Early Socialization - Pre-Whelp
To ensuring the brood receives the best physical, social, and emotional support possible with the resources available to the Organisation. The time spent during this phase will give the Brood and her soon to be born puppies the optimal conditions for producing an outstanding Guide or Service Dog.
The temperament, behaviour and overall health of the Brood all come into play once the puppies are born but it is possible to start to influence these factors prior to birth. If physical and mental stress are kept to a minimum pre whelp the puppies are less likely to show emotional or behavioural issues in the future.
Genetics is responsible for 20% of what we see in the older dog, but the environmental impact is 80% hence it is vital to produce an environment that is conducive to learning.
Why is Pre-Whelp Preparation Important?
The building of positive association around humans starts with the brood well before she whelps.
Time spend massaging, touching, patting, all help towards producing a relaxed, happy, and accepting brood – and a stress-free brood will usually produce similar puppies. Likewise, an anxious, cautious, or fearful Brood will pass these qualities onto her puppies.
Remember the overall long-term goal is to have puppies who are accepting of being handled by humans. The positive association and calm demeanour of the brood when being with humans should pass onto her puppies resulting in calmer, relaxed puppies with a positive attitude to being handled and wanting to learn.
Once the pups are born, and throughout their lives, it is imperative that the building of positive human relationships continues, and puppies learn that being with humans is fun.
Following a C-Section the relaxation music and calming subtle scents may assist in keeping the Brood relaxed and calm while she adjusts to the nurturing role. Remember that any form of trauma will produce changes in the autonomic nervous system of the brood and interfering with the balance of the neurotransmitter of the brain. A first time Brood need time to adjust to the mothering role. Prior preparation as outlined above will ensure no added stress is encountered by the introduction of unseen equipment as it is introduced into the den over the next couple of weeks.