Rottweiler Breeder - Rottweiler Puppies - Rottweiler Stud Dog - Esmond Rottweilers | Mike Jackman & Ann Felske Jackman | Ontario Canada


What is your process for raising puppies?

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Where are your puppies born and raised?

Pups are born in our home.  They are whelped in a bedroom set up specifically for this purpose.  Mom and pups have a whelping box and I have a bed in the room so that I can stay with them full time.  The bedroom works out great, as it has an attached bathroom for washing up and is also next to the laundry room (LOTS of laundry with puppies!).  We spend the first two weeks in the whelping room as we find that the dam really appreciates her privacy at this time.

At three weeks, we set up puppy play yards, both upstairs in my computer room and downstairs in the living room.  This allows pups to get acclimated to the sights and sounds of a busy household.

By five weeks, pups are living underfoot the majority of the day and sleeping in their playpen at night.  By allowing the pups to play loose and interact with us, they develop many skills that they would not if they were sitting in a whelping box or x-pen full time.


How do you tell which pup is which?

At birth, we put various colored ribbons on the pups which help us to track each as an individual. We keep growth charts and diaries of behaviors starting from the very beginning.  At about two weeks, pups graduate into tiny collars, with colors corresponding to their original ribbons.  By about four weeks, we can identify pups immediately on sight, however, we keep their collars on them so that they are easily identified in photos and by those who visit.  At seven weeks, pups are microchipped.


Are the pups handled from birth?

Yes.  In addition to many hugs and kisses, we begin by utilizing the "Bio Sensor" program developed for Early Neurological Stimulation  In addition, Toenails are clipped starting at 3 days and they are handled by strangers and children weekly after the third week. 

Because our pups are handled so frequently, they are generally very friendly and outgoing.  We believe that this affords them the best opportunity to be successful after they leave us.


What is your process for socializing the pups?

As discussed above, we begin by utilizing the Bio Sensor program.  During this time, pups sleep the majority of the time and do not have the ability to see or hear.  By day 14, eyes will be open and ears should be as well. At this stage, we will add new smells to the whelping box.  The puppies' nervous systems undergo' rapid development during this time and teeth begin to develop.  They will begin to explore their environment to a greater extent and we encourage them to crawl to us for lots of stroking and attention. 

At three weeks (day 21), everything changes.  Pups are now fully aware of their environment and become quite playful.  They will begin to initiate interaction and will enjoy lots of visual stimulation.  Toys are introduced at this time.  Pups also begin to interact to a greater degree on day 21, face wrestling and knocking each other down.  We introduce their first food on day 21 as well.  This gruel is offered on our fingers and pups are normally highly interested.

By week four, pups are highly interactive.  They bark, use body language and are extremely playful.  At this point, they are eating at least one meal per day.  Trips out of their playpen are commonplace and, depending on the time of the year, they may venture outside.  At this age, they are blank slates and we assist in developing their fine motor skills by introducing many new surfaces to the playpen for them to walk on and climb over. During this week, we introduce mild auditory and visual stressors.

At week five, there is another big change.  Pups begin to exhibit individual personality traits, a pack order begins to emerge, and their dam is interacting with them differently as well, teaching appropriate social skills and setting limits.  Pups are quite active physically at this point and have developed coordination and depth perception.  They are allowed to romp through the house (supervised of course).  They are highly inquisitive at this point and we begin to set up small agility obstacles as well as introduce metal articles to carry.  We also lay the foundation that helps them make the connection between people and rewards (food, petting).  At this age, we normally invite children to come for play sessions...  this is one of our favorite parts!

By six weeks, pups have undergone rapid development and are essentially little dogs.  At this stage, the dam's relationship with them has changed and pups seek most of their interaction from us.  By now, pups are eating full meals, going outside to explore, are supremely confident on all types of footing, and with various noises and environments.  They choose to make eye contact (and are rewarded for that!) to initiate interaction and are exceedingly demanding for attention.  At this stage, we have many visitors (often daily) and also take pups for rides in the car into town.  We introduce them to the sherpa bag if they'll be flying home and also have them spend short periods in a crate.  At this age, pups are introduced to our other dogs.  We also set up challenges at this age... tests that are designed to evaluate individual problem solving ability as well as scenting ability, endurance, tenacity, resiliency etc.

Day 49 brings our formal puppy evaluations.  Pups are evaluated stacked and moving.  At this time, we administer a Puppy Aptitude Test as well as several other tests that we have customized to help us evaluate the various working drives.  Pups also have their first vet visit and are microchipped and responses are noted.  Each of these evaluations help us to determine how to match puppies to homes (see How Placement Decisions are Made).  

Since we have now determined where each pup will go, we work to socialize the pup in ways that will help it to most easily fit into the new household.  We also begin to imprint training behaviors.  Pups are socialized individually and rewarded for sitting squarely, making eye contact, asking to go outside etc.  They are encouraged to carry items and are taught to "trade".  Pups are introduced to a target stick and also a clicker, with rewards for responding to both.  Ball and tug drives are developed further.  Pups are encouraged to jump or scale small obstacles and are rewarded for being adventuresome.  They are bathed and brushed.  They are introduced to walking on lead and travel with us for small errands.  By the time the new owner arrives to pick them up, they are fully ready for their new lives.


How long is the dam with her puppies?

As long as she wants to be.  Each dam varies in her attentiveness to the pups and desire to spend time with them.  Some are highly interested in interacting with pups until they go home, others are quick to reprimand pups once teeth erupt.  In general, our girls are good mothers and are with pups full time until about three weeks.  From 3-5 weeks, they enjoy some private time but visit frequently for nursing and play sessions.  By about 6-7 weeks, they are weaning pups and are only visiting for short play interactions.  We allow the dam to interact with them as she sees fit.  The old adage "Mother Knows Best" holds true in this case.


What are pups eating and when?

Since our "I" litter, we have weaned our pups on a completely raw diet.  We have found that our raw fed pups grow more proportionately, are more "together" at a younger age ie. better motor skills, and are extremely food motivated adults, making training that much easier.

At 21 days, we begin to offer our pups a "Gruel" once a day.  This consists of goats milk, baby cereal (like for human babies), egg yolk, organic yogurt, honey and vitamin C (crystals).  We let the pups lick at this and in just one or two feedings, they are eating with great gusto.

At 4 weeks, we add baby food beef, lamb and chicken (yes, again, human baby food), and also baby food veggies which are wonderful since they're already pureed.  I also add a supplement called "The Missing Link".   They are offered this twice daily, assuming they are still nursing.

By 5 weeks, we start adding canned salmon and ground whole chicken or turkey in place of the baby food, plus a larger variety of real fruits and veggies as well as cottage cheese and apple cider vinegar.  We replace the baby cereal with a 12 grain mixture.  At this point, mom is sometimes starting to want to wean the pups, so the frequency of feeding is based on her willingness to allow them to nurse.

At 6 weeks, we introduce a greater variety of meats, such as Beef, Elk and Emu, as well as some chicken or turkey necks.  At this age, they usually will eat the meat off the bones, but will not be able to eat whole chicken backs or turkey necks until about 7 weeks.  By 7 weeks, the pups are eating just as our adult dogs would (See BARF Diet).  Mom has usually weaned them by now so they are offered four meals per day. 

A Few Notes:

We always allow mom to nurse pups as long as she is willing.  We feel that mother's milk is the ideal diet for a growing puppy and never "force wean".

We try to introduce new foods to the pups one at a time to ensure that they don't encounter digestive problems.  It also helps up to pinpoint foods that the pups don't like (for instance, I had one entire litter who wouldn't eat anything if there was bananas in it...another litter loved bananas).

If a pup will be fed kibble when it goes to its new home, we recommend that the owner ship us a bag of what they'll be feeding so that we can incorporate it into that pup's diet.  This is to avoid any additional stress when they arrive at their new home.  We also send each pup home with some of our food, so that the changeover is not so dramatic.


How are pups vaccinated?

This varies by litter.  Conventionally, we have used the Progard Puppy DPV (high titre parvo/distemper only) vaccines, per Intervet's 6.5, 9.5 week schedule and Progard 5 at 12.5 weeks.  However, there have been studies disputing the necessity for the earliest vaccine due to interference by the immunity passed on by the dam. 

What we are doing now is asking for a consensus from the prospective puppy owners for each litter to help us decide whether they would prefer to utilize, or skip, that 6.5 week vaccine.  Some of the items that will come into play for this decision is the time of year the litter arrives (much less worry of disease with our cold Canadian winters), the area that pups will be traveling to, and the level of titre that the dam had prior to whelping her pups.

We will send each pup home with a recommended vaccine schedule.  This again my vary based on the risks in the area you are located in.  Our suggestion is to re-vaccinate at 6 and 18 months and then titre test thereafter.


Do puppies get wormed?

Yes.  Pups are now wormed with Pyrantel Pamoate at 3 and 5 weeks, with fecal floats done at 5 and 7 weeks.  It is rare that we encounter pups with worms, but recent experience has taught us to be better safe than sorry.  It is to your advantage to have the pup wormed again once he is home as fecal floats are prone to false negatives.


Will the puppy be seen by a veterinarian before we take it home?

Yes, the puppy will be examined by a veterinarian at 7 weeks.  Hearts are listened to at this time and pups are microchipped.  Once the pup is deemed healthy, it is issued an International Health Certificate which will allow it to travel. 

Per your contract, you should also have your pup examined by your veterinarian shortly after he arrives home.  This will give you peace of mind that he has arrived home healthy.


Is birth order or  rank order (ie. Alpha dog) within the litter important?

We have seen no studies to suggest that birth order plays any part in development of puppies.  In our own experiences, there has been no trend in that regard.

In terms of pack order, it is very rare to see a true Alpha, Beta etc. pattern emerge within a litter.  It's never as simple as looking at a litter and figuring out who is the dominant or submissive puppy...this is an oversimplification.  Some pups will be naturally more adventuresome, inquisitive or bold than their littermates, but this does not always equate to a dominant personality (ie. a puppy can be bold without being rank seeking).  Conversely, a puppy can show inherent weakness in temperament, yet still hold a strong position within its litter in some regards.  It is up to a good breeder to understand how to evaluate these behaviors and understand what type of adult each puppy will mature into.   


Is the size of the puppy important (ie. will the runt of the litter have problems)?

We have not found size to influence adult behavior, though we have found the smallest puppies to often be the feistiest within a litter, as they have to work just a bit harder for everything (and of course we tend to spoil them with extra attention). 

Ultimately, we also have not found birth size to be an indicator of adult size.  Some of our smallest puppies have turned out to be very large adults, and some of our big brutish pups have matured into moderate sized dogs.  The size of the parents and their siblings is generally a better indicator of adult size than birth weight.


How will you know which puppy will be best for us?

As described above, we dedicate an incredible amount of time getting to know each pup.  And by the time the litter has arrived, we have also spent a fair bit of time getting to know you.  You can find out more about this process on the Adoption Process and How Placement Decisions are Made pages.


Will you give us instructions as to how to raise the puppy once he/she is home?

Yes.  By that point, we will have had many conversations about what to expect once your puppy comes home.  Most often, by the time you found us, you have experience raising puppies.  However, will will still offer suggestions in terms of feeding, training, veterinary care etc.  We ask that you keep in touch with us and will offer you and Support that you may require throughout the lifetime of your dog.