PUPPY RAISING & SOCIALIZING AT SPRING CREEK
SCL has been breeding and raising Labradoodles since 2001. Our opinion is that puppies should be raised with the sights and sounds of a typical home from day one, since it is typical homes our puppies go to, as well as be exposed to as many varied sights and sounds as possible. Our puppies are born in our bedroom. A quiet and safe environment for mama to feel secure in is extremely important. A stressed mama releases stress hormones and her milk is affected, which affects babies. The stress hormones pour through the milk to babies resulting in higher stressed dogs as they mature. It is amazing how stress can negatively impact the development of puppies in so many different ways. At SCL we keep our mama’s feeling secure and safe while babies are young, and having them birth in the quiet of our bedroom is the way we make sure this happens. We do not allow other dogs into the room, or other people into the room. A mama feeling a threat will quickly jump up and can unintentionally step on and harm, or kill, a newborn puppy. All of these reasons and more are why our pups are born away from the traffic of the rest of the house and in a place mama can relax in and feel safe in. During these first couple of weeks puppies are handled daily for short periods of time so that too much stress isn’t put on them. We weigh them daily, check their identifying tags, change bedding, clip nails, etc. Just enough handling that they become used to us, but not so much that they are put under negative stress.
Once puppies are about 3-4 weeks old, we move them from our bedroom to our media room, which is just off our family room. The sights and sounds puppies are exposed to increase, but we are still able to control the degree of stress to mama and not have her and babies right in the middle of where people are coming and going through the main part of our home. Like most families, we have people in and out all the time, but we do not want mama feeling strangers are a threat, and we do not want visitors feeling they can handle puppies just because they are in the middle of our home. We control the exposure puppies have at this age and introduce them to things carefully. We want every experience to be a positive one. We want them to be safe from disease and bacteria others may bring into our home. They are introduced to toys and kiddie slides, a potty box is introduced, they begin eating mush, and they have much more people interaction with our family members or friends that have been taught how to properly handle a puppy, so the experience is positive for the puppy. They are exposed to a variety of musical instruments, as we are a musical family. They hear the radio, sometimes a movie on t.v., vacuum cleaners, dogs barking, and all normal household sights and sounds.
At about 5-6 weeks of age, puppies begin being introduced to the great outdoors. We have a wonderful outdoor play yard with artificial turf, play toys, wading pools, play houses, etc. Pups experience all sorts of new textures under foot, and have room to run and play. They are introduced to the potty box and puppy litter, and potty training begins. They are introduced to crates without doors and quickly learn to love them as a safe place. When weather does not allow for outdoor play, pups have a 12 x 12 indoor play area with much of the same types of toys and structures. During this time their exposure to outdoor things begins. Lawn mowers, goats, horses, cars, cats, chickens, etc. They are taken for walks in a puppy stroller. They visit the vet office. We increase their level of exposure as is positive for them and do everything we can to make sure they are well adjusted, relaxed, happy puppies.
In general, we follow a raising and socialization program designed to slowly increase the exposure and stress to puppy as they are able to cope with it in a positive way. Our goal is to provide families with puppies that have had the best start in life that we can possibly give them. Once they leave our care, it is necessary for families to be committed to continuing this positive exposure and socialization. The next few months are just as critical as the first two. Build on the foundation we started and you will end up with one of the most rewarding experiences and relationships with your dog.
IMPORTANT SOCIALIZATION INFORMATION FROM BIRTH THROUGH YOUR FIRST FEW MONTHS WITH YOUR NEW PUPPY
Studies have shown there are critical periods during a puppy’s development. What should you be doing for your puppy once he has joined your family to ensure you are providing the environment necessary to help your puppy be an outstanding companion? At Spring Creek, we are very careful to provide the appropriate socialization and experiences while raising each litter. It is up to every family to continue the careful raising of their puppy during the following critical periods after the puppy has left us. The 1st through 3rd period links are what we do while puppies are being raised by us. The 4th and following period links are what you should know and practice with your puppy once you have received him. The information found on the following links should be mandatory reading for every puppy owner.
1st Critical Period – http://www.britfeld.com/superdogs/1st.htm
2nd Critical Period – http://www.britfeld.com/superdogs/2nd.htm
3rd Critical Period – http://www.britfeld.com/superdogs/3rd.htm
4th Critical Period – http://www.britfeld.com/superdogs/4th.htm
5th Critical Period – http://www.britfeld.com/superdogs/5th.htm
Juvenile Period – http://www.britfeld.com/superdogs/juvenile.htm
Some veterinarians will discourage families from properly socializing their puppies by recommending keeping them at home until after their vaccinations have been completed to reduce the risk of exposure to parvo. It is very important to understand that the risk of parvo is much less than the risk of ending up with a puppy with very serious socialization issues that result in families choosing to give up their dogs later or even have them euthanized due to extreme fear and fear aggression issues. A few of the large guide dog organizations have done studies on the risks of parvo versus the risks of poor socialization and found the risk of parvo to be extremely low compared to fear and aggression issues that resulted from well intentioned people keeping their puppies secluded and isolated until vaccinations were completed. We do not encourage keeping your pup isolated, and we DO encourage as much safe socialization as you can find with your puppy in meeting other people and other dogs.
CHILDREN & PUPPIES
Many of our families want to raise their children with puppies. That is a wonderful and rewarding experience, but it does require a lot of work as well as require understanding what you need to allow and need to do in order to prevent problems from developing. Puppies will naturally test the people in their lives to figure out their order in their “pack”. This includes testing your children. How can you help your puppy and children get along and help your children know what is appropriate handling of a puppy? The info below is invaluable and every family with a child that wants to adopt a puppy should read these pages as well as talk about these things regularly with your children. If you are not supervising your children with your puppy, or if you are not requiring your children to handle puppy appropriately, you are almost certain to have issues develop.
GROWLING & NIPPING
You’ve just brought your sweet little puppy home and within a week or two you start to wonder if he isn’t aggressive. He growls and nips at you and/or your children. He grabs your pants and hangs on while growling. He growls when you try to take something from him. And, you start to wonder if he was the dominant one in the litter. You are sure you are doing everything right and that there is just something wrong with your puppy.
Occasionally growling and nipping can be a sign of an aggressive puppy, but 99% of the time what you are sure is puppy aggression is in reality normal puppy behavior. ALL puppies growl, nip, and bite. It’s how they communicate with each other, and how they are attempting to communicate with you. It’s how they play with each other. A puppy doesn’t know any better and it’s up to YOU to help him understand what is appropriate and acceptable for how to express himself without using his teeth on you.
If children are involved in your home, you should not expect a puppy to respect your child, and it will be up to YOU to supervise and make sure you intervene if a puppy growls or nips at your child. Children are not capable of correcting a puppy in an appropriate manner, and if you tell your child to correct puppy, you will likely make the problem worse. Since puppy knows your child does not have the same authority as you do, they will almost certainly react to being corrected by them and growl or nip or bite even more. Please remember that growling and nipping are normal ways for a puppy to communicate, and they aren’t trying to be aggressive, they are simply trying to communicate. They see your children as equals and they are treating them as they would another puppy in their litter.
As a puppy enters the juvenile stage, It is PERFECTLY normal for them to test their boundaries more and more, and to test you. Don’t your children do the same? Why would you expect anything different from your puppy? He is not a stuffed animal and he does have a mind of his own. Like your teenage child, a juvenile puppy wants to explore their limits and it can be frustrating. Growling and nipping can increase during this time, if you haven’t already been working on establishing proper behaviors and communicating properly with your puppy what is acceptable. Growling and nipping that is part of the normal communication process for a puppy CAN turn into very concerning behaviors if you do not know how to communicate with them properly.
It’s critical that you learn the following:
- How to recognize normal puppy behavior and understand how they communicate.
- How to train properly using rewards and keeping training fun.
- Recognize when a puppy is being over stimulated and needs some “chill out” time from playing.
- Understand methods for correcting behavior that will not result in your puppy challenging you further.
- Always have a calm and confident attitude.
If you have read this and are concerned you may not know how to properly deal with normal growling and nipping, then you need to get professional help involved with you and your puppy as soon as puppy is in your home. If you hire a trainer after you’ve received your puppy and are dealing with some behaviors you aren’t sure how to handle, you should see an immediate improvement in the behaviors. If you do not, then look for another trainer immediately. Not all are created equal and a trainer who knows what they are doing will absolutely be able to help you train your puppy, identify problems, and know how to resolve them when they come up. If problems are not being resolved, it’s time to look for a different person. We personally highly recommend hiring a behaviorist to help you with training, not just a normal dog trainer. There is a BIG difference between a trainer and a behaviorist and their knowledge is extremely helpful and useful, especially when it comes to working with normal, but problematic behaviors.
QUALITY DOG FOOD
It very important that you feed your Australian Labradoodle puppy a quality food. All foods are not created equal. Many of the ingredients used in dog foods are fillers that have been shown to be the very reason that so many pets are developing diseases that shorten their life span or make their quality of life less than desirable. Do you really want to feed your dog these foods?
We have researched dog foods, and have found that there are companies using high quality human grade, holistic ingredients. Foods that are not made with fillers and poor quality ingredients, but foods that will contribute to helping your dog live a long and healthy life. There is an excellent article about dog food from the Animal Protection Institute called, “What’s Really in Pet Food” for those who want to read more about this.
Also, the Whole Dog Journal magazine reviews dog foods annually and recommends those foods they have found to contain high quality ingredients and foods that have eliminated low quality ingredients. These foods do cost more, but you feed less as your dog’s digestive system absorbs more of the nutrients. You usually see less stools as well. The cost of the food may initially seem high, but remember that you are feeding less than you would if you were purchasing a cheap grocery store food. It usually works out to be about the same per meal, even when you do feed the better quality, nutrient rich dog food. Your dog is a loved family member and deserves to be fed a quality food that will keep him in good health for a very long time.
FEEDING, TRAINING & PUPPY DEVELOPMENT
All of our adopting families are provided a very detailed and thorough packet of information at the time their puppy is born so they have time to read and prepare for their new puppy. The packet includes detailed sections on feeding your puppy, your puppies daily schedule, potty training your puppy, crate training, introducing your puppy into your new home and to other dogs, behavioral & obedience training, information on “fear periods”, and much, much more! If you are one of our adopting families and are on a reservation list for a puppy not yet born and would like this information packet sooner, just give us an email and we will send it to you so that you have even more time to prepare for your puppy! We know it’s an exciting time and we want to do everything we can to help you as you get ready for your new puppy.
PUPPY CARE AT A GLANCE DOCUMENT – Quick “cheat sheet” of things to remember when caring for your puppy.
Click this link: Puppy Care At A Glance
VACCINATIONS – RECOMMENDED PROTOCOL
We highly recommend that you educate yourself about vaccinations before simply following a suggested protocol from your veterinary clinic. These documents explain a bit about vaccinations and risks and offers a suggested protocol from Dr. Dodds, who studies vaccinations extensively.
GROOMING YOUR LABRADOODLE
Our Grooming Your Labradoodle page is full of helpful information on how to care for your doodle’s coat at home.
FLEAS & FLEA PRODUCTS
Fleas are a nasty pest that can make your life and your dog’s life miserable! What should you be aware of regarding chemical products and treating your dog? What is safe? What natural preventatives and treatment can you use? Read our flea information document for answers to how to keep your dog flea free in a healthy way. FleasAndFleaTreatment
“The Dog Listener” by Jan Fennell This is a must read by every puppy family!
“How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves” by Sophia Yin, DVM This is a must read by every puppy family! http://springcreeklabradoodles.com/dr-sophia-yin/
“The Other End of the Leash” by Patricia B. McConnell Ph.D.
“The Culture Clash” by Jean Donaldson
“The Power of Positive Dog Training” by Pat Miller
“The Dog’s Mind: Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior” by Bruce Fogle, Anne B. Wilson