Author: Hugh Slaney vom Slaney-Vale
Placing Puppies: That Magic Date
Over time, opinions—as opposed to fact—on dates in the mental development of puppies seem to have taken on a life of their own. To the beginning breeder, intensified scrutiny of “The Rules” is normal and must be attended to in order to eventually be a seasoned breeder, and that will only come through dedication to the cause.
What cause, one may ask? The cause of breed betterment of course.
Breed betterment goes beyond sire and dam selection. What about the puppies? Does the sky fall on those fine and well-planned puppies if new homes aren’t found by that magical “Day 49”?
Hardly. This is where the plan comes into play, where their current daily and ongoing “socialization” is clearly understood, as opposed to simply “bonding” with the eventual owner and friend of each of those puppies. Bonding and “environmental influence” will be the lot in life and the pleasure of the new owner. BUT…Back to that familiar phrase, “Breeder Responsibility”.
After all the investigations of genes, rearing and testing of the prospect, confirmation of breeding quality, selection of a mate, and eventual union of the two, comes that big day when the results of all that sincerity, those hopes and dreams, and that desire to contribute to the breed, exhibit themselves as “living things”—whelping day—that beautiful point in time which will forever be imprinted on the Ahnentafel of those newborns.
Those first minutes and hours of the first week will be crucial. Scrutiny is needed of weight gains, tail dockings, normal digestion, rotation feedings if the litter is large, breast normalcy of the mother, warmth consistency of the whole litter, cleanliness of the whelping box—all important and all part of “Breeder Responsibility”. Once you help that fine litter successfully through the entire first week, you’ve cleared hurdle number one.
If you are lucky and on the prescribed “ready date” the puppies all have new owners, that is great. But if they don’t, the sky will not fall. However, this is when “Breeder Responsibility” kicks in ten fold.
There is the easy route: keep them clean: take them all out together: have things hung up for them to play with: keep them safe from harm. Seemingly a good plan maybe, to the new breeder, but it’s missing a crucial element, “individualism”. The pups left over MUST be separated, never kennelled together. The breeder must prompt individual socialization. Pups left over, kennelled in a group, kept clean but in a pen where they wait for a new owner who will hopefully come, will go behind mentally every day they are kept in this way. It will be hugely time consuming for a breeder, but we must remember, that sire and dam did not make their own choice to be bred. A person made that choice. And that choice carries on at least to that special and wonderful day when that special puppy is placed in the arms of its new friend for life.
Yes, there is an ideal time when a puppy should come into a new home. Yes, mental development does take place in levels and stages. This has been studied and tabled time and again by many. There can be debate whether it’s day 49, 56, or 63, with the strongest opinions probably coming from those who have read but not experienced. That is not the purpose of this article. Breeder responsibility is the purpose.
The fact is, a breeder can have half the litter left over, but if he’s prepared physically, mentally and financially, it does not matter. “The Plan’s the Thing”. If you separate those puppies, give each one its proper amount of time every day, give each one its proper amount of varied exposure each day, give each one its proper amount of love and affection each day, no harm will come to those puppies. Yes, they will begin bonding with the breeder. But most importantly, they are having their minds primed to continue learning and they are seeing the outside world—trips to the mall, downtown, fields, vehicles, crowds. This must take place, and as the new owners surface and each little one finds its new home, the “Responsible Breeder” will achieve that well deserved reputation of Sincerity. But it won’t be done by letting those puppies sit in a pen, in a pack, waiting for that new home. Then the sky falls—individualized aggression, shyness, barking, lack of cleanliness, low people association. On and on…
So then: is Day 49 a magic day? It could be: but then again, it’s only a mark in time: A Responsible Breeder can override any magic day, as every day is important in a puppy’s life of individualism and development while it is under the wing of its temporary master, The Breeder, “its Breed Custodian”.
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