The First 4 Months

THE FIRST 4 MONTHS

The First Few Days

The dam should be fed as much as she wants, increasing her food intake 3-4 times what she normally eats.  Some may eat 6.6 lbs. of meat, plus kibble/bread, milk, etc.  each day, and still lose weight, especially with a large litter and a good milk flow.  Ensure a balanced diet with a large amount of calcium (2 teaspoons DCP or equivalent per 500grams of meat).  Observe her nipples and mammary glands for any signs of insufficient milk, or redness, swelling or paid with abnormal milk (mastitis).  Watch her carefully for signs of shivering, and clumsiness which may be due to milk fever (low blood calcium levels).
 
The puppies should always feel warm to the touch.  They should drink from the teat, pushing on the mammary glands with their front feet.  They fall asleep only to wake up a couple hours later, cry, be licked by the mother (to stimulate them to urinate and defecate), drink again, and fall back asleep.
 
If you would like to have the puppies dew claws removed, the procedure (quite simple) should be performed in the first week of life.  It is important that all puppies drink well within the first 24-48 hours, and it is important to note if the pups acting abnormally. The puppies and the mother reside  in a 5' x 6' whelping box where they are free to come and go. The room is heated and air conditioned. The puppies remain in the whelping box until they can climb over the 12" high sideboards, usually at about 4-5 weeks. The whelping box has inside bumper rails so the female cannot crush the puppies against the sides. The rugs should be changed  twice per day and the box should be wiped down with a mild bleach solution. Puppies cannot see or hear until they are about 2 to 3 weeks old.   The puppies are old enough to start rousting each other just before they are moved.

4-5 weeks

The mother and puppies are moved to an enclosure over a similar type 6' x 6' whelping box. This enclosure is in a 8' x 8' stall with a dog door to a 8' x 30' fenced run. The run is chain link fenced and has an added 1/2" x 1/2" wire mesh fabric on the side next to a greyhound in the adjacent run. (Some adjacent greyhound females will kill puppies - the wire mesh prevents cross contact.) The puppies remain in this area until they are about 3 months old. Again, the enclosure is cleaned twice per day and wiped down with a mild bleach solution. The mother usually starts weaning her puppies at about 5 weeks. At this time the puppies are introduced to real food. They are first served a pan of milk with a little baby cereal. Within a short period of time a  little crumbled or blended dry meal can be added to the milk. As time passes finely diced red meat and tripe should be added to the mix. The puppies' vaccination and worming program begins.

6-7 weeks

The puppies are fully weaned and eating on their own. They love to play with each other; as they run and bounce, stumble, fall, wrestle, growl, bark, play, bite each other, turn their head to one side, pert up their ears, listen to new sounds, fall in the feed pan, bite each other's tails, shake rags, etc. They will become courageous enough to venture outside through the dog door, stretch their necks way out, sniff and listen. They will then sometimes turn and run back inside.
 
During this time period the mother is weaning the puppies. Some female greyhounds make excellent mothers; they clean after the pups, play with the pups, let the pups bite and chew on them, and generally enjoy motherhood. Other female greyhounds are true to their label - pure bitches. They will not only snap at the pups (which is a necessary learning process), but will also bite them, step and lay on them, and avoid them. Some females need to be separated from their pups before they are completely weaned. Although, the mother can visit with the pups for short periods of time while she is drying up. Some females can stay with their litter for about 1-1/2 months. At this time, surrogate mothers can help with the pups.  This is also usually the time that a lot of breeders start naming the pups and calling them by name.

2-4 months

The pups are now moved to a 20' x 300' long run with several dog houses.  They will remain together as a litter. Puppy collars are introduced to them at this time. They start jogging, playing, digging holes, tossing old bleach bottles, playing hide and seek, pulling tug of war with towels and toys, and interacting with each other. The pups need to eat twice a day-- early morning and late evening.

The pups are full of life at this stage and it is not uncommon to see them running full speed when a visitor arrives in the run. They will play, jump up on, bite, rip clothes, and smear mud all over a newcomer!   They will also upset the water bucket, and try to crowd out the entrance gate.  It is during this period they start establishing a hierarchy of dominance and developing personality traits. Some become more aggressive. Some seem to get along better with one littermate than the others. Some start getting picked on. Some start becoming a little afraid. Most are just happy, carefree pups.

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Courtesy of Wendy Hamilton and the GRA.