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Litter 54 – Rearing

Alice & Rush Litter

Hannibal’s Hopeful Bear & Jolly Roger's Rush to Judgement

January 15, 2017
2 males & 1 female

Our methods for raising pups is based on the Puppy Culture protocols for rearing, socializing, and training,
though we do incorporate practices that are either breed specific or a personal preference.

This information is not intended as a substitute for the work of Jane Killion or the Puppy Culture educational material. We encourage you to visit the Puppy Culture website and learn firsthand.

Nursery — 0 to 4 Weeks

Hannibal Newfs Protocol

The puppies are whelped and raised in our home. The nursery is located off of our kitchen and includes a whelping box, as well as all the necessities for both litter and breeder. From birth to four weeks of age, Shel lives in the nursery with the pups. During this critical period, the pups are monitored around the clock.

The whelping box has puppy rails (to prevent pups from being suffocated by their dam) that are removed after two weeks and replaced with a small potty area. The pups begin housetraining as soon as they start to walk.

Early Neurological Stimulation — 3 to 16 Days

Puppy Culture Protocol

Early neurological stimulation (ENS) has been proposed to enhance the natural abilities of dogs. ENS involves subjecting pups aged between 3 and 16 days to mild forms of stimulation leading to “stress.” When tested later as adults, these same animals were said to be better able to withstand stress than littermates who were not exposed to the same early stress exercises.

Early neurological stimulation involves five brief stress exercises.

Early Neurological Stimulation - Tactile Stimulation
Tactile Stimulation

Holding the pup securely in one hand, gently stimulate (tickle) the pup between the toes on any one foot using a Q-Tip for 3-5 seconds.

Early Neurological Stimulation - Head Up Position
Head Up Position

Holding the pup firmly with both hands, the pup is held with its head is directly above its tail for 3-5 seconds.

Early Neurological Stimulation - Head Down Position
Head Down Position

Holding the pup firmly with both hands, the pup is held with its head pointed downward towards the ground for 3-5 seconds.

Early Neurological Stimulation - Supine Position
Supine Position

Securely hold the pup on its back with its muzzle facing the ceiling for 3-5 seconds. The pup may sleep through the exercise.

Early Neurological Stimulation - Thermal Stimulation
Thermal Stimulation

Cool a damp cloth in a refrigerator for at least five minutes. Place the pup on the towel, feet down, for 3-5 seconds. Do not restrain it from moving.

Visitors — 7 Days

Hannibal Newfs Protocol

Once the litter is stable, we welcome visitors by appointment. Guests are shown how to safely handle the puppies, as well as age appropriate interactions. Puppy adopters are encouraged to visit as often as possible. The puppies receive multiple visitors weekly until they leave at 12 weeks of age.

Transitional Period — 14 to 21 Days

Puppy Culture Protocol

Transitional period begins when the puppies eyes open and ends when they first startle upon hearing a sound. During this period:

  • Pups begin eliminating on their own
  • Pups begin walking (around the same time they begin eliminating on their own)
  • Teeth emerge
  • Pups start lapping
  • Pups become interested in mush
  • Pups begin vocalizing (barking/growling)
  • Non-verbal communication begins, such as tail wagging
Milestones for Litter 54
Event Black Boy Blue Boy Gold Girl
Early Neurological Stimulation – Start Day 5 Day 5 Day 5
Eyes open Day 10 Day 10 Day 11
First steps Day 10 Day 11 Day 10
First solo piddle Day 12 Day 14 Day 11
First solo poop Day 14 Day 15 Day 12
First growl/bark Day 12 Day 17 Day 13
First tail wag Day 12 Day 14 Day 14
First play Day 14 Day 15 Day 16
First tooth Day 15 Day 15 Day 15
Early Neurological Stimulation – End Day 16 Day 16 Day 16
Started lapping Day 19 Day 19 Day 19
Interested in mush Day 19 Day 20 Day 19
First time seeking human attention Day 20 Day 20 Day 20
First time playing with toy Day 19 Day 21 Day 20
First startle upon hearing a sound Day 18 Day 21 Day 19

The start of Early Neurological Stimulation was delayed by two days due to litter stress.

Startle Recovery — 3 Weeks

Puppy Culture Protocol

At three weeks of age, puppies develop a startle response yet have no real fear response. The lack of fear and quick recovery to being startled provides a small window of opportunity to exercise the puppies’ recovery muscles without worry of fear imprinting. Beginning this week, the puppies are exposed to a variety of sights, and sounds intended to exercise their startle recovery, including but not limited to: a hand clap, dropping metal bowls, starting a vacuum cleaner, dropping books, shaking a marble-filled bottle, loud laughter, a chorus of barking dogs, and dropping a new toy into the weaning pen each day.

Separation — 3 Weeks

Puppy Culture Protocol

During the third week, pups are separated from their littermates for short periods of time. This individual handling helps encourage the puppy’s bond with people, as well as aids in preventing future separation anxiety. Brief one-on-one time with visitors and family creates a positive association that will help them adjust when they leave for their new homes.

Weaning Pen — 4 Weeks

Puppy Culture Protocol

At four weeks of age the puppies move into a weaning pen. The larger pen provides an area where the pups can run freely at any time. The exercise will help them grow strong and fit, and will help reduce friction in the litter. The weaning pen incorporates a large “potty area”, training crates, an adventure box, and a cool sleeping area (a breed preference). The remainder of the weaning pen is covered with recycled hospital pads, which provide both traction and absorbency.

The weaning pen has a door that offers secure access to the attached potty pen to aid with housetraining.

Weaning Pen

Grooming — 4 Weeks

Hannibal Newfs Protocol

Beginning at four weeks of age, puppies are groomed regularly. As young pups, this involves nothing more than a few minutes of brushing daily and weekly nail trims. As puppies mature, they will be introduced to the grooming table, high-velocity dryer, Dremel, nail clippers, and assorted combs and brushes.

Adventure Box — 4 Weeks

Puppy Culture Protocol

An adventure box is an innovative piece of equipment that helps puppies become confident and stable adults. The interactive activity center encourages puppies to experience different textures, shapes and sounds, providing both physical and mental stimulation.

The adventure box is loud. Objects are placed strategically to generate the maximum amount of sound with the least amount of effort. The pups “self startle” during play and eventually become immune to the continual clanging.

Introducing Event Marker — 4 Weeks

Puppy Culture Protocol

An event marker is something that is used to mark a desired behaviour at the instant it occurs. Common markers are audible, such as a clicker or verbal cue. In order for the marker to have value, we need to change the way the puppy feels when he hears the click or cue. The goal is to create an association in the pup’s brain between the marker and a tidbit of food. This is accomplished by presenting the marker and immediately following it with a treat. With enough repetitions, this pairing of marker/treat will change the way your puppy feels about the marker. This process is often referred to as “charging the clicker”.

Offering Behaviours — 4 Weeks

Puppy Culture Protocol

Once the marker is charged, the pups are ready to learn how to offer behaviours. A shallow box is placed on the floor, and we wait for voluntary interaction with the box. The goal is not to get the pup to do anything, in particular, but to teach the puppy to offer a behaviour of any kind. We click anything at all that the puppy does with the box – look at it, touch it, step in it. It doesn’t matter if the puppy touches it by accident, we still click and treat. We want to teach the puppy that they will be rewarded for offering a behaviour.

Puppy Pen — 4 Weeks

Hannibal Newfs Protocol

At four weeks of age, the puppies are allowed outside for the first time. Their puppy pen is a secure 20-foot by 10-foot enclosure situated within our main kennel and adjacent to their weaning pen. The pups have access to toys, age appropriate play equipment, shelter, water, and their dam.

The puppy pen is illuminated to provide early morning and early evening outdoor playtime during our short winter days. The puppies are always closely monitored when they are outdoors.

Outdoor Playtime — 4 Weeks

Hannibal Newfs Protocol

The puppies enjoy daily outdoor exercise beginning at four weeks of age. Given these are Newfoundland pups, they are only denied their outside playtime when temperatures are extreme (cold or hot), there is a storm, freezing rain, or heavy rainfall.

The pups are closely monitored while outdoors and are promptly brought inside if there is a change in weather, or if the pups appear uncomfortable for any reason.

Asking for Things — 4 Weeks

Puppy Culture Protocol

Teaching puppies to ask for something (manding) is a critical communication skill. By default, puppies will attempt to ask for something by jumping up or pawing at us. The very first lesson taught to the puppies is the concept that if they want something, they can ask for it, or mand, by sitting. This is accomplished by presenting a cue, the presence of a human, and then clicking and treating the puppy for sitting. The goal is to change the cue of a human present to mean sit instead of jump up. Manding gives a puppy a voice, so he can “speak” and express his needs. This is one of the most empowering life skills you can give any social being, the gift of communication.

Challenges & Problem-Solving — 4 Weeks

Puppy Culture Protocol

At four weeks of age, the pups are introduced to challenges that build their problem-solving skills. They are motivated to overcome obstacles, are challenged by puzzles, experience new textures and flooring, and are introduced to novel objects daily. Below is a sampling of the challenges presented to our puppies.

Food Barrier

Food is set behind a barrier. The puppy is shown the food, then placed on the other side of the obstacle.


A children’s play tunnel is placed in a doorway. The pups must travel through, or over, the tunnel to enter/exit the puppy room.

Uneven Floor

An x-pen is placed on the floor and covered with a tarp. The uneven surface helps prepare the pups for walking where footing is unsteady.

Textured Mats

Pups are encouraged to cross textured mats. A novel tactile experience helps prepare the pups for navigating strange surfaces in the future.

Ball Pit

A children’s wading pool is filled with 200 balls. A dozen small treats are added to make the experience more enticing.


The puppies are presented with age and size appropriate challenges, such as climbing over a hurdle to get outside.

Housetraining — 5 Weeks

Hannibal Newfs Protocol

At five weeks of age, we begin the process of housetraining. The first step involves waking and taking the pups out first thing in the morning. After they relieve themselves, they return inside for breakfast, followed by another outing immediately after finishing their meal. Every time the pups wake (and when a person is present), they are whisked outside for “potty time.” This process is repeated throughout the day as consistently as possible.

To aid in housetraining, direct access to a secure “potty pen” is located off of the weaning pen.

Puppy Picnics — 5 Weeks

Hannibal Newfs Protocol

Weather permitting, the puppies begin having lunchtime picnics outside in their puppy pen around five weeks of age. This gives the pups some fresh air, acclimates them to pen feeding (should their future families opt to feed them outdoors), as well as providing the ideal location to relieve themselves after their meal.

The puppies remain in their pen until most, if not all, of the pups have eliminated, usually within minutes of eating. At 5½ weeks of age, the pups were consistently using either pen for the majority of their “potty” needs.

Puppy Picnic

Mini Agility Equipment — 6 Weeks

Puppy Culture Protocol

At six weeks of age, the puppies are introduced to miniature agility equipment. The goal is not to teach the pups agility, but have them learn valuable life skills. The dogwalk is a small platform with ramps at either end. It teaches puppies to be confident when navigating up and down slopes, as well as standing on and crossing elevated surfaces. The teeter and wobble board get the pups used to being on something that moves under their feet. The chute is a barrel with a tube of fabric attached to it. The chute teaches the pups to walk under and through obstacles, and to accept things covering their heads.

Attention — 6 Weeks

Puppy Culture Protocol

When the puppies are six weeks old, they are taught the concept that attention (eye contact) is a behaviour that will be rewarded. The first step is to click and then treat (reinforce) any glance towards the eyes or direct eye contact. Once the pups comprehend that eye contact will be rewarded, the criteria for reinforcement is increased by adding duration, distractions, and different locations.

This clip shows the first session introducing the concept to a six week old puppy. It doesn’t take long for her to figure out that eye contact pays.

Introducing the Stack — 6 Weeks

Puppy Culture Protocol

When the litter is six weeks of age, pups that are show prospects are introduced to stacking. The first step involves teaching the pup that the act of being still will be rewarded. It doesn’t matter what the puppy is doing (i.e. sitting, standing). They are rewarded for being motionless. Criteria is raised slowly. They are introduced to a finger cue, duration is increased and then varied, and they become accustomed to having their feet repositioned.

Leash Walking — 7 Weeks

Puppy Culture Protocol

At seven weeks of age, the puppies begin walking on a leash. Surprisingly, this task is taught off leash. Initially, the pup is rewarded for being anywhere near the heel position. When they realize that being on the left side will be rewarded, we ask for them to take one step before clicking and treating, then two steps, and then three. Once they are taking a few steps at a time in heel position, we add the collar and start from the beginning. When the puppy is walking in the heel position with a collar, we attach the leash and begin the process once more.

Car Rides — 7 Weeks

Hannibal Newfs Protocol

Beginning at seven weeks of age, the puppies are introduced to car rides. The process begins by acclimating the pups to being crated in the van with the door open. Once they are comfortable in the crate, the doors are closed and immediately opened. The pups are given a treat, and the doors are closed for 30 seconds, then a minute, then two. The next step involves closing the doors and starting the van, and reinforcing calmness. The final step entails travel. The first trip is only 250 m (then length of our driveway and back). Trips are gradually lengthened, being careful to ensure the experience remains a positive one for the puppies.

Car Rides

Recall — 7 Weeks

Puppy Culture Protocol

Up until now, the puppies have responded to a “puppy call.” A puppy call is generally a high-pitched repetitive call, “Puppy-puppy-puppy!” The puppy call is used to call the litter at mealtimes. Because the puppy call is paired with food, it becomes a powerful conditioned reinforcer. [A conditioned reinforcer (i.e. puppy call) is anything that is paired with a primary reinforcer (i.e. food) in a way that ingrains the conditioned reinforcer with the impact of the primary reinforcer.] At seven weeks, we add the cue “come” to the puppy call, “Puppy-puppy-puppy! Come!” Because the recall cue is paired with the puppy call, it becomes equally compelling. Gradually, the puppy call will be faded, and all that will be left is the recall cue.

Targeting — 7 Weeks

Hannibal Newfs Protocol

At seven weeks of age, the puppies are introduced to targeting. The purpose of this exercise is to keep the pups thinking while encouraging them to continue to offer behaviours. Similar to their introduction to offering behaviours [at four weeks of age], a novel item is presented, and they are reinforced for any interaction.

For this exercise, a targeting ball on a rocker stand is used. The puppy is rewarded for looking at or touching the object.

Dog Door — 8 Weeks

Hannibal Newfs Protocol

When our puppies were eight weeks of age, we decided that a dog door was needed. After weeks of diligently working on their house-training, the pups were reliably going outside to potty when given the opportunity. A puppy door would provide them with 24/7 access to their potty area. The pups took to the dog door like Newfs to water.

Our next litter will be introduced to the puppy door at four weeks of age when they first move into the weaning pen.

Scent Test — 8 Weeks

Hannibal Newfs Protocol

When the puppies are eight weeks old, we perform a scent test. The pups are presented with three tubes, one of which contains an enticing smell. The containers are dropped at the puppy’s feet, and the pups are observed to see how they respond to the introduced items.

The test is somewhat subjective. We watch the pups to see how quickly and accurately they identify the tube that contains the scent. We also note their level of enthusiasm and determination, as well as how they interact with the container – nose, mouth, paw. The test is repeated multiple times.

Advanced Crate Training — 8 Weeks

Hannibal Newfs Protocol

When the puppies move into the weaning pen at four weeks of age, they are introduced to crates. For the first couple of weeks, the doors are clipped open and the pups are free to use them as they like, often napping in the crates by choice.

When the pups are six weeks of age, the doors are closed for brief periods. They are given a treat or chew item to enjoy while confined to their crate. By eight weeks of age, the puppies willing run into their crates for their meals. At this age, they are crated contently for extended periods.

Crate Training

Going to Town — 9 Weeks

Hannibal Newfs Protocol

Beginning at nine weeks of age, the puppies are taken on brief outings to expose them to environments away from their home. With a small litter, pups are taken individually. In a larger litter, pups would be taken in twos or threes, depending upon the location.

Their first outing is always to Sunderland, a small nearby town. The pups are exposed to pedestrians, traffic, sidewalks, the park, and post office. The experiences are catered to the personalities of each pup to ensure they are not overwhelmed. Bolder pups may enjoy walking down the main street; others might prefer sitting quietly on the bench watching the world unfold before them.


Meet the parents of the litter. See their photos, view and verify their health clearances.


Enjoy individual weekly photos of the pups from birth to 12 weeks of age.


Enjoy video of the puppies and dam from birth to 12 weeks of age.


Our pups are raised using the Puppy Culture protocols for rearing, socializing, and training.


Weights are charted daily from birth to 10 weeks, and then weekly until eight months.


Follow the progress of the litter and celebrate individual milestones for each pup.