How We Raise Our Puppies

Everyone loves puppies, they are so cute and sweet, but did you know there are important developmental periods your puppy will go through before ever joining your household?

Puppy raising is an art and a science. Do something at the right time, the puppy benefits for it’s entire life, do the same thing at an inappropriate time, and the puppy can be damaged for it’s entire life. We want to raise puppies who will grow into confident, stable, and resilient adult dogs, able to handle the stresses and challenges of a modern lifestyle. This takes both expertise and a time investment, but it’s totally worth it.

In our desire to raise the most behaviorally sound, confident, stable puppies possible we implemented the game changing Puppy Culture puppy raising, training, and socialization protocols and been extremely pleased with the results we have seen. While we, along with countless other responsible breeders, have always sought to give our puppies the best start we could, the extremely well researched Puppy Culture protocols have allowed us to improve on our old protocol considerably. Puppy Culture is taking the dog world by storm and has been implemented and embraced by the worlds best breeders, trainers, and countless puppy families. We are proud to work alongside these amazing breeders who are all committed to producing the most behaviorally sound dogs possible.

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Week 1-2

Australian Shepherds develop very quickly and have a strong desire to be clean. As early as 14 days they will attempt to move far away from their bed to void. So we introduce a small “toilet” area for the puppies at this age, and a small bed. This helps even these tiny puppies to define a resting area and a toilet area preserving their natural desire to be clean. Clean puppies are easier to house train later, and have fewer accidents. Every week we continue to build upon this house training plan.  The whelping box is cleaned several times a day.  We perform ENS on every puppy read this link for more information on ENS and the benefits of doing it in young puppies.  Puppies are handled, weighed, and temperature taken daily.     

Week 3

Puppies receive an expertly enriched environment, the benefits of which will last a lifetime. This continues every week until puppies leave. 

Puppies begin receiving visitors as socialization starts.  Startle Recovery exercises prime puppies for the challenges of a busy life.  Foundation exercises for the prevention of separation anxiety.  Puppies are handled daily and we begin to make their area larger to allow for potty training to continue to improve. 



Week 4


Puppies are moved into a larger weaning pen, with age appropriate enrichment. Emotional Resiliency Exercises are done, giving the puppies the gift of “bounce back” from life challenges.

Problem solving games are introduced, these help puppies learn to handle life’s frustrations early.

Crate training starts!  Crates are introduced to the weaning pen (doors removed) comfy beds are placed inside to encourage puppies to nap in crates.

Potty Training: Puppies are beginning to get more consistent about using the potty box to empty.  They still make mistakes and are encouraged to potty in correct areas.  

Weaning: We start to introduce raw food to begin the weaning process.  At this age they are still mostly nursing but they start to show interest in yummier options!  

Veterinary care:  No vaccines are given.  We trim nails, bathe, brush, blow out and practice being handled on a grooming table.  

week 5

Puppies learn to communicate with us in socially acceptable ways, learning the Communication Trinity, how to solve problems, and finding their voice.

Clicker training starts and puppies start learning their core skills: Attention, Manding (asking politely), Come.

Fear starts: At five weeks puppies are for the first time, capable of experiencing true fear. We expertly guide the puppies through their fear period, avoiding any experience that might cause lifelong fear problems, and building more emotional resilience as we go along.


Crate Training: Puppies are fed in crates and encouraged to run into their crates.

Potty Training: Puppies are now seeking out the potty box and are fairly successful at making it consistently.

Weaning: Puppies are now eating raw fairly well as well as nursing off of mom.  They are allowed to eat as much as they want.  They are also given large raw recreational foods such as goat/sheep legs and turkey necks. 

Veterinary care:  No vaccines are given.  We trim nails, bathe, brush, blow out and stack for the first time. 

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Week 6

We continue to expertly guide puppies with just the right amount of socialization. In week 6 we strongly encourage future puppy owners to visit their puppies and participate in their growth! These hugely important socialization and training events are designed to expose puppies to just the right experiences at the right time.

Novel people of all shapes, ages, and sizes are introduced, our expert care ensures the puppies have positive responses during these important “first” meetings, because a scary meeting at this age can cause lifelong fear.

Puppies show off their enrichment seeking abilities and build confidence on novel object challenges. They learn to love strange and unusual footing, heights, and noises. Sessions are kept short, puppies have naps and learn to relax when visitors come over, all skills they will need in their new homes.

But don’t think the puppy party is just for the puppies. Those fortunate puppy families who can attend also benefit, you will learn how to communicate and teach your puppy using marker training, how to prevent common undesired behaviors (like nipping or jumping up), and how to respond if they do occur. We discuss nutrition, crate training, house training, puppy training, and supplies. It’s a learning experience for all!

Crate Training:  Puppies nap in crate with door open and eat in crate with door closed.  They are encouraged to go to their crates and when they do, they get a treat. 

Car Training: Puppies play in the car, engine off and go for their first car ride, usually around the block.  This helps prevent car sickness in the future.  

Potty Training: Puppies are now seeking out the potty box and are fairly successful at making it consistently.  We also now let them roam a bit more and they are encouraged to seek out a potty box even when it is fairly far away.  They also begin to potty outside and we start teaching them to potty on command. 

Weaning: Puppies are now eating raw almost exclusively and mom is usually avoiding nursing.  The puppies will still snag a snack off of mom but are mostly weaned.  They are allowed to eat as much as they want both with raw and off of mom.  From 6 weeks on, puppies and mom decide when and how much they nurse if at all.  Each puppy will wean in their own time.  Nursing is now more comfort than nutrition.  They are also given large raw recreational foods such as goat/sheep legs and turkey necks. 

Veterinary care:  Puppies are wormed as is the dam and they are given their first set of shots DHPP.  We trim nails, bathe, brush, blow out and stack.  First evaluations are done to determine structure and movement as well as temperament.  From this age on, puppies are stacked weekly and given the full salon treatment. 

Week 7

Problem behavior prevention protocols are started.

We teach the puppies to LOVE having someone take their food, food bowl, toys, bones, and other items. This helps prevent resource guarding later.

Training: We begin to teach the puppies to sit on cue, come when called, give a toy, and target

Crate Training: Crate training continues to be taught  We work on the following: Enter crate when asked.  Eat in crate with door closed.  Chew bone in crate with door closed.  Nap (30-90 minutes max) in crate with door closed.

Car Training:  Puppies chew bones in the car with the engine running.  Puppies go on a 15-20 minute drive and are taught to be quiet while riding.  

Potty Training: Puppies are now consistently using the potty box or the grass to potty. Pottying on/off leash and on different surfaces is encouraged. 

Weaning: Puppies are now eating exclusively raw food and are on at least 4 types of protein and following the 80/10/5/5 prey model raw diet. They are also given large raw recreational foods such as goat/sheep legs and turkey necks. 

Veterinary care:  Puppies visit a certified ophthalmologist and eyes are cleared.  This is also the time any health certifications and micro-chipping occurs.  Full salon treatment and puppies are stacked, evaluated and photos taken.  


Week 8

Puppies go to their new homes!  But, before that, full evaluations are done to make final decisions about which puppy goes to which home. We do NOT decide which puppy goes to which family until these evaluations are completed.  We know it is SO hard to wait but 8 weeks is the best age to determine these crucial decisions.  We also bring in several other reputable breeders to make their own evaluation to get a unbiased opinion on each puppy.  Each puppy is carefully examined and tested for temperament, structure, movement and energy level.  We then make decisions based on your needs/wants and the best placement for the puppy.  In one litter we can have vastly different personalities and we know our puppies best, please trust our advise! 

    Veterinary care:  Puppies are wormed and given their last shot with us. Full salon treatment and puppies are stacked, evaluated and photos taken. 

    Our Puppy Families also learn more about:

    • The first week at home.
    • House Training.
    • Biting and nipping prevention.
    • Core training skills.
    • Finding a safe and suitable puppy class.
    • Finding safe and suitable puppy playmates.
    • How to effectively and safely socialize.
    • How to use Environmental Enrichment to prevent problems.

    Week 9 - 1 year old

    These first weeks in the new home are the most crucial!  New parents are encouraged to do the following: 

    • Enter a puppy class on a weekly basis until at least 6 months old. 
    • Take potty training very seriously and all attempts to have the puppy potty outside every 4 hours
    • Never leave the puppy "loose" or alone in the house or yard.  Puppies should be on leash, in a crate or watched constantly by an adult. 
    • Adhere to a rigid walk/play/feed/walk
    • Puppies should eat and sleep in their crates.  Puppies should not be crated for more than 4 hours (6 hours at night) and need at least a 45 minute play/feed/walk break from being crated.  If you work full time, you will need to work out a schedule with reliable family and friends and you may need to hire a dog walker to come and care for your puppy until 1 year old!  
    • Feed on a regular schedule. Three times a day until week 12 and then two times a day after 12 weeks old. 
    • Take on excursions as frequently as possible, at least once a week.  Dog parks/beaches and pet stores are discouraged until 5 months old.  However, starting at 9 weeks you can take them to sporting events, outdoor malls, ferry rides, outdoor festivals, restaurant patios, home improvement stores.  You would be shocked how many stores are dog friendly!  When in doubt, ask!  We also can help you come up with ideas for socialization! 
    • Exercise both the mind and the body.  It is very important to give Aussies mental stimulation.  A kong toy, recreational bone or quick 15 minute training session will do wonders to calm a puppy's busy mind.  Ask us for ideas to keep your puppy busy as they grow and mature.  
    • Keep in mind, the first 2 years of a dogs life are the time they grow and mature the most.  They are also the hardest time on the owners.  It is a lot of work to raise a puppy!  We know this and want to do everything we can to help you.  Please communicate if you are feeling overwhelmed.  There are a ton of things you can do to make puppy raising fun, rewarding and very successful!