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Avellanar Retriever: A Different Way of Breeding Dogs

The first stages of a puppy’s life are very important for his development. His first experiences are essential to prepare him for life. We pay a lot of attention on what our females do. We imitate their behaviour as far as we can within our human possibilities, in order to support the puppies’ development.


Birth is a very important moment for dogs, just as it is for humans. The state of the mother is essential; these look for a nice, comfortable and warm place, far from noise and the house entrance, therefore we avoid all that which can bother her or she may dislike at such an important moment. We listen to Mozart’s music, so present in our life, achieving in this way some of that quiet mothers seek.

At the moment of birth, the mother takes care of everything: she breaks the birth sac and the umbilical cord, and we help puppies to follow the mum’s scent toward the tit.




At around 13 days of age, puppies ears start to open and discern some sounds, responding to them, such as the cry of the mother when she comes from peeing, when she resembles to be counting them to make sure they’re all there. In the meantime we put Mozart’s music, as well as the radio so that they hear voices and other sounds in a soft tone.

Some days afterwards, at around 15 days of age, their eyes start opening and they can perceive movement, some colour and shapes. They start to stand clumsily, they stop crawling and make their first steps. We introduce daily objects gradually, like umbrellas, duvets, boxes, etc., so they are introduced to different textures through touch and their mouths, and colours through their eyes, even though it’s worth knowing that red and green are not perceived well by dogs.



At around their 21 days of age puppies start eating their first food other than milk, the dog food and water puree, as the mother leaves more time in between each milk sucking session gradually, allowing at the same time the visit of other family members, cats and dogs.  This is when they get to know in amazement the first adult dog who is not their biological mother. The adult, who may be a male or any of the females, treats them kindly, let them smell them. We prefer this adult to be a male, Prior, so they can notice he is very different to their mother.



Day after day, their sense of sight and hearing becomes more acute, and that’s why we start switching on the TV, sweeping, cooking, doing daily activities, so they may become familiar with such sounds and objects, and we give them the opportunity of touching them, chewing them… since it is through their mouths that they receive the greatest amount of information.




We take them outdoors for them to meet the rest of the canine family. Their relationship with the adults consolidates in a few hours, sometimes in just a few minutes after the introduction, which takes place in a kind atmosphere as they let themselves be smelled and checked by the adults.

Our dog Prior loves the puppies from the very moment of the introduction, in which he remains still and then licks them, cleaning them thoroughly until the puppies trust him enough to pull his lips or his tail after only a few minutes. At the start he washes their butts as with the excitement the puppies urinate more often, and next he focuses on cleaning their ears, eyes and fur more thoroughly. They go to Prior which tells us that this is nice for them. Some other dog, like Viña, Amets or Nut cleans them too, but only their eyes and ears, and not as long as Prior does.



All care for feeding the puppies. Sometimes their biological mother regurgitates food for them. Eureka does this a couple of times; Amets too; Indre does this more frequently and always with her own puppies. Regarding Nut, being only 11 months old, she’s regurgitated food more than once for Eureka’s puppies, this is the first time we see this. It might not be necessary since they’re feeding needs are well met, but Nut’s instinct is greater than mother-children kinship. 


Outdoors, they get to know the texture of sand, grass, concrete, metal sheets, everything we can provide them with to prepare them for their life, also wooden ramps to learn to keep their balance, plastic plant pots, fabrics, etc. We spread food around for them to find, we give them bread to taste, also apple, yogurt, olive oil and other foods they will surely be given by their future owners.


The adults start teaching them respect for others’ belongings, that is, not to bother someone who has something. The mother does this through food, but the rest of the pack do it when they have a stick, a piece of cardboard or any other object. They all do it the same way: they take something and leave it beside them, and when a puppy comes close they growl at him but after a little while they let him take the object, eat it or play with it.


This is the beginning of a very important stage which is learning bite inhibition. Learning this right will allow them relate to people and other dogs in a kind manner. Their mother, siblings and the rest of the pack engage in teaching them that they shall not bite hard.

Together they all teach the puppies different ways of playing, like breaking a box, a pot, or biting a tree branch.


And they also teach them good manners, like not bothering elder dogs. Larta takes care of this. Even though she is not too old, she is 8 years old, she has arthrosis, and growls at them if she feels they’re going to push her or bother her. The dogs also teach the puppies when to rest and stop playing, what to do if someone surpasses the limits when playing and so on, even though the puppies already know these signals, since calming signals are taught to them constantly and the adults teach them to use them for more than one situation. Other times, just one look is enough for the puppies to understand, and other times adults use growls, as is the case with Larta, who is very vocal. Seldom do adults show them teeth or push them abruptly.

We sometimes introduce new elements which will be habitual in their new lives, for instance, we take a walking stick and hit the ground with it, we put on hats, we step strongly on the metal sheets, make noise with cans, we hung pieces of cloth, we brush them softly, etc. All these experiences, as stated, shall be positive and done calmly, allowing the puppies investigate taking their time.

In this occasion we gave them Christmas tinsel:


During these weeks the puppies undergo a period when they are afraid of everything. Common things, like throwing water at them suddenly, surprises them. If they go on the ramps and these move they become still and look around for reference, or walk back a little, or sit down. The relationship of trust they have with the adults helps them to overcome this stage, together with our calm attitude, acting normal. Showing them new things in a relaxed manner also helps them.


Jake teaches them respect for others’ belongings and the puppies make calming signals and wait for the adult to give them his permission: