632 – Expert Tips for Expanding Puppies’ Minds

Expert Tips for Expanding Puppies’ Minds

Dr. Marty Greer, DVM joins host Laura Reeves for their ongoing conversation about raising puppies. This month they’re talking week four, when the puppies’ minds are exploding with new sensory input.

From Dr. Greer’s “Canine Reproduction and Neonatology”

“When the puppies first open their eyes, first open their ears, we should have gentle lighting, we should have gentle sounds,” Greer said. “We shouldn’t just have this loud TV with Rambo on. So, you know, things like just have the lights starting to come up, their vision isn’t great, their hearing isn’t great, but it went from almost nothing to something and so we want to ease them into that world.”

Four weeks is when many puppies are introduced to solid food. Mothers of wild canids vomit for their puppies as their introduction to solid food. Laura describes making puppy food the “consistency of dog vomit.”

Marty recommends shallow water bowls for puppies to prevent drowning hazards, as well as Lixit bottles for smaller breeds.

100 experiences in 100 days

“I try to do a lot of variation in the enclosure. I have a rabbit hutch that’s got a two story ramp on it so they can go in and out of doors and up and down the ramp. I have all kinds of little beds that have holes and places for them to go. Honestly the best toys are the kids’ toys that I pick up at garage sales. So you pick up, you know, baby walkers and all kinds of toys and they’re brightly colored and they’re hard plastic. They’re not durable enough for the aggressive chewer or adult dog. So you probably don’t want them in with mom if you’ve got a lab that eats everything, but they’re fun. They make interesting noise and you can do variability.

“I think both Sophia Yen and Ian Dunbar, veterinarians that talk a lot about behavior and development, talk about a hundred experiences in a hundred days.

“I have a series of 11 bath mats that are all different sizes, shapes, colors, textures. The mesh ones I put under the puppies when they’re really young because the urine runs through and so they stay dry. When you’re in that transition period between when mom stops cleaning them, that two to four week transition period when they start urinating on their own, they stay dry and it doesn’t soak into a pad directly on their skin so it’s cleaner and neater.

“And those again can go in the washing machine. But I went to Walmart during COVID and they had 11 styles of bath mats. They had some with bristles, they had some that were shiny, some with round holes, some with square holes, some were dark colored, some were light colored. Just this whole variety and again I throw them in my washing machine when they get soiled and then I hang them to dry. And I have two sets so that they can rotate through. And you’ve just given now a puppy 11 different surfaces, so of the 100 experiences you need to do in 100 days, you just did 10 percent of them, with a bath mat.”