WW Litter at 4 Weeks Enrichment Experiences, page 2
27 Days Old 2/12/22
One thing the Puppy Culture materials urge breeders to do is to help the pups learn to handle frustration from an early age. A big suggestion is to have small barriers that the pups have to go over or around in order to get to their meals. The last time I ordered the new fleece pad, which is 5’ wide, I asked them to cut the extra foot off (my whelping bed is 4’ x 4’) before they shipped it. That 4’ x 1’ strip, rolled up and taped, made a nice barrier to try today. It almost (but not quite) separated the initial area from the newer area. There was a slight gap on one edge. Miss Pink immediately investigated, climbed over it and then back. Later today, I will position it at the entrance to the puppy box so all of them go over it a lot.
I also put a few small, soft toys in for them to mouth. It’s hard finding toys that the moms will ignore, but I have a few. Thursday, while we trimmed puppy toenails, Lovely “killed” one of the toys I put out for our photo session. My mistake, putting them down before we actually were in the living room. Miss Green was the only one still awake when I finished, and immediately began investigating the toys. I convinced the other two to wake up and leave the whelping bed. When they came within reach, I lifted them onto the other side of the fleece roll and watched them investigate it and then climb over. Miss Green and Mr. Purple decided to mouth wrestle, one on each side of the roll. Once awake, Miss Pink showed nice interest in the toys, while Mr. Purple was fascinated by the fleece roll. Eventually he began checking out the toys, too.
Since, when I took their lunch in, they were all lying on the little fleece pad, I put the bowls down in the far part of the room on the other side of the fleece roll. I called them and the pups headed towards the bowls. They halted at the fleece roll but eventually climbed over it to get to their food.
28 Days Old 2/13/22
Today they had serious frustration exercises. I took sections of an ex-pen to form barriers. Two sections closed off about ¾ of the opening to the bed. Two others blocked most of the way between the two halves of the room. These are great experiences because the pups have to figure out that standing, yelling, looking at the place they want to go does not do any good. It teaches them to turn on their brains, turn away from the desired destination (VERY hard for pups to learn) and walk along the barrier to the edge.
I got some cute photos of Mr. Purple chewing on the barrier before deciding to move to the opening.
They showed much stronger interest in the toys today and put their mouths on them, even chewing a bit and trying to carry them around. They particularly liked a red penguin.
So that the day wasn’t totally frustrating, I put down some new toys. Amazingly, the pups hadn’t worn themselves out totally so they started to play with the toys AND also went back and forth through them while I was taking photos. This bunch figured out how to go around to get where they wanted to go without a lot of fuss. Some litters yell a lot over this day’s adventure, but this is a pretty content bunch, probably because they aren’t having to compete for a position at the milk bar or their mother’s (or my) attention.