Using a Puppy Development Schedule
For the people out there allergic to paperwork, keeping a birthing record and using a puppy development schedule probably seems like some kind of exciting new way to take something you love and wreck it with something boring and tedious. You might feel that way, at first, but the first time your poor, sleep-deprived brain blanks on an important piece of information that you NEED, you’ll see this in a whole new light.
The Birthing Record
There are different forms you can find pre-made for a good birthing record chart, but they should all have a few pieces of important data: Puppy, Time Born, Sex, Weight at Birth, Vigor, Conformation, Markings and a place for any other relevant notes, like what color collar they were assigned. This doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t even have to be a form! It just needs to be complete, and filled out at the time each puppy is born so you have something to refer back to. If you have the presence of mind, taking a photo of the front/top and each side of each puppy can come in handy for identification later. It’s amazing how much a litter of spotted puppies can look alike the day after they’re born!
In the previous paragraph, I mentioned assigning collar colors at birth to each puppy to help identify them. Affixing a collar with an identifying color to each puppy right away will help eliminate confusion later on, when you’re all muddled and sleep deprived. Trust me on this! Many people use a soft, chenille yarn that breaks easily under pressure. This has the advantage of being very inexpensive, but you have to change them often because the pups grow, and the “breaking easily” thing is an advantage, but also a detriment. If you go this route, you’re going to be replacing a lot of little yarn collars. We prefer the thin strips of self-sticking velcro. These are nice because they come in many different colors, you can use the same piece you put on them as a newborn for a couple weeks, since they can be removed and resized easily as the pup grows.
The Development Schedule
Like the Birthing Record, the Development Schedule is set up like a chart, but instead of keeping track of puppies as they are born, it’s an indispensable day-by-day guideline for what will be happening in your litter’s development at what time. This gives you time to prepare and be aware of what’s coming down the road. For example, knowing when your pups are going to start opening their eyes gives you a concrete deadline to get your black-out curtains up, set up your outdoor puppy playpen, or make other preparations.
Avidog has a great schedule, as well as a complete online course in raising puppies! It’s called Avidog’s Breeder College. If breeding better dogs is your life’s passion, it’s well worth checking into. Here’s a link to their development schedule spreadsheet.