Here's a closer look at what we do in final preparation for the puppies' arrival.
About 2 weeks before a momma dog is due I bring her inside. I fix a whelping box or crate that opens into a puppy exercise pen with paper. If it's winter I include a special heating pad made for dogs so that the new pups don't get a chill if they are inadvertently pushed to the edge. This arrangement is placed in the nook between the kitchen and the den. This way we can keep a close eye on mom and babies and they are exposed to a variety of sights and sounds.
As far as the mom's preparation, she needs to bathed and have a hair cut (either partial on her underside, or a full clip). I check for fleas/ticks, deworm her and transition her to a high quality puppy food. Then we wait and watch!
When the puppies are born I help clean them up (assuming I'm home and it's not 3am). I put colored ribbons around their neck that coordinate with their birth order when possible. This helps me track the puppies' progress and makes it easy to monitor any concerns that may develop. Also, it helps later on with recognizing their unique emerging personalities and allows people to easily recognize which puppy they have picked.
Three days old is an important milestone in a puppy's life. At three days old they and their mother are dewormed again. They also go to the vet for dewclaw removal and tail docking. This is something I could do at home, but I like the idea of the vet handling them and giving them a quick check. Three days is also when we begin bio-sensor training. This is a program developed by the military in the 70's for the military police dogs. Basically, it's founded on the idea that there is a special window of time in a puppy's life that they are very sensitive and receptive to stimulation. Five simple exercises are performed for five seconds each on a daily basis on days 3 thru 16. They found that the puppy develops faster and stronger, but most importantly they are better able to handle stress as an adult, have improved health and therefore they live longer. While this program has been around 30+ yrs, it is not widely known. Here's a link for more info http://www.breedingbetterdogs.com/achiever.html or you can just Google a search for 'bio-sensor training' or ‘super dog training’.
At 3 weeks we do a deworming on the puppies and again on mom and repeat the deworming at 5 weeks. I use Panacur because it so safe and does not cause abdominal cramping. Then we give the first puppy shots at 6 weeks. I always, ALWAYS buy my shots from the vet so that I can be assured that they have been handled correctly.
After the initial vaccination the puppies start making short outings to the play pen in the yard both with and without mom to start getting use to being away from her. We also go for short drives and take them to the vet for a health check-up. However, we don't really wean them until 8 weeks. I feel they learn a lot of basic doggie manners from their mom during that extra 2 weeks. A lot of people wean at 6 weeks, and it IS a lot more work (did I mention they're in the kitchen all of this time?!?). There is also a lot more expense to keep them the extra 2 weeks, but it is so good for them physically and emotionally. They get a lot of exposure to different noises and environments as well as opportunities to interact with our other dogs, cats and even horses. Most importantly, every vet I've ever spoken with has strongly advised that the pups stay with their mom until 8 weeks - they have never suggested that there is ever a time when it is okay for it to be earlier.
When the time comes for the puppy to be shipped or picked up, I take them to the vet one last time for a health certificate. The health certificate is an official check-up for the department of agriculture for an animal to be transported across state lines. This is a very thorough exam that will be done within 10 days before shipping and includes mouth, eyes, ears, heart, respiratory and a check for parasites.
Occasionally someone needs me to keep a puppy a little longer than 8 weeks so that the puppy arrives at a time that coincides with a vacation time or special event. I don't mind doing that on occasion, and we even try to work in a few little extras like leash training and extra trips to the public along with the usual daily life in the country (think cats, horses, goats, etc).
Well, that's our 'puppy schedule'. Our puppies are just very nice all the way around and quite exceptional in their disposition. The moms are pampered and do not have more than 1 litter per year. I have a small kennel operation and it is rare to have more than one mom delivering at a time. This allows me to devote the time to them that they deserve. I believe all of these factors are why we have such healthy adults and puppies and why they are so well adjusted.
If there are any areas i haven't covered, please feel free to leave a comment for me or to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org