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I am looking for info about rearing a litter, if Gemma has pups, they would be the breeder's litter but due to several things I will be whelping and raising them here. I've read lots of info and ideas from Belgian litters and wonder if GS breeders do similar things or have other ideas.

First I've heard of lots who 'litter train' from about 4 weeks. They use the bottoms of like rabbit cages, spread wood chips or pellets nad puppies go there to relieve themselves there by keeping floors and beds clean. Also used to train to use a specific yard area later.

Also heard about introducing smells, cold, hot, upside down etc to pups before the eyes open. Then using different sounds and sights. Also using obstacles and uneven footing and different footing textures. Also any agility equipment or ideas. I am looking for ideas as I have no agility equipment, what type of things do you use, at what ages are they brought out. We will be using balls with bells in to encourage chasing and of course tug toys and rags.

Any ideas are most appreciated, this litter will be raised to the best of my ability, if it actually happens and she is pregnant, Thanks
 

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My dogs start going through a doggie door at about three weeks old. I am not expecting them to be potty training at this point, but this is their outdoor area:


The field there is completely fenced, and I will take them through there to a day pen out front, but I have to be right with them out there:

Yes, I use a tunnel, and the two halves of a crate for the puppies as well as a cot:




At first the inside area includes the whelping box and a good portion of the room, but then I cut their inside area down:


Six weeks (note newspapers):


By eight weeks, their inside area is reduced to a 4x4 whelping box, which they do keep pretty much clean (note: no newspapers).
 

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I do not sell them, with the idea that they are house trained. But people generally find it very easy to house train them because they have a foundation, and the idea to go outside. But they take themselves there whenever they want.
 

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Selzer, the only inside time your puppies have until 8 weeks is in this little box? :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
thanks so much Selzer, that is exactly the info I was looking for. I have seen boards running across to crates and ramps, but will have to find a tunnel or something to turn into a tunnel. My pups won't have a doggie door, they will be born in the dining room so will have an area to use there for a bathroom, but I will have a large run outside, for when I am not 100% watching and the yard, totally fenced, for when i am 100% watching. I plan on making "fun" areas in each, as well I plan on bringing 1-2 ata time into the living room and the rest of the house, doing some juggling and lone time so they don't always depend on the whole litter. If there are pups I will not know until I xray I guess, too many think they are expecting, then they aren't and she hasn't changed to me yet so I won't know..I just want to do the very best I can.
 

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so, the breeder is letting an inexperienced person
raise a litter. why??

it's your dog and you don't know whether she's pregnant
or not???

I am looking for info about rearing a litter, if Gemma has pups, they would be the breeder's litter but due to several things I will be whelping and raising them here. I've read lots of info and ideas from Belgian litters and wonder if GS breeders do similar things or have other ideas.

Any ideas are most appreciated, this litter will be raised to the best of my ability, if it actually happens and she is pregnant, Thanks
 

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doggiedad, I've owned and trained dogs for more years than I want to mention, have had 2 litters, an oops and an on purpose, but both were about 30 yrs ago or more and I sure didn't know what I know now. The breeder lives 6 hours away, she is currently in a wheel chair. The agreement we entered into when I got Gemma was she got a litter back and she would do all, but since then things have changed so she will come here, whelp the litter, and then go home, we will then get together and move pups when they are old enough. BUT in the mean time I do want to do it right. She has given me lots of ideas and support but I wanted to pick the brains of even more people so i could adapt to the very best.

I know Gemma was bred twice, I know the dates, and I know she hasn't changed much. She would be 4.5 weeks, and no i don't know if she is pregnant or not, and I am told lots of breeders can't tell for sure this early. I did ask the vet and they said not to worry yet, so we are living normal and waiting to see. How early can you tell if a dog is pregnant?? and how do you tell that early??

Also the Belgian people may do things differently and that is what I was wondering, I have been in contact for so long with their puppy raising and I wondered if GS where the same or if different stuff was done. I'd hate to raise them to think they are big Belgians, hahahahahh
 

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If 4+ weeks since breeding you should start seeing changes very soon. She's also far enough along to do an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy and get a rough count of pups, which is what I'd do.

The early stimulation stuff you're inquiring about is the Biosensor/Superdog program of early neurological stimulation. A lot of breeders do it, or at least a version of it, and we always have as well. Does it help? Who really knows. But it certainly doesn't hurt and the scientific principles behind it are sound. Though the key is to expose them to mild stress, but not too much stress, so it's important to not overdo it. Definitely a case of where the program says 3 seconds, 5 or 10 seconds is *not* better.

Carmen Battaglia's article describing this is all over the internet. Here's one website with it:
Early Neurological Stimulation, Tehillah German Shepherd Dogs

Ian Dunbar's rules of 8 (another you can find by googling) has some pretty good guidelines as well. It is important to get them on different footing surfaces, exposed to different sounds and smells and textures and locations. Puppy obstacle courses, mini agility courses, wobble boards, stairs and other challenges like that when they get a bit older are great too. Just be careful not to overdo it or throw anything at them that is beyond their age and ability to handle because experiences should be positive, or at most very slightly stressful and easy for them to work though. Don't want to traumatize them.

We do the litterbox thing. It does definitely help, both with the pups learning to discriminate potty areas, and just with cutting down the mess. Their indoor area is divided. A litterbox area and then another area with blankets on the floor where they eat, sleep and play. We used cedar chips for years, but with our last litter after a couple different breeders recommended it we tried a pelletized horse stall bedding product called Equine Fresh and did like that stuff a lot better so will probably continue to use that instead of the chips in the future.

Some pics of the indoor set up:



We also have a doggy door into an outdoor kennel and before long they start going out there for potty breaks too. The door isn't always open as we close it at night for the first few weeks until we know they can see and navigate well enough to find their way back inside when it's dark, and also keep it closed if the weather is really nasty.

We start crate training before they go to their new homes as well, and that really helps.

We have an article on our website that provides a bit more detailed overview of how we raise our pups, so you might get some ideas from that too:(Wildhaus Kennels Raising Working German Shepherd Puppies)
 

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Are you getting an ultrasound to confirm at this point? If not, then you mentioned an xray to count. I have had xrays done on both litters I have whelped and neither gave me the correct number. So if I breed again, not wasting my money on them. You will want to start taking her temp a week out from her due date. I found a great chart online that I printed out from a breeder. I have 'potty trained' my pups also. I use a litter box made for dogs, by Natural Balance. They have them at country max. I just use shavings in it and a litter scoop. There is also a breeder that has how she potty trains her pups information on line as well. They are naturally trained, you will see at about 3 wks they move away from mom and go potty. Just build on that natural instinct, makes clean up much easier. You can also purchase a CD for puppies that has tons of different noises to desensitize them. Any stimulation isnt going to be detrimental to them, I would think the more positive experiences they have, the better adjusted they will be. Make sure to get them trained for nail trims too.
 

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Thank you so much Chris and Dawn, I am so glad to read that others use the litter box technique, i will also follow several of your rearing ideas Chris. I am home all day so will have lots of time to play, socialize and observe the pups. I don't want to screw up this litter and want the very best for them.

I will probably not ultra sound as it was suggested xrays would be a better idea of numbers and that is what the breeder prefers. She has gotten a wee bit thicker in the abdomen, and has had a few days of not feeling well so i do believe she might be, and I don't want to be unprepared, so by asking now and preparing anything I could need now I won't be shortchanging this litter.
 

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There is another option rather than an ultrasound. You can have your vet draw a blood sample for a relaxin level. Relaxin is the hormone/chemical that increases as the uterus prepares for a litter and I have used this blood level as an indicator of pregnancy as early as 30+ days. It has been accurate every single time for me. In addition, the last ultrasound that I had performed was two hundred dollars and the relaxin level was about eighty dollars.

X-rays are not very accurate until about 55 days gestation as the skeletons need to calcify in order to show up on the film. I generally do an x-ray around day 58 to 60 so that I know what to prepare for when I am whelping. I find that this helps in the middle of the night when I need to know if the mother is finished or still has another puppy or two to bring forth. They can miss a puppy if it is hiding near the liver or is obscured by bowel loops, but I find that this is a good tool to have had done when whelping.
 

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Selzer, the only inside time your puppies have until 8 weeks is in this little box? :eek:
Danielle, How about showing some pictures of how your litters are raised.
 

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Trudy, I have used cedar chips and pups have learned right away -- 3-4 weeks to trot back to that area to potty.


Be careful what kinds of equipment you put in with them. They are fearless and will walk off a cliff if you let them. The crate halves help them get used to crates and give them caves -- they like that. They do climb on things, and it is sometimes challenging to keep them from hurting themselves within reason.

Tunnels provide shade:


Don't forget socializing them, (excuse to show off my nieces):


 

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Danielle, How about showing some pictures of how your litters are raised.
Unlike some other breeders, I know that I do not have the means or time to rear a litter of puppies. I leave that to people that know what they are doing. Unfortunately, there are many less than stellar breeders out there also. :(

I can guarantee you when I DO breed, which I will do in the future, my puppies will not be confined to a 4' x 4' area with no socialization inside a real home until they go to their owners. I strongly agree with Ian Dunbar on this topic.
 

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Unlike some other breeders, I know that I do not have the means or time to rear a litter of puppies. I leave that to people that know what they are doing. Unfortunately, there are many less than stellar breeders out there also. :(

I can guarantee you when I DO breed, which I will do in the future, my puppies will not be confined to a 4' x 4' area with no socialization inside a real home until they go to their owners. I strongly agree with Ian Dunbar on this topic.
So, you really have nothing to contribute to this thread.
 
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