My sister sent me a link to an article recently published by the American Kennel Club, “Does Cuddling Lead to Better Behaved Dogs?” Of course, I found it interesting, and not surprisingly, it provided evidence to support why we do what we do at Carrier Family Doodles.
We have always believed that socializing puppies early and often with people and other adult dogs besides their Mama is beneficial. We have also tried to introduce puppies to household noises, different rooms in the house, new people when they come, and so on. We even work on training our puppies to an astroturf potty area so that they will preferentially look for grass as an elimination surface when they are ready for their forever homes and the great big world out there. In our opinion, because Golden Mountain Doodles are such a sociable breed and love people, the home environment is simply preferred in raising them.
The article in the AKC offers just one more reason why home-raising should be the ideal: ongoing interaction and nurture from their Mama is another key to raising well-adjusted puppies. Evidence suggests that “More maternal care and touching led to dogs with higher levels of social engagement, physical engagement, and fortitude. They were more friendly, more active, willing to interact with their world, and less likely to get spooked by unexpected and potentially threatening events in their environment.”
In our home, our puppies and Mamas have their very own whelping spot where they are as undisturbed as possible for the first few weeks (except for regular visits from a human primary caregiver.) No matter how well-socialized our puppies are with people, Mama is a constant. She comes and goes at will, and she knows her business. For the first few days, she rarely leaves the whelping box. By the time the puppies are 4 or 5 weeks old, she spends more and more time out and about, and the puppies begin to wean to solid food. By seven weeks, she may even begin growling at the pups when they want to nurse. However, our belief is that Mama should should have freedom to raise up her puppies as her instinct leads, feeding and interacting with them in a natural way. While each of our puppies has his or her own distinct personality, we believe that their first 8 weeks with Mama, along with careful and ongoing socialization with people and early introduction to the home environment, gives every Carrier Family Doodles puppy their very best possible start in life.