We try and make the experience of taking your puppy home as easy as possible, and from before they are born we’re making sure they are as healthy and settled as possible. Mum is on a high protein food during her third trimester and having daily doses of Panacur which is a worming solution that protects the puppies.
We have a large whelping box that we keep in a quiet room in our house where Mum sleeps a couple of weeks before her due date so that she sees it as a safe environment. After the puppies are born, we name, weigh and measure them all and put small whelping collars on so we can track who is who. We have a supply of puppy milk ready in case any are struggling to feed (thankfully very rare!)
Weeks 1 and 2
We weigh and measure them daily. At this point they’re blind and deaf and are totally reliant on Tallulah who is with them all the time feeding them constantly. At the end of week two the puppies have their first dose of worming solution (which is so difficult to administer and involves 2 adults, 3 children and a syringe). Usually at this point they have all been sold, so we send pictures and videos every couple of days to their new owners. We don’t allow anyone else to handle them at this point, but they are regularly handled by us and our children throughout the 8 weeks we have them, so they’ll be well socialised (and used to cats as well as we have three).
The puppies are always left with Mum between 10pm and 7am in a dark room with no other interaction – we’ve had feedback that they have subsequently settled well in their first weeks at their new homes and we try and keep them in this routine for the whole 8 weeks we have them.
Weeks 3 and 4
We start weighing them weekly at this point and they start to move around and try walk. Their eyes start to open too and they become more playful with each other. They get wormed again at the end of week 4. Slightly easier this time as we can mix it with puppy milk but still very time consuming. If you’re able (COVID-permitting) to come and visit then you can handle them from this point.
Weeks 5 and 6
This is the fun part – they’re starting on solid food and start to develop personalities. They’re still in with mum, who tries to escape a lot because they climb all over her and chew her ears. We start to put newspaper down in one part of their box so they can start to learn where to go to the toilet. We get them microchipped at this point too. We transfer the chip over to the new owner just before collection with all the paperwork. They’re wormed again at the end of week 6. Super easy this time as we mix with their food and it disappears in a matter of seconds.
The puppy is being fed three meals a day (approx 8.00am, 12.00pm, 6pm) now and we would advise to try to keep the puppy in the same routine for at least until they are 12 weeks old. After that time until they are five months old they can be reduced to two meals a day. They have access to fresh water at all times.
We have found in the past that new owners prefer to have their puppy on food that they have provided. We use a high protein puppy food from a local country store and will provide a small bag to go with them – but because a puppy can get diarrhoea and bloat when their food is changed, most seem to prefer to provide food so that it’s one less thing that’s a change for the puppy when it comes home.
Week 7 and 8
They are really hard work at this point – imagine having one puppy and multiply the chaos by 7. They inevitably learn to climb out of the box and go explore the room they’re in. They chew everything. Food disappears in seconds. Mum is constantly trying to escape the whelping box for a lie down on the other side of the box for some peace and quiet.
Just before they turn 8 weeks we take them to our vets for a check up and first vaccinations and we give them their final worming dose.
We recommend that new owners take their puppy to their own vets soon after purchase, for a general health check and advice on inoculations and worming.
We will confirm which vaccination our vet uses and ask the new owners to confirm that their vets uses a compatible product. Assuming your vet has the same brand, we will get the its first vaccinations just before they turn 8 weeks and their second is due 4 weeks later. If they are not compatible, we recommend taking the puppy for its first vaccination as soon as you take it home, or they will have to start afresh.
Specifically on worming – after you take them, the puppy will need worming every four weeks until six months old, then every three months. Advice from your vet will give you information on which types of wormers to use.
At this point they get tired quickly and we let them out to run around inside a couple of times a day. They tend to crazily run around for about 20 mins then collapse with exhaustion and sleep for ages.
A week before they are due to be picked up, mum leaves them and goes back to her normal life without a backward glance. For the last week, they’re on their own – we’ve found that this makes them less anxious when they leave as they’re already used to not being with her. Then with a couple of days to go before collection, the puppy is moved from the large open wooden box into a crate. We usually keep them in pairs and ask the new owners to bring some blankets or toys we can put in with them. This means they get used to not being in a big pack and hopefully are more settled when they come home.