The Neonatal Period lasts for approximately the first 2 weeks. During this time the puppies eyes and ears are closed. We weigh the puppies daily, charting their progress on their individual record forms. Any pups that don't gain are supplemented with a little bit of either homemade or commercial goat milk formula. (We prefer homemade if we have goats in milk, or frozen milk previously stored from our goats.)
(I call the puppies "baked potatoes" during this time because that's what they look like!)
We have everything we need for our daily puppy care routine at out fingertips in our Puppy Parlor: baby scale and kitchen scale for weighing puppies, individual record sheets, ENS/ESI supplies, sheep paint for marking pups, bottles and formula for supplementing as needed and all the charts for puppy enrichment laminated and at eye level on the cabinets.
A mixing bowl and a food scale is perfect for weighing puppies - for about a week! After that we move to an infant scale. Then by about a month or so we move to a dog scale. These pups grow so fast! But getting regular weights is important, both for ensuring the puppies are gaining as well as for properly dosing regular parasite prevention. To see our parasite and vaccine protocol and products we use go here.
ENS & ESI
During the Neonatal Period we do Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) and Early Scent Introduction (ESI) with the puppies. ENS and ESI are discontinued once the puppies' eyes begin to open, which is actually closer to 1-1.5 weeks for Maremma puppies.
Benefits of Early Neurological Stimulation
With Early Scent Introduction we focus mostly on introducing "farm scents" like goat hair, poultry feathers, hay and other scents to our puppies, mixing in a few household scents for variety. Interestingly enough every single one of Marcella's puppies showed a distinct interest in the goat hair scent, sticking their noses deep into the canister to sniff it.
Notes on Early Neurological Stimulation
Early Neurological Stimulation is not the same as socialization. It’s not giving the puppies toys or enrichment items. It’s not exposure to livestock. It is a very specific set of exercises designed to stress the puppies very slightly, and can only be performed in the first 2 weeks.
It's important to keep the puppies' nails trimmed regularly so that they don't scratch their dams, which could lead to infected teats or mastitis. Keeping the nails trimmed also ensures the puppies are able to gain good footing as the begin walking, which, with Maremma puppies, is as soon as one week old! Cat nail trimmers are perfect for trimming puppy nails.
Author Hi I'm Kim. I love all animals but goats and dogs are my favorites so I built a business around them, breeding miniature dairy goats and Maremma Sheepdogs. I love sharing my passion and knowelege of these amazing creatures with others.