Wilma managed to come in season, have sex with Fate behind my back, and start whelping pups before I realized what was going on! This either makes Wilma a sneaky genius, or me an idiot. I think I'll take the blame. But I'm going to share it with Fate!
I was out of town when she came in season, and came back with Fate to a jam packed long weekend before leaving again for a few more days, evidently at just the wrong (right?) time. Wilma always puts on weight easily, and I just thought it was time to put her back on a diet. Suddenly, pups! It has been over two years since Wilma's last litter, and I had no intention of breeding her again. As the saying goes, the best laid plans, etc!
How we raise our puppies
The quality of a puppy is determined by both genetics and environment. How they are raised before you ever meet them is a major influence! Lebec and l'Hermitage believe in several things:
1) Mom knows best. We don't try to override or interfere with a bitch raising her pups. We add the human element, but Mom is in charge. Unless health issues interfere, she has complete access to her pups from day 1 to the day they leave. At 3 weeks, we start adding our food to the puppies diet, but Mom is always allowed to feed as long as she wants. And she is in charge of discipline!
2) Socialization begins at birth. We handle all the pups daily. Once eyes are open, we try to introduce new items and experiences regularly. In raising pups, doing things "later" is too late. "Now" is always the right time. Visitors start young, with friends handling pups within the first week.
3) At 3 1/2 weeks, pups are moved into the puppy pen in the living room, with all the activity of living. Pups get turned loose several times a day to explore and broaden their world. The outside is added at about 4 weeks. The puppy pen has play and poop areas, to begin housebreaking. The play area is continually enhanced with toys, obstacles, and an environment to stimulate the puppies. Mom can hop in and out. The older dogs get to visit through the pen bars, and gradually get to meet pups in person.
4) Outside exposure to new places is the key. Starting at week five, we do field trips every weekend, to friend's houses, to puppy parties - anywhere a car ride and a new (safe) place can be experienced. We try for different surfaces, different ages of people, even different temperatures, at each new place. Thanks goodness for good friends!
5) We continually encourage visitors, be it the kids from around the neighborhood, prospective buyers, friends - anyone we can get! The more people the puppies meet, the better.
6) Starting at 7 weeks, pups are fed in crates to prepare them for new homes. They spend several nights in their crates before leaving, giving puppy buyers a head start on house training.
7) Puppy buyers are provided with a long document giving our take on raising Briards, a puppy crate, collar and leash, a scented toy, and ready access to us for help and advice at any time. Pups are microchipped before leaving.
Pups from Lebec and l'Hermitage are raised with love and experience - it's a winning combination.