How We Raise Our Puppies

Our goal is to raise confident and stable bearded collies who are willing and able to do any job asked of them.  To that end, we use the Puppy Culture protocols to help support our puppies' development into smart, inquisitive little dogs.  This begins at 3 days old and continues into their socialization period with sound desensitization, socialization, puzzles and challenges, enrichment opportunities, and the beginnings of crate training, housebreaking and leash walking.  

Our own dogs are house dogs and family members first and foremost; the expectation is that the same will be true for our puppies, whether they go to show, performance or companion homes.  It's far more important to me that our puppies are loved, well cared for and trained than that they win some ribbon!  That said, I am always proud and happy to support homes who are interested in competing with their dogs and welcome your questions!

Astrid 2 days before she gave birth!

Birth - 2 Weeks

Puppies are whelped and raised in our home.  I use my office as the nursery and sleep in the room with puppies and mother for the first 3 weeks, then nearby in the guest room after.

Early neurological stimulation work begins at 3 days old and continues until puppies are 16 days old.  Nail trimming and dremeling also begins at 3 days and continues every 2-3 days until puppies leave for their new homes.

2-4 Weeks

As puppies begin to open their eyes and ears and stumble around, we start to work on their startle recovery, introducing novel objects to the whelping box as well as the litter box to begin potty training.  They also begin to get walkabout time outside the box, which they are rapidly trying to escape!

At 3 weeks puppies are still nursing but we also start introducing a goat milk-meat slurry for them to eat because they are growing fast!

4-6 Weeks

By 4 weeks, puppies have outgrown their whelping box and graduate into a larger weaning pen with more space to play and explore.  This pen continues to grow and change as they mature.

Throughout their time here, the puppies have many visitors for socialization, including small children where we can wrangle them.

We also provide a number of challenges and puzzles for the puppies.  New objects in the pen, surfaces that wobble and move, toys that make noises or bounce around, barriers they have to cross in order to get their food, and so on.

As soon as puppy eyes have adapted to light and the weather is compliant, we begin to take puppies outdoors as well - first just nursing with mom on the deck and then slowly getting to explore the kennel run and eventually the yard.

Puppies learn quickly, even at 4-5 weeks old - we begin to condition them to a clicker at this point.  They begin to learn to sit, play games, and walk on a leash.

Because they are bearded collies and will need lifelong grooming, we also begin working on the basics of combing and brushing plus bathing around 4-5 weeks old.

We wean onto a raw diet - meat mush and eventually bones (by 8 weeks they can easily chomp through a chicken wing!).  I also do add some kibble near the end to transition for homes that can't feed raw.

6-8 Weeks

At 6 weeks old, we hold a Puppy Culture puppy party where trainers work with each puppy on various puppy-sized obstacles.  It is a great socialization experience AND gives the puppies great confidence in trying new things.

By 7-8 weeks old we have a bunch of confident hooligans on our hands!  They certainly keep me on my toes.

We work to introduce puppies to crates before they go home.  They have a crate in their weaning pen from the time they are ~4 weeks old that they can choose to sleep in; later on, we feed in closed crates and they sleep in them at night to become accustomed to them.

Astrid's work doesn't stop at weaning; she thinks her puppies are great fun to play with and teach!