Dog Family - From Mating to Raising

Few people ever have the chance to observe very early puppy behavior. It is only dog breeder’s early puppy behavior. It is only dog breeders, who, on daily basis, have the opportunity to watch a pup rapidly evolve – from its total dependence on its mother, to its willingness and confidence, only weeks later, to leave the pack and  embark on a new life with a non – canine pack, moving into our homes.

The dog’s success as a species is intimately connected to its willingness both to associate with humans and to be controlled by use. Nevertheless, there are occasions in a dog are when its actions and behavior are wholly influenced by its biology, and this is at its most obvious during mating, pregnancy, and early puppy development. The almost perfunctory courtship and then curiously protracted physical linking during mating are the same for a tiny Chihuahua as a powerful Mastiff. So, too, is the behavior of the pregnant female: she becomes quieter, grows more possessive of articles such as toys, prefers to stay under tables or chairs, and sometimes becomes irritable, even snappy. These hormonally triggered changes also occur during the “false pregnancies” that follow each and every heat cycle.

At birth, mother is in total control, instinctively severing the umbilical cords, licking the pups dry and helping them find her milk. The pups themselves are born with only a few active senses and are completely dependent on her. But the pups’ exquisite sensory abilities develop rapidly, within only a few weeks, and with them come independence. Soon the pups are exploring their world, learning to manipulate both each other and objects that they find, and demanding solid food as well as milk from their increasingly harassed mother.

While we speak of dogs as pack animals, this is the only part a wholly canine pack. The mother is, of course, pack leader, but a hierarchy soon develops within the litter, with the most dominant pups claiming the most productive nipples. A dog’s personality is grounded in the early relationship it develops with its mother and littermates. Both dominant and submissive characteristics form early, long before you acquire your pup, and begin to influence the pup’s emotional development. Because we control their breeding, we can accentuate or diminish common behavioral characteristics shared by dogs. This is how we have successfully created a huge variety of breeds with differing temperaments, some of these breeds are easily trained, while others are more independent; certain breeds thrive on human companionship, while others are very protective of their territories; some breeds are placid, and others more excitable. By choosing carefully, you can select a canine companion to enhance the lives of both you and your family.

Choosing a partner
Although it may appear that the male initiates courtship, it actually the female who decides when – and with whom – she will mate. As she comes into season over 10 to 14 days she increasingly urine-marks, leaving a scent rail for males to follow. She does not necessarily choose the most dominant male for mating. Females prefer familiar partners but, although they may bark and snap at overexcited suitors, they might simply roll over to over dominant dogs. While males are year-round sexually active “opportunists,” females have only two short spells each year when they ovulate and mate. Just before, during and after ovulation, bitches become more flirtatious and playful, soliciting interest from male dogs.

After the sniffing, play-bowling, prancing, and dancing of courtship, the act of mating is completed fairly quickly. As soon as the bitch is ready for him, the dog mounts her, grasping her body with his forelegs. Experienced stud dogs have no problems with sexual union, but inexperience males often need a little guidance. Help is best left to experienced dog breeders or veterinary staff. Occasionally, a male may gently hold on to the female with his teeth, to maintain his balance and grasp. Generally speaking, the male ejaculates quickly. Even so, the two dogs remain physically locked together in a “tie,” often for more than half an hour. The tie, caused by part of the dog’s penis, the bulbourethral gland, swelling after mating, temporarily prevents other dogs from mating with the female.
Pregnancy behavior
The hormonal changes of pregnancy always follow ovulation, so it is very difficult to determine whether a bitch is pregnant or simply experiencing a perfectly normal “false pregnancy”. Whether pregnancy occurs or not, the bitch becomes calmer and less active, and her abdomen begins to enlarge visibly. She may be inclined to spend more time alone, especially under furniture, to sleep more, and to carry her toys around with her. But pregnancy cannot be confirmed until the abdomen can be scanned or the pups manually felt in the womb three weeks later. When a female is genuinely pregnant, experienced breeders notice that her nipples begin to enlarge and freshen to a move vivid pink a few weeks after successful mating.

Giving birth
The contractions of birth are precipitated by an abrupt reduction in the levels of the pregnancy hormone progesterone and a coordinate increase in the production of estrogen. As this begins, some females become restless and stop eating. In some cases, they may be wary of strangers or even act aggressively if disturbed. Others, however, seek out their human owners and want them near. The intensity of the contractions of labor varies, and a bitch may groan, pant heavily, or take slow, deep breaths. Some dogs will temporarily inhibit their contractions when they see their owners. The first pup is usually delivered within a maximum of two hours of the onset of contractions, but usually sooner. Subsequent pups arrive after intervals ranging from a few minutes to two hours of the in length. Birth can be a difficult procedure in breeds with relatively large heads, such as the bulldog, or in breeds with small litters and consequently large pups, such as the Yorkshire terrier. If your dog experiences any difficulties contact your vet immediately.

Good mothering
Even the most human-oriented dog retains her natural mothering instinct, which is triggered by giving birth and the appearance and erratic movements of her puppies – the same factors that evoke caring instincts in humans, the mothers instinctive behavior progresses naturally from the initial total concern for her puppies’ protection, nourishment, cleanliness, and sanitation, through the stage of teaching discipline while still putting up with her litter’s shenanigans, and eventually to treating her young as other adult members of a pack when they represent competition for her. This rapidly evolving maternal behavior allows the pups to become independent from their mother by three months of age.

Developing senses
At birth, the only efficient senses pups have are heat and scent receptors on and in their noses and touch receptors on and in their sense guide the newborns to find nourishment from their mother’s nipple and to huddle together for warmth. A puppy’s eyes and ears do not function until it is two weeks of age but subsequently develop quickly are fully functional within another two weeks. Taste and smell, present at birth, also develop swiftly over the first give weeks of life. These senses provide pups with the necessary abilities for early independence. Early in life, a hungry pup cries for its mother. By three weeks of age, its sense – for example, the touch receptors on its feet – are so sophisticated that it can orient itself and seeks out its mother for nourishment it needs.

Licking and begging
For the first three weeks of life, it is mom who decides when the pups will feed: she gains contentment from suckling her young, and she also responds to their vocal demands for there presence. As soon as they can walk, however, the pups start demanding food from her. Taking the initiative, they follow her around and try to feed whenever possible – even when she is simply standing still or eating her own meal. This behavior not only satisfies their hunger but also acts as a family bonding mechanism. As the puppies ‘digestive system mature, they eat their first solid foods. In same way in which a mother wolf regurgitates solid food for her young after a hunt, some dogs do the same for their maturing puppies.

Learning to move
Although a puppy is virtually helpless at birth, its senses develop so rapidly that by a mere 12 weeks of age it has all the basic abilities necessary for its life. It can keep up with adults, avoid predators, and it understands the basic moves for capturing prey. All of this is possible simply because a puppy’s nervous system matures so rapidly – incomparably quicker than the 18 years it takes for the human nervous system to complete its physical development. A pup can stand unaided just two weeks after birth, walk by three weeks of age, and run by five weeks. By 12 weeks of age it will have developed all the gaits of adulthood – the walk, trot, canter, and gallop. In addition to this, within the same time scale it will also have mastered the abilities needed for successful hunting: leaping, creeping, jumping, and crawling.

Once their sense and coordination are developed, puppies begin exploring their surroundings and their relationships with each other. They soon learn how to survive in and benefit from the world around them. They must also learn how to live with other members of their pack. At first, a pup’s curiosity knows no fear or trepidation: he boldly leaves the nest and explores the surrounding territory, willingly approaching all animals, including us. This is a sensitive period in a pup’s early life, and it will from the backbone of lifelong behavior. Although fear behavior begins to develop at seven to eight weeks of age. This important period of social exploration and open learning continues for about another mouth.

Experiencing life
The most influential time in a pup’s life is from birth until it is approximately three months old. For the first two – thirds of this period, pups are usually still with their mothers and living with their breeders, not under our control. This is when a pup learns how to act and react with other pups, and how to experience and use the world around it. Through trial and error, it discovers what is enjoyable and what is dangerous, what is edible and what is not, and what feels good and what is uncomfortable. Skills are honed. Mental and physical dexterity develops through play. The more a young dog is allowed to investigate its surroundings, the more developed – and, in face the heavier – its brain becomes.

Puppy play
Dogs remain playful throughout their lives, and this a characteristic of humans, too. It is for this reason that we have exaggerated the dog’s joy of play through selective breeding – so much that, in many ways, we have created what are, in essence, lifelong puppies. We enjoy watching them play, and we enjoy playing with them. Dogs are most playful when young, and through play they learn how to communicate with each other and most importantly, how to inhibit their bite. Play they learn how to communicate with each other and most importantly, how to inhibit their bite. Play stimulates inventiveness and teaches problem – solving, timing, balance, and coordination. It also allows puppies to experiment under safe conditions. Play often begins with a bow and ends abruptly when a pup gets distracted or bored.

The extended family
It is a curious fact that the only time in your dog’s life during which it experiences true pack activity is the short period between its birth and its acquisition by you. Once a pup leaves its mother and siblings, it develops modified pack behavior, with your human family taking the place of other canine pack members. Only pups that go on to live or work with other dogs – pack hounds, for example – find themselves in a situation where they make their own decisions on the admission of new canine members to their group. Introducing a new dogs into a home with an existing dog is ultimately, always successful because of the inherent naturalness of the action. How that extension of the family develops depends on the age, sex, size, and self-confidence of the new pack member.