This year's litter occurred a month later than last year's (whelping in September instead of August). Because we live in Pennsylvania, those few short weeks make a difference in how much we can take the pups outside.
Initially I honestly didn't think it would make that much difference (we've been known to have heat waves in October), so I planned on introducing the pups not just to the outdoors on the deck, but to grass and water and the kiddie pool and brick pavers and... well, you get the idea. Just as we did last year.
But this year it's been cool. We've even had three frosts already. And daylight hours are much shorter.
By the time the pups were big enough to introduce to the great outdoors (we wait until they're between four and five weeks old), it was way too cold and wet to take them.
Except yesterday. Ahhhh... yesterday turned out to be gloriously sunny, and the temps reached the low 60s (F) by late afternoon. That was warm enough to give it a try.
The following videos capture the pups literally seconds after I set the last one into the pen. You'll see that first they're cautious (this is a new experience for them), and then they begin to explore. And then they just have fun.
You may also notice various sounds (some planned). The pups alerted to birds really well (I was surprised at how well, actually). They seemed completely unperturbed by the tractor (DH was cutting the grass -- that's the constant hum you hear in the background). The tractor did backfire once, and that startled them for a moment, but they recovered quickly and without incident (bodes well for the pups who will be introduced to hunting). The rest of the sounds (airplanes overhead, traffic out on the highway, trucks downshifting, the neighbor's dog barking, children calling, crows cawing) didn't phase them one bit.
The idea here, other than exposing the puppies to sun and wind and shadows and various textures under their feet, is to also expose them to sounds they'll hear in their new homes. We humans are oblivious to the noise surrounding us everyday, but these babies are brand new to the world. Acclimating them to sounds helps them prepare for their futures. It builds their confidence, security, and ability to interact in healthy ways in their worlds.
In addition to sounds, the idea is also to expose them to various problem-solving situations. The canine hammock (the green-fabric-covered frame) and the aerobic-step-exercise riser (purple base, light-blue top) present new challenges: how to get up on them, how to climb over the riser, how to crawl under the hammock, how to get a toy that's place underneath or on the other side).
Many of these skills will come naturally to the pups, but if we can expose them to these challenges now, their transitions later on will be that much less stressful for them.
So yes, the great outdoors is a fun adventure for them, but it's also a planned learning experience (we really do have method to our madness!). ;o) Remember, the pups have never faced these things before in the tiny world of their indoor pen. We're trying to build their knowledge base to equip them for their new lives.
So enjoy the videos... you can see how the pups are growing fast. And I'll post a bunch of still shots separately.
Here are the pups exploring and playing moments after entering the pen:
And here's a clip Kenya in the pen playing with the puppies (again, this is purposeful...we're taking advantage of a safe, controlled, known situation to introduce the puppies to bigger dogs -- something they'll face later on). Kenya, though happy and energetic, is still careful of the pups; that's why we use her to start.
Oh, one more thing: my apologies for the lighting issues in these clips and the photos that will follow in the next post. It was late afternoon, the sun was low in the sky casting deep shadows, and I'm using a compact digital camera for my video recordings.
Hey... I'm not a photographer or videographer; I just do what I can. ;o) These will have to do. ;o)
'Til next time,