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How We Raise Our Puppies

A breeder's philosophy on how they rear their puppies says a lot about how their dogs turn out. At Peninsula Doodles we want to set our dogs up to succeed in life. What happens in the first 12 weeks of a puppy's life is incredibly important and can shape their future. As a breeder we have the opportunity to change the outcome of the puppy's life by what we choose to teach him. By doing the right things at just the right time, we can give your puppy the best start possible. 

Below you will see how the puppies in Jen and Phil's home are raised. Their litters are raised using the Puppy Culture Protocol.

What is Puppy Culture?

Puppy Culture is a program developed by Jane Killion, professional dog trainer and breeder. It is a comprehensive, organized program for breeders to follow during the first weeks of a puppy’s life. It provides in depth information from a leading team of veterinarians, behaviorists, and experienced breeders. The Puppy Culture includes early neurological stimulation, building emotional resiliency, potty training, problem prevention, and lots more! It is a tool that helps breeders raise well-socialized puppies with the fundamental skills to easily adjust & take their place in their homes. 

What That Looks Like

Below you will see what the first eight to twelve weeks of life looks like for our puppies.

Day 0-14:  The puppies find comfort in an in-home whelping box. They receive constant care and supervision. Puppies are weighed every morning to ensure that they are growing properly. At around day three we start using early neurological stimulation exercises to influence rapid neurological growth and development. It does not hurt at all, it mainly involves holding the pup in specific positions for 3-5 seconds. Essentially, it’s believed that this very early stimulation improves a dog’s performance as an adult, strengthens the immune system, and enables them to better handle stressful situations. A video about ENS can be viewed here. 


Day 14-21: This is an exciting time as the puppies are opening their eyes and starting to toddle around. It is crucial to us that we set our puppies up for success in every way possible.  During this window puppies will instinctively start leaving their nursing bed to eliminate. We want to try and curve this natural instinct by creating a separate potty area.  As soon as we see these signs of toddling, we change our setup into a larger area that has an area to sleep, and area to potty and an area to play. During this time we will be continue to implement the ENS exercises and regularly hold and pet the puppies.

3 Weeks Old:  Three weeks old is such a fun age. You may not think much can be done with such a small puppy, but that is not the case. Studies have shown that puppies at three weeks old have no fear. They do however have a strong startle reflex. Which means that this is a good time to start teaching them startle recovery.  Doing this at the proper age helps the puppy's fear response. They may still get startled but should adjust quickly and be willing to try new things instead of being overly nervous. This can include dropping a metal dish, vacuuming, sneezing, or just making an out of the ordinary noise. During this window we will also be spending one on one time with each puppy. This can help build a healthy bond with humans, and can help reduce separation anxiety later in life.

4 Weeks Old: At this age the puppies are starting to be more active and playful. They are eating real food, and mom has started to wean them. By this point we have removed the whelping box and provided the puppies with a much larger space. We provide toys and obstacles to encourage exercise throughout the day. We start introducing them to challenging things. They will have to problem solve and experience frustration but will learn from these experiences. During this time we will be working extensively on communicating with the puppies. The first thing we do is condition them to a training marker,  we use a clicker. When the dog hears the click they get a treat, at this point there are not doing anything. Next we will give them the opportunity to offer a behavior that they can be rewarded for.  An example is touching an object that has been set out. The puppy will start to associate touching the object or offering a behavior leads to receiving a reward. The final skill we will ask for at this point is manding or asking for things. By default puppies mand by jumping or pawing at us. We want to teach them that if they want something they can ask for something or mand by sitting in front of us. To do this we will present a human to the puppy, when the puppy sits in front of the human they will be rewarded. This gives your puppy the opportunity to communicate as an early age. Puppies need to have a voice. 

5 Weeks Old: As the puppies approach 5 weeks of age they have now developed true fear responses. We use more caution in exposure to new objects and challenges.  During a fear imprint stage, a single event can actually effect them long-term. They begin responding to things with fear that they may have never been afraid of before. Because of our hard work in weeks previous, they have a stronger ability to recover from fear quickly. But during this sensitive time, we are watching closely for individual reactions so we know if we need to help a particular puppy overcome a fear stage of a particular sound, item, smell or texture. We also continue clicker training, practicing manding, overcoming obstacles, socializing with people and animals as well as potty training.

6-8 Weeks Old: This age is a puppies peak socialization period. They still have fear but it is not as high as the previous weeks. This is when we start having visitors over to socialize with the puppies. We will expose them to a variety of people.  At the end of this window we will be preparing our puppies for their new homes.  The puppies will experience their first car ride, they will have their first visit at the vet where they will receive their first set of shots and an exam. Their puppy bags will be packed and they will be ready to head to their new homes!

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