Breast Feeding a Dog & Puppy

The owner must make sure that everything is normal, from the hygienic point of view, as well as the behavioral point.

From the Hygienic Point of View: The colostrum that the puppy drinks with the milk in the first hours is rich in immunoglobulin which helps protect it from infections in a natural way. We must observe the mother's breasts because sometimes the puppies suck so hard that there can be cuts which can get infected. Those puppies who cannot find the breasts will have to be placed in the correct position, creating a small pressure so that the milk can flow. If the puppies did not have any difficulty, the owner will not come in the picture.

From the Behavioral Point of View: The link between the puppy and the mother is reinforced when it looks for the breast and starts to feed for the first time. The mother helps the small ones to find the teats by lying in a position that will make it easier for the puppies. The first milk is rich in colostrum. At first the mother is very patient with the puppies, but as the days go buy she becomes less patient. The relationship starts to reinforce itself little by little, as a consequence of a wise mix of instinct and motherly behavior. Cleanliness is a fundamental stage during the first days of the puppy's life, but the phase of protection is indispensable for the balance of the relationship between the mother and the puppy. It is easy to imagine that the owner must not be present at all times but always keeping a watch to see what is going on.

The Link between the Mother and the Puppy: The mother feeds her young, protects them; this creates a link that the puppy needs for its balanced development. The duty of the owner is to guard without taking part in anything, so that everything happens normally.

Protection: The female knows instinctively that she must quickly establish a link with her puppy to protect it from the outer dangers. In a domestic habitat the female dog feels safe; this is why the link that has been created between the mother and the puppies is because she is happy to be there with her small ones and not because of a simple survival instinct. There will be some female dogs that are overprotective and others that feel safer. This all depends on what the owner has done during their development; some females lose all interest in their puppies and don't care about their protection. Later on we will see what the owner's role is in this circumstance.

Shelter: This is an element of stability for the puppy that has to know clearly where it is located so that it can take shelter when it feels threatened by something. During the first 5 days, the mother is in charge of taking the puppies to the box or shelter. When the puppies are too heavy to be carried back to the shelter the mother only calls them. The mother's instinct of protection has some aggressiveness towards humans during the first days after labor.

Learning: After the stage of protection the puppy begins to learn about the surroundings where the puppy is developing. Later on we will analyze the different types of learning. Now we will take a close look at the general phases of this process and at the first teachings that the mother gives the puppies.

Learning of the Media: The first thing that the puppy learns is to distinguish its kin. The mother teaches it to recognize its brothers; later on she will teach the puppy to recognize animals of other species. During the neonatal period, the puppies are practically indifferent towards their brothers. The first relationships between the individuals of the same species begin in the transition period and are based in touch. The puppies lick one another. Followed by this comes the eye contact, where the puppies begin to wag their tail. After this they communicate by playing around. Another essential aspect for the puppy's life and for his balance is its social behavior. If in the case that the mother does not transmit this behavior then the owner must do it. The puppy must socialize, this stage is very important and the owner must see that it happens normally.

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