Summerland Labradors Nursery
Each Puppy Is Precious.
At Summerland Labradors, we strive to give every one of our puppies the best possible start on life.
Our puppies are raised inside our home, under the loving and watchful eyes of our entire family. The pups spend their first two weeks in a cozy den located inside our bedroom. The mother can come and go as she pleases and has free range of the property, inside and outdoors.
A whelping box is set up in a bedroom for the first two weeks. Once the puppies can crawl around, mom and puppies are moved to the family room where the majority of human activity takes place. For the next four to five weeks, the puppies receive an abundance of socialization. Each puppy is gently handled by our children from the time they are born until it's time to go home. We feel it is important for young dogs to absorb the unique energy and movements of children early on to insure you receive a most trustworthy and reliable pet.
From the first moment of birth, we monitor and record each puppy's weight and continually examine him or her for health issues. Each newborn puppy is easily identifiable by its own colored collar of cotton ribbon. The dew claws are removed between days 2-5. We also start our puppies on Benebac, which is a probiotic that promotes intestinal and digestive health. Puppies will receive this probiotic weekly while they are with us. Around day three, we begin Early Stimulation Exercises that were developed by the U.S. Military Canine Program to stimulate the puppy's neurological system for superior physical and mental advantages. They offer documented benefits that we have experienced firsthand as highly effective in the development of intelligent dogs.
At one week old, the puppies take turns being held by members of our family for longer periods of time to increase the puppies' association with humans as a source of pleasure and security. Because puppies of this age are blind and deaf, they depend on their sense of smell for everything. For this reason, we carry them into various rooms of our home to introduce them to as many interesting smells as possible.
Two-week old puppies are given their first dose of worming medicine. They will be wormed two or three times more before going home. The puppies' eyes are now open, and their ears will be opening soon. The puppies are starting to rise up off their bellies in attempts to walk and explore their environment. Socialization and "play time" with our family continues. We now keep a radio or television turned on most of the time so that, as their little ears are opening, the puppies become accustomed to a variety of sounds and voices.
Three-week old puppies are spending time outside in a portable puppy pen each day, weather permitting. The pups are now walking around quite a bit, becoming more interactive, playing with each other, and starting to play with toys. This is when the puppies become the most fun, as they begin to display their individual and unique personalities.
Four-week old puppies are given their second round of de-wormer. We slowly introduce them to goat's milk, our first step in weaning them off of mother's milk and onto moist dog food.
Five-week old puppies are given Neopar, which is their first parvo vaccination. Around this time, we start introducing the puppies to a wider variety of surfaces, inside and out, and louder, more engaging noises within our house, such as the vacuum, microwave, and hair dryer. We continue to take them outdoors for sunshine and a larger area to explore.
Six-week old puppies get regular, extended time outdoors. We praise them for eliminating outside and start using the word "potty" in hopes that they will learn it by the time they leave here to make house training easier for you. Puppies are introduced to a crate using positive reinforcement methods, both individually and as a group. We begin evaluating puppies for both show and temperament at this time. Once this evaluation is complete, the litter is divided into two groups: show and pet quality puppies.
The distinction of quality only reflects on a particular puppy's potential for the show ring. It does not relate to the puppy's otherwise excellent appearance, health, temperament or personality. We are extremely nit-picky when it comes to our show dogs because they may eventually be used for breeding. Keep in mind that what to us seems like a flaw would be nearly indiscernible to any person looking for the most beautiful and vibrant pet Labrador imaginable. Since we choose our show prospects at six-seven weeks of age, no specific puppy is promised to an individual until that time.
Seven-week old puppies continue to have outside time, crate time, and are interacting with people in more complex settings. Puppies receive their first 5-N-1 vaccine at this time. We perform a more formalized type of temperament test, one developed especially for Labradors in which puppies are evaluated for their conformation and structure, plus encouraged to go through a series of simple challenges that are graded according to whether they were able to complete each challenge and how well.
Eight-week old puppies are microchipped and ready to go home with their new families.