All puppies are born and raised in our home, not in outdoor kennels.
Once born, daily video &/or picture updates will be posted on our Facebook page.
The below pictures & videos are a compilation from different litters we have raised over the past several years.
At around 30 days gestation we will confirm pregnancy by ultrasound.
This is the same technology used to generate sonograms during human pregnancy; using sound waves that are transmitted through the dog’s body to create an image.
Ultrasounds are completely safe to use on pregnant dogs.
Pregnancy can be a stressful time, both for the dog and owner.
Sometimes during delivery, things can go wrong. Weeks leading up to birth is spent making sure everything is on hand from the whelping list. It’s also imperative to review any lifesaving measures that may need to be taken during delivery.
We have X-rays done sometime between days 55-58 gestation to help determine how many puppies to expect. This also allows our reproductive veterinarian to compare fetus sizes to pelvic canal and address any potential labor concerns.
In some cases, a C-section may be warranted.
Any birthing action plans are also coordinated at this time.
As delivery day approaches, whelping areas are set up in an area safe from drafts and high traffic. The girls rest & sleep in their birthing pool beginning about a week prior to their due date. This allows them time to get familiar with their new arrangements.
I will be sleeping right next to them for the next 3-4 weeks.
Being vigilant, ready & equipped to assist, along with understanding newborn puppy care is essential to help the mother and her puppies thrive through the critical first weeks of life.
There may be times when veterinarian intervention is needed.
The above pictured puppy is just a few minutes old and was last in the litter born after a long whelping pause. He weighed 1 pd 4 oz, which is very large for a lab puppy. 'Cedar' is now living his best life with his family in Northern Wisconsin.
Not every puppy will survive. To date, I've lost two puppies. The first, just shy of him turning 3 weeks old, and most recently, 'Peanut', from our Rose x Roy litter at 8 days old.
This is the absolute most heartbreaking part of breeding.
Temperature dropped below 99. Panting, pacing, and nesting behavior began a few hours ago. The cervix is dilating and the puppies are lining up ready to come out. This stage can last up to 24 hours.
Grace is an over-achiever though and starting pushing out puppies shortly after this video.
Grace's first litter. The white PVC you see behind her is known as "Pig Rails". The intent is to protect the puppies from being laid on and smothered accidently. The rails are low enough that moms body is not able to get under it, however the puppies can. When puppies are of sufficient size and strength, the rails are removed to increase internal whelping box space.
Puppies are raised using Puppy Culture protocols beginning at just 3 days of age with Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS). This protocol is done daily through day 16.
Great video by THE RETRIEVER NATION explaining ENS in detail
Grace getting some early morning snuggles from me before she has to head back to the trenches. I have my Army cot set up next to the puppies and sleep there for the first few weeks.
It never gets old listening to the little squeaks of newborn puppies.
The colored marks on the puppies are for identification of each pup so we can track and monitor each puppies progress.
PLR does not use collars until the pup is over 3 pounds.
Not much excitement to see the first couple weeks.
Just eat, sleep, poop, and repeat!
You are able to see the indentations of where the heating pad is located. The puppies are able to move on and off it easily and there is plenty of room for mom to lay without overheating herself. The heating pad is removing towards the end of week 3 as the puppies are able to better regulate their own body temperature by then. The pig rails are also removed at this time.
This is my absolute most favorite time. Puppies’ eyes are opening (although they are not able to see clearly yet), they are beginning to hear sounds, experimenting with their voices, and learning to walk.
I could spend hours just watching them. :)
Introduction to noise. Although, some of the pups may not be able to hear very well yet. This is done while the puppies are nursing so the sound they hear is related to something positive.
Discovering their voices, learning to walk, and starting on litter training.
First time eating puppy mush (equal parts goats’ milk/kibble, splash of water, NuVet, and Probiotics.) with the sound of fireworks in the background.
We always introduce new sounds while they are eating or snuggling with mom at this age. This positive association at such a young age significantly improves each dog’s ability to cope with noises in the future. **How the new owners react when they ‘feel’ the dog should be scared, WILL diminish this positive association quickly.
Sometimes it takes a village!
Around day 9 or 10 Faith decided that licking butts and keeping the puppies clean was a job she no longer wanted (I guess I can't really blame her). Our girl Grace stepped in and took over the nurturing role, while Faith did a great job of keeping the milk bar full.
Definitely not something we would encourage, but in this situation, it worked out well for everyone.
Just over 3.5 weeks and already consistently using the litter box on their own. WIN
A different litter at 26 days old and using litter area on their own as well.
We love smart, easily trainable Labradors.
We have 24/7 access to check in on the puppies at anytime.
This was around 2 a.m. and they must have been at a dance party...did you know that when the puppies are awake, so is everyone else in the house? ;)
Early introduction of 'scary' things makes vacuums just a normal part of puppyhood.
We allow the Moms to wean their puppies on her own terms. At nearly 5 weeks old, Grace instinctively wants to continue feeding; however, those little 'sharks' are relentless and make it difficult. Puppy feedings of mush/kibble are adjusted daily, depending on the amount of milk they get from Mom.
So many new discoveries at this age. Once the puppies have better leg coordination, we start going on short trips outdoors, as weather permits. Having mom along gives the pups a boost of confidence in new situations.
5 week old pups who have been conditioned with pots/pans, vacuums, and various others noises since birth. As you can see, they are not phased at all. We expose puppies to similiar scenarios daily.
Lots of mental stimulation is important. Look at those little tails wagging. :)
First time eating dry kibble.
I whistle each time they are fed which will later be used to recall.
The puppy I put in the kennel to eat was a bit smaller, so feeding separate ensures he gets full rations.
It's Story time!
Just a play session at 4:30 a.m. because that's how they roll.
Providing a variety of textures in flooring for the puppies to walk/stand on provides environmental enrichment. This type of passive exposure teaches the puppies that walking over bumpy or different surfaces is completely normal.
Feeding the puppies in individual crates at this young age helps create a pleasant association with the crate/kennel.
Since we started implementing crate association into our program, we have received great feedback from our puppy families on how much their puppies have LOVED their crates since the day they brought them home.
We do lots of enrichment activities as it encourages natural behaviors, provides different experiences for their senses, and promotes their overall wellbeing.
Enrichment provides both mental and physical stimulation, while keeping boredom and destructive behaviors at bay.
We take advantage of any opportunity when our cat, Gunner, decides to interact with the puppies.
More exposure to different environments and surfaces.
We try and get the puppies exposed to as many environments as possible. Always keeping their overall health in mind as puppies immune systems are still weak at this young age.
The puppies are now recalling with a whistle and sitting politely when they approach their person (Me).
Puppies are having a snooze after some outdoor adventures when the city siren went off. As you can see, they were pretty shaken up about it. :)
I think there is something wrong with our cat, Gunner. He absolutely loves dogs of all sizes. I'm not sure this puppy, Hunter, will get the same response from future kitties. ;)
Both these puppies were donated to Patriot K9s of Wisconsin in 2018. PK9 helps Veterans win the war against suicide, depression, and anxiety by empowering them with the use of a Service Dog. Veterans learn to train and care for their own service dog; while regaining their independence.
'Xander' (Green collar) is now a fully trained service dog who is empowering his Veteran to continue moving forward each & every day.
'Gavins' Veteran elected to withdraw from the program. Because the Veteran had develeoped a bond with the puppy, we decided to allow Gavin to remain with his Veteran as an emotional support dog.
At times, puppies may stay with us past 8 weeks of age based off the needs of the family and in the best interest of the puppies.
In this particular litter, they turned 8 weeks old on 27 Dec. Therefore, we decided the new families could take their puppies home anytime between Christmas and after the New Year.
These 4 pups were able to celebrate brining in the new year here at Patriot Labrador Retrievers with their littermates.
It's important that dogs are able to relax and have a calm state of mind. This is achieved by teaching the 'place' command at an early age.
We start with just a few minutes a day and are able to build up to several hours. Being able to go from 110 mph outdoors and having an off switch is extremely valuable, for both dogs and humans.
In this video are littermates Lady & Frankie at about 3.5 months, working on 'place' for the fist time with the older dogs of the house.
Puppies are born with their eye lids ‘sealed’ shut. Although the eyes are fully formed, they are still developing. The eye lids will start to open up around 2 weeks of age. Puppies are, to a degree, color-blind. Dogs see in colors of mainly blues, grays, white and pale yellows. We, on the other hand, see all colors of the rainbow. We can also see better close up than dogs. On average, your puppy has 20/75 vision, while humans (with correction, if needed) should have perfect 20/20 vision.
Puppies are born deaf. They cannot hear until 3 weeks or so of age. During this initial 2 to 3 weeks, the puppy is practically blind and deaf. However, once fully developed, your puppy can hear four times the distance you can! Puppies don’t hear low frequencies as well as we do. That’s why puppy toys make such loud, high-pitched squeaks.
Smell, the most important sense for puppies. There is a lot to cover when it comes to a dog’s olfactory system, so I'll just stick to the basics. Smell is a puppy’s only major sense for the first few weeks of life. Puppies must find their siblings, mom and milk by using smell, not with vision or hearing.
Puppy’s noses are generally pinkish when they are born. Their noses darken up after a few days to match their coats.
Notice the lack of hair around this puppy's snout? It’s thought that the muzzle acts as a little heat sensor; which assists the scenting ability to locate their mom and siblings. The puppies will move their heads back and forth until they sense a source of heat and head in that direction. With our puppies, that could be tricky, as we keep a heating pad under a portion of the bedding. By the time our pups are ready to move into their new homes, hair around their snouts and muzzle will have filled in.