The puppy adventure continues and the during the first week of their life the Boxer puppies were blind and wiggly and didn’t do much else other than nurse. Leah was a very good mama. She had plenty of milk, and was very attentive to cleaning the pups and attentive to their little grunts and squeals. Our goal this week was to get Leah comfortable with us handling her puppies and convincing her to go leave them to outside to the bathroom. Several times I picked her up and carried her out the door,only to have her look through the screen window three minutes later with a look of fear that her babies were going to be harmed in some fashion.
Leah continued to get a raw egg added to her food after whelping, just like she did during the end of gestation when we gradually changed her over to the high protein puppy food her pups would be eating. Like normal dogs, she ate very little leading up to labor and very little for first few days after whelping. This is why allowing the mother dog to eat and consume the puppy sacs and placenta of each pup, yes it sounds gross, but is natural and normal and necessary for protein and energy supplementation.
I was more worried about her drinking enough water so she would produce enough milk, so several times a day I would place the bowl of water right under her nose and she would drink about a cup at a time. It took about two days before she would stand up and go to the edge of her whelping pool to eat and drink the food I placed in her elevated food dish.
Although I immediately announced the arrival of our puppies on Facebook and the Boxer forum we restricted visitors to just immediate family the first week. She loved having her human family visit, but wasn’t quite too sure about us picking up her pups. We would sit by her whelping pool and hold them very close to her because she didn’t want them more than a few feet from her.
However every day each puppy was handled, stroked, and placed on it’s back in our hands. With the exception of my own kids when they were babies, there is very little that is cuter and and more relaxing than holding and cuddling a puppy.
I totally believe in imprinting and socializing puppies early, starting at day one. This accomplishes a few things, our scent is on each pup, thus they got used to our smell and Leah got used to our smell on them and this in turn I believe made her more relaxed. After about four days we could sit back in a chair in the room and cuddle a puppy while Leah stayed with the rest of her litter in the whelping pool. We were always careful in the early stages to only hold one to two pups at a time and made sure each pup got held an equal amount, although everyone in the house had a favorite.
Boxer Puppies and Their First Trip to the Vet
We love our veterinarian, he’s a very practical large/small animal vet with very good bedside manner. He reminds me of James Herriot and for that reason alone that’s enough reason for us to use him as our vet.
Leah had seen him for routine vaccination, dewormings and her pre-breeding examination. We kept in communication with him in regards to the breeding date and expected whelping date and scheduled an appointment the Saturday morning of Leahs due date for her postpartum exam, puppy exams, dock their tails and have dewclaws removed.
We worried how Leah would react, so the puppies first car trip was done with purpose and with a plan. Firs,t let Leah out to go to the bathroom. Second, have a small box with a heated rice bag under a blanket and close the top. Third, carry the puppy box into the back seat of the car where Leah would follow. This worked like a dream, the warmth kept the puppies comfortable and I would occasionally lift the lid to reassure Leah her puppies were fine.
Why Dock Boxer Tails
Boxer pups get their tails docked and dewclaws removed at three days of age. Many people ask why Boxers tails are docked and if it’s cruel or even necessary. While some believe it’s strictly for cosmetic purposes we talked to several breeders and forums and chose to dock the tails more for safety and health reasons. Boxers have had their tails docked for over a hundred years. Therefore breeders cannot tell by looking at a dog if they have a strong hefty tail, or a skinny very long weak tail. Since Boxers are VERY energetic tail waggers there are stories of undocked Boxers breaking or injuring their tails. Leah is a “wiggle-butt” and her 4-5″ tail goes a mile a minute when she comes to greet us, I could just imagine what her tail would do if it were two feet long.
We arrived at the vets and I brought the puppies into the exam room and Leah stayed in the waiting room with my husband. I expected the puppy squealing to make her very anxious and worried. However everything was over and done in 10-15 minutes with Leah being very calm and relaxed. Dr. Gigstad had everything ready, I held and firmly cradled each pup in my hands on their stomach with their head facing me and their tail towards “Doc”.
The everyday holding and cradling of the pups, or imprinting since birth, I do believe had an effect on how easy and calming it made the procedure. Two stitches in their tail, then turned them over for dewclaw removal and back in the warm box they went. Only two pups let out an initial squeal and all were asleep by the time Mama came in 10 minutes later. She looked her puppies all snoozing, looked at me and “Doc” and almost smiled, yes she almost smiled, as if to say “I knew I could trust you.”
Post Whelping Vet Check
Then Leah had her post whelping vet check. She had lost about 5 lbs from her initial breeding weight and had a low-grade fever, so he gave her a general antibiotic as a precaution, gave her a Vitamin B shot and about a dozen cans of canned dog food to stimulate her appetite. He asked about her discharge, the rate of labor, how she was nursing, and examined her teats for mastitis or infection. She was doing just fine he said, “.. just encourage her to eat like you’ve been doing, the pups look great, and let’s schedule their vaccinations”
We brought Leah and her pups out to the waiting room where several visitors oohed and ahhhed over them. The ride home was very uneventful, the puppies slept and even Leah was more relaxed and laid down in the back seat and didn’t even look at her pups. This was a lesson in trust and one more important step in the puppy maturation process. After this Leah was more willing to go outside and leave her pups, and by day seven she was willingly getting up and going out.
Want to learn and hear more about Leah and her puppies? Stayed tuned for the next article and week two of a puppy adventures where they open their eyes.