Keeping our puppies clean is half our battle in puppy-rearing. It is an unbelievable amount of work. The reason many breeders do not raise their puppies in the right place (around daily family activity) is because if you do that you have to actually do all the work to keep them clean. That or you have to love the smell of poop. Lots of poop. And the sight of it too. Not just little piles of adorable puppy poop but poo smeared all over the walls and ground into the papers and stuck to cute little puppy fur.
Keeping our puppies kissably clean is a full-time job!
Many people really have no idea how messy rearing a litter of puppies really is. But let me dispel any myths as of now: puppies are poo factories. Puppies are unable to hold their waste for any length of time prior to about 6 weeks of age, and from 6-10 weeks of age it really varies puppy to puppy how long one can go between bathroom trips.
So prior to about 6 weeks our puppies potty constantly. And I mean constantly. And when you have 8 little bodies with the floor as a diaper… well things get messy very fast. Puppies don’t like walking through their waste but they will do it until they’re old enough to avoid it (and if they’ve been allowed to wallow in it by this point they won’t care about spraying it everywhere while wrestling with one another). And even when they try to avoid it as they get older they don’t do a very good job of this.
So constant cleaning of the puppy box is a must. That or throw your litter onto a concrete slab outside or in a kennel nursery where no one can smell them and hose the concrete off once a day. That is kennel rearing for you. Easier money, isn’t it? Yes, ma’am. Better for the dog? No way. Not at all.
What really goes into cleaning out the puppy box (a task which must be done about 3 times a day for newborn puppies and increased by 1 for every week until the puppies begin to wean. Then you can increase that number by 2 for each week until puppies go home.
So what goes into a simple puppy nursery box cleaning?
- wash our hands
- take each puppy out of their nursery box
- wipe puppy paws and faces (which are pretty gross usually) with baby wipes
- place puppies in large, safe space lined in newspaper
- remove soiled papers and all the little pieces if they’ve torn any up (why, yes they have)
- remove soiled soaker pads under the paper
- sanitize floor with puppy-safe cleanser
- replace soaker pads with freshly laundered ones
- cut a sheet of paper and place paper under walls of box to hold paper down
- scrub (and scrub and scrub) walls of puppy nursery/whelping box which are covered with yucky stuff using puppy safe sanitizer and once a week (at least) with a steam-cleaner
- replace all our puppies in their nursery box
- throw away (the now soiled) newspaper in the puppies’ temporary pen
- sanitize the plastic puppy baby-sitter temporary pen with safe cleanser
- tie off and throw away trash bag full of yucky stuff
- wash our hands
Seems like a lot of steps, right? It doesn’t take a horrific amount of time, but it isn’t exactly a 5 minute job, either. Now that our puppies are weaning we have a very busy set routine each morning that does take a lot of time (but is completely necessary). I thought I’d share our morning routine and then share some pictures, too.
So here is the morning routine:
- greet puppies and let adult dogs outside to potty
- change filthy puppy papers and underlying pads (steps listed above)
- Prepare and then feed the puppies their breakfast
- feed the grown up dogs their breakfast (after letting them back inside)
- hand wash puppy feeding bowls/pans in hot soapy water and leave to air dry
- Go and survey the “damage” from breakfast
- Every other day a full puppy bath/groom/dry is required to keep the puppies from being unacceptably filthy (every single day would be preferable, to be honest, maybe even twice a day, but that wouldn’t be good for our puppies’ skin)
- clean the puppy box all over again because it is disgusting again. Really. Only omit replacing the underlying soaker pads until half-way through the day.
Now this is quite time-consuming as you can imagine. I am not terribly fussy when it comes to our puppies, either. I just want to prevent our home from smelling completely like puppy poo. And even with a routine like this (followed by a box cleaning every three hours and before as well as after every single meal) my house still mostly smells like puppy poop when we have a litter. This is particularly not-fun when one is pregnant!
The worst and most time-consuming box cleaning is done first thing in the morning (naturally) and all box cleanings thereafter aren’t nearly as bad. But oh-that first morning mess. Whew! How can something so little and so adorable make such a disgusting mess? This seems to be a common thought of mine when it comes to baby things in my home.
So if you every find yourself wondering why many breeders refrain from posting photographs of their puppies this is very probably why. Puppies over the age of about 5 weeks require a bath prior to picture time… and forget trying to photograph them in their nursery.
Here are some photos of our sweet little just-beginning-to-wean puppies. In these photos our puppies have been fully cleaned and then fed their meal and are ready for another cleaning. If you’re wondering how messy a puppy pen could possibly get in the 10 minute span between placing them into a completely clean and dry environment and then offering them a little food… well, here you go. And in case you’re wondering these photos are an extremely clean example.
So what exactly is all of that on the floor? It is mostly liquid from their food bowl. They put their feet into their food, the little turkeys, but you know what most animals that walk the earth do right after eating… and baby dogs are no exception. Some of this moisture is waste, too.
This was a little earlier in the meal. I tried so hard to catch the moment but I missed it. Cocoa was asleep with her face in the food bowl. Now she has her little tongue sticking out like “what? I was totally awake. I was just resting my eyes. See? I’m eating.”
This is the morning after a bath so the little devils will skip a bath for now and just get a cleaned out pen before being permitted to take a nap. Then we’ll wake up and potty and play a little before we eat again!