very carefully to see if they really needed to go - and if not they have just decided to get me out of bed for some extra attention and playtime - remember the pre-adolescent who wants another drink of water, etc. - at that time I stay in bed, and remind the puppies to "hush" "it's bedtime" and ignore them and go back to sleep. They will test their new families in the same way, and if they win they are ruling the family instead of the family ruling them.
Grand daughter Izabelle with AM2 Mandy x Gus puppies at six weeks of age.
At this point the puppies are ready to go to their new homes to families living locally, or those driving from other states to get their puppies. If they are flying we keep them for two more weeks - and ship when they are approximately 10 - 12 weeks old. This allows us to start travel training and leash training of the puppies, and allow them to develop better holding capacity for daytime crating before shipping. Also it gives us time to receive family t-shirts (worn until sweaty and placed in ziploc bags) to give to the puppies in their crates three days before shipping. Having items of clothing (which we tie into knots for a pillow or toy) allows the puppy to get used to it's new families scents, and helps it to adapt and bond much more quickly. It also gives us time to ship their puppy pack to them, before the puppy is shipped.
We follow up on our puppies for years, and encourage our families to keep in touch with us and contact us with any questions regarding nutrition, training problems or needs. We also board our own puppies back, which is wonderful as then we get to assess their development and personalities as adults. We have families now who purposefully plan their vacations for the Oregon Coast just so they can leave their much loved poodles with us - they come from as far away as Montana, Idaho, north eastern Washington, California, Utah, and of course the closer regions of Oregon and Washington. Unless we are expecting a litter imminently they get to come back and live in the house with us, and always enjoy playing with so many other poodles in our huge back yard, and side yard play areas. We also continue any training that is in progress on the younger puppies.
A Mandy boy at 15 weeks! A Lucy daughter at 1 year - sent by her family in Idaho
Many of our families also return with their puppies to take the one-on-one grooming classes with us - with Mishelle now being the primary instructor. Many of our families are now doing all of their own grooming, and even if they aren't have found the class very beneficial as they have learned what to expect from a good groomer. Many have returned for second and even third classes to learn advanced scissoring techniques, and several are now learning show grooming and handling from us as well. It's biblical that the older are to teach the younger - and we feel very strongly about this after not finding anyone willing to assist us when we first started out. We want those who have a true desire to become breeders of the poodles to start in the right way, learning to do the proper testing and research, taking part in genetic research projects, learn to groom their poodles properly, and to breed properly, caring for their whelping bitches and puppies correctly.
Left to Right: Cindi w/Cameo - Havelah w/Babushka - Robin w/Joy - Marlene w/Tia - Brenda w/Jenny - Hannah w/Daynee
After 10 years of breeding - April 2006 International Dog Show - a beautiful representation of the quality and temperament of Friendships Poodles!!
Mishelle should have been in the picture with "Eve" but was in the Show Ring with her instead. She groomed 14 standards and 2 miniatures for this show.
"Kit" and "Bear" were not included in this picture, as two of the girls were in heat, Cameo and Jenny are both 4 weeks along carrying "Kit" litters at this show
We love raising and training our poodle puppies - and we love placing them with loving families - and watching the development and bonding that comes to pass with the years. The poodle is a wonderful and unique breed - sharing life with it's family.
A Friendships or Horizons puppy brings Hope and Happiness and is a Friend for Life!!
In temperament testing a number