YY Litter Week 4 Enrichment Experiences 2

YY Litter Enrichment Experiences, page 2

Day 4:  25 Days Old (5/3/23)  

Today’s Enrichment Experience encouraged problem solving.  I try to give the pups occasional frustration exercises to teach them about “real life,” that things won’t always be easy in the beginning and that they have brains to figure out how to get what they want.  I cut holes in two boxes to provide escape routes for the pups when I put them in the boxes.  Their lesson today is not to sit complaining at the top of their voice but to look around for an escape route, preferably through the holes.  I put the removed cardboard pieces on the floor in a pile for some unstable footing.  Mr. Blue obligingly went out a hole the first time, but after that tried to climb over the edge and ended up tipping the box on its side.  I didn’t have any big boxes, so I took another box and taped up the flaps rather than cut them off.  Lovely had by that time moved to the whelping bed and I got some neat photos of her watching him figure out how to leave the box and go to her.

Mr. Purple didn’t even try to get out of that box; he just curled up and went to sleep. 

I also put down a big branch so they could investigate the texture of the bark.  They found it interesting but not riveting, evidenced by Mr. Red curling up on it to nap. 

He had already provided light relief this morning.  As I introduced puppies to the boxes, he was having a great time lying on his back – demonstrating the “Irresistible Pose” that his great-great-great-great-grandmother, Glory, was famous for. 

I call it that because no human who has ever seen any of my dogs doing it can resist giving tummy rubs, which of course is what they want. So, naturally, I quit photographing several times to give Mr. Red a rub.

Day 5:  26 Days Old (5/4/23) 

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.  Today is “foot and frustration” day for enrichment exercises.  

I had some bubble wrap which provided another experience of walking on unstable surfaces this time also of hearing weird “pops.”  The bubble wrap only pops as I walk across it since the pups are still too light to do any bubble popping.  I put one piece of bubble wrap between the towel holding the newspapers on the board and the fleece pad by the gate.  I spread others elsewhere around the room.  I also put down two Styrofoam pieces that we use in beginning clicker-training classes when we’re teaching dogs to freely offer behaviors.  That will give them an experience of stepping up and walking on top of and over something. 

I attached sections of ex-pen to the uprights on table and whelping box so they’d stay securely in place and create see-through barricades.  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 took a few photos of the room setup before I went to get the puppies, a good thing because, as I brought the pups in by twos, Lovely insisted on lying on the little fleece pad by the gate and nursing them – absolutely no way to take photos.  I left them to sleep for an hour before fixing their lunch. No use taking it in just for them to sleep through it. 

Day 6:  27 Days Old (5/5/23) 

Today’s enrichment experiences worked on hind-end awareness.  Training agility for so many years, I saw many dogs having trouble learning to navigate obstacles because they had no idea where their hind feet were.  It’s far easier to teach pups to pay attention to where all 4 feet go than to teach an adult, so this became a priority in how I raise my pups.  Many Search & Rescue handlers have told me how they took a pup from here to a group training session and were amazed at how quickly the pup figured out how to handle rough country.  Today obstacles included three long cardboard rolls that rolled.  Next I put down an old freezer tray and the sled I use to haul sacks of birdseed over the snow to the storage cans in the back yard.  Lastly, I put out 3 rubber horse feed bowls that I use for water in the puppy yard.  Since they’ll start spending time in the puppy yard tomorrow, I’m hoping exposure to the water bowls will help them find them scattered in the yard as they start exploring. 

I think Miss White must have eaten a huge breakfast because she slept through most of the photography session, first by the water bowls.  I eventually put her in the sled and she quickly went back to sleep with her head draped over the edge. It sure didn’t look comfortable but she never moved.

The pups definitely enjoyed the sled.  I caught several trying their teeth on the edges.  The age of sweetness and innocence will soon be over.  Once they discover those teeth, they’ll use them on everything.  They are already grabbing my pant legs as I clean their room. 

I got some good photos of Mr. Purple and Miss Yellow having a mouth-wrestling session.

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