Four Weeks Old

So much has changed with the puppies in the last two weeks, and they are becoming a lot of fun! (A lot more work, but that’s okay.) I am beginning to see personalities, and the puppies can finally play for more than a minute or two at a time before getting tired out. They show interest in people, and they are starting to explore their world by sniffing, licking, and, of course, chewing.

Here are some of the highlights of the past two weeks:

  • Potty training! I use the Misty Method of early house training, which establishes a sleep area, a play/eating area, and a potty area. This gives the puppies a solid foundation for crate and house training once they go to their new homes. I’ll be honest, though- this litter has been a bit slower than some to catch on to potty training. Things are improving, but I had a very frustrating few days where they decided to sleep in the stinky potty box and pee on their bed. 😦 After a lot of insistence, I have convinced most of them to stop peeing on their bed. They are certainly far from perfect, but I am seeing definite progress.
  • Weaning time! This really shows how much the puppies have developed. They are now ready to begin transitioning off of Momma’s milk. I start with one meal a day and slowly work up to three meals a day, while decreasing the number of times they nurse from Mia. Right now, the food is softened while the puppies master how to chew. Because nutrition is such a huge part of a puppy’s overall health and well-being, I am very particular about the food I give them. For healthy puppies, we must start with a healthy diet. The puppies are starting on Life’s Abundance Small & Medium Breed Puppy Food. This food is jam-packed full of vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients. There are high quality proteins (so important!), DHA, antioxidants, guaranteed probiotics, prebiotic fiber, Omega-3, dietary fiber, and a host of healthy fruits and vegetables. I find that my puppies do very well on this food. With my past litters, I have not had trouble with vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, or constipation. I attribute a lot of that to Life’s Abundance food. Its excellent nutrition does very well for a puppy’s young and sensitive digestive system. SMPuppySm

Coming up in the next couple of weeks, we will continue weaning the puppies with the goal of having them fully weaned on unsoftened kibble by 7 weeks old. The puppies will also be getting their first vaccinations, their health exams, and they will be introduced to lots of new sights and sounds. I try to expose them to a variety of household and outdoor experiences to help get them accustomed to strange sights and sounds. This helps foster a calm and confident temperament. Of course, there is still a lot of socializing that needs to happen after the puppies leave my home at 8 weeks old, but I try to give them the best start that I can.

Also, one of the best things that I can do for the puppies in the next month is play with them! Simple, positive human interaction is one of the easiest and best ways to socialize young puppies. Reese is certainly having a lot of fun playing with the puppies now that they do more than just sleep. I have given them a few toys chew on and play with, but they truly enjoy getting human attention, whether its snuggling on an open lap, getting a belly scratch, or playing a little game of chase.

Yesterday, I took some pictures of the puppies. The individual pictures went very well (you can see them here), so I decided to try a group shot of all of the puppies. I have seen adorable pictures of puppies all lined up and looking sweetly at the camera. I thought surely I could get a picture like that. However, I learned that this is not a one-person job.

Perhaps I’ll try this again another day when I have someone to help me. 🙂

And one more picture for today. This little pup was SO tired after getting his picture taken. I hope the rest of your week is as relaxing as this!

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Two Weeks

It is a BITTERLY cold and windy day today. It’s the perfect kind of day to stay inside and snuggle puppies.

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The past two weeks have been pretty calm and uneventful, which is good! The puppies are steadily gaining weight. Mama Mia is doing well and caring for her pups like the very experienced mother she is. Since birth, the puppies have more than doubled their weight, most of them now weighing between 1.5 and 2 pounds, and their eyes recently opened.

Their main interests right now are eating and sleeping, but they are beginning to show little bits of awareness. Some of them are trying out their unsteady little legs, and I am seeing very brief playful interactions among them.

I am doing something new with this litter of puppies that I am excited about. It’s called an Early Neurological Stimulation Program. It is a program designed by the military in raising dogs for training. The goal of the program is to build a calm and confident temperament that can better handle stressful situations. The program is done during the first two weeks of life when a puppy’s brain is going through its most rapid development. It is a daily series of 5 exercises each done for 5 seconds, so it’s very brief and gentle.

  1. Touch in between the puppy’s toes.
  2. Hold the puppy with its nose towards the ceiling.
  3. Hold the puppy with its nose towards the floor.
  4. Cradle the puppy on its back in the palms of my hands.
  5. Place the puppy on a cool surface.

These exercises get the puppy accustomed to be handled, even in slightly uncomfortable positions, and this kind of handling is excellent as the very first stepping stones of socialization.

Another one of the exciting things to happen is that Reese finally got to hold the puppies! I made her wait until the puppies’ eyes were opening before I allowed her to hold them. She did a great job being gentle, but she still needs a lot of guidance. 🙂

Now that the puppies’ eyes are open, the next big event is potty training! I usually begin between 2.5 and 3 weeks old. Since the puppies can now see, they will soon begin exploring. The first new area I will introduce to them is a potty station. This will teach them not to pee or poop in their bed, which is the foundation for later crate training. It also helps minimize the mess for me! By having a specific potty area with either paper or shavings, it keeps the puppies, their bed, and their play area much cleaner! Any smell and mess is much easier to manage when it’s contained and not tracked around by seven sets of tiny paws.

Here are the updated individual pictures of the puppies. They are getting cuter every day! I chose cartoon character names for this litter. Enjoy!

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Winnie (the Pooh)

 

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Charlie (Brown)

 

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Lucy

 

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Calvin

 

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Hobbes

 

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Micky (Mouse)

 

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Minnie (Mouse)

Call the Midwoof!

It’s a happy Sunday here today! Mia safely delivered seven puppies this morning, all without any assistance from me. I am grateful and excited for a couple reasons. First, SEVEN puppies! After delivering a single pup via c-section a little over a year ago, seven puppies seems like such a crowd. Secondly, I am very grateful for an easy, natural delivery. Although I didn’t need to intervene, I cautiously watched from the sidelines. My vet didn’t have any concerns about Mia’s ability to deliver naturally; but, of course, a little extra vigilance on my part was certainly warranted. The only thing I did was give her some liquid calcium to help with efficient contractions, and I am very pleased with how things went!

A little bit of surprise this time. We have our very first apricot puppy! Mia is an apricot color, and we have always used a red Mini Poodle stud. Our previous litters have only had red puppies, with very slight variations in darkness. This time, though, we have a few shades of red and one very distinct apricot. It’s fun to see the beauty in variety!

Here is a group shot of our seven beautiful fur babies- five males and two females. I’ll post individual pictures of the puppies in a few days. Enjoy your Sunday!

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Christmas and New Year’s with Our Crew

Now that Christmas is over, I am finally taking some time to sit down and breathe again. I love the holidays, but they are definitely a busy time! It makes me appreciate the calm and quiet that comes in January.

Except, I’m not sure how much “calm and quiet” I will be getting this January. The year ahead is going to be a fun and exciting year! (I’m pretty sure I say that every year.) We’re starting 2019 off with a bang, hoping for Mia’s next litter of puppies to be born in the beginning of the month. Then, we will have Reese’s second birthday. I can’t believe she’s almost two!

Then, around the time Mia’s litter is heading to new homes, we are crossing our fingers that a litter of Irish Setters will arrive.

AND THEN! In the midst of all that crazy puppy fun, we are anticipating the arrival of our own sweet baby boy!

Of course, life doesn’t always go according to my schedule, but this is what we are planning for the coming months. To be honest, it looks a bit overwhelming to be caring for two litters of puppies during the last months of pregnancy and over the time that Baby will be born. But at the same time, I will feel very grateful if the Lord blesses us with two litters of puppies. I think the distraction and busyness of puppies will help the last months of pregnancy to fly by, and I certainly won’t complain about that!

There are a few verses that come to mind as I prepare to tackle the exciting, stressful, overwhelming, and amazing months ahead. After all, it will be by God’s grace and strength alone that I will be able to cheerfully and gracefully navigate the next big changes of life.

“And He said unto me ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas time, and we wish you the Lord’s blessing in the new year!

Reese posing with Mommy…

and Daddy!

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Zach, Reese, and Mia when we cut our Christmas tree

Jade striking the most beautiful pose

Timber living his best life- happy and always on the move

Duchess working on getting the treats from her new Wobble Ball treat dispenser

Taking the Good and the Bad

As the title implies, this blog post is sharing some good news and some bad news. That’s life, though, isn’t it? Not every thing works out like we wish it would or think it should. But God is always good!

Bad news first. Jade went to the vet yesterday, and an ultrasound confirmed that she is not pregnant. We are obviously very disappointed! We were very excited about her potential litter this year, and we were looking forward to seeing the beautiful puppies she would have. However, she fooled us again.

I had initially been very optimistic. Her breeding went very well, she showed some appetite changes in the weeks after breeding, and her vulva has stayed slightly swollen. All of these things are good signs for pregnancy. However, about a week before her ultrasound, I began checking her underbelly. Another one of the first signs of pregnancy is changes in the nipples. They often become a little larger and change to a noticeably flushed pink color. I did not notice any of that for Jade, and I began to suspect she wasn’t carrying any puppies.

Since this is her second failed breeding, we are planning to do some testing before her next heat cycle. We will also try for a natural breeding next time, rather than AI (artificial insemination). That means we will not be trying for Mini Goldendoodles next time, since mini’s usually require artificial breeding. It is suspected (though not known for sure) that some dogs due to variations in individual fertility or shape/tilt of the reproductive organs may not be able to get pregnant via AI. There are a lot of unknown factors and possibilities with breeding; and for some dogs, it becomes a game of trial and error! So now we get to wait and try again later, but the third time is the charm, right?

Now on to the good news! Jade’s doctor visit was not the only one that happened this week. This morning I made a trip to the doctor myself, and I got to hear a tiny little beating heart!

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Lord willing, our family will get a new little addition in the spring! New life is such a blessing, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to bring a sweet new being into the world in a few months.

There are also some other really exciting things happening around here! We are opening up a small dog and puppy supply shop! I am always looking for ways to give our puppies’ new families a better “puppy experience.” That’s one of the reasons I started this blog. I felt like it gives a window into our lives, and it allows waiting families to watch their puppy growing. Opening our shop will help give our puppies’ families additional resources. Because of our experience with dogs and puppies, we feel like we have a lot to offer families buying a new puppy. One way we thought we can serve them better is by offering a place to buy products we personally use and recommend. These are products we know are safe, healthy, durable, and reputable. So after spending a lot of time shopping around and researching various companies, we have put together a small shop full of practically EVERYTHING you need for a new puppy. I will be posting more about our new shop soon, and you’ll see some new pages added on to the website showing the brands and items we will be carrying.

Until then, I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week!

Gun Dogs, Summertime, and Rodents

Things have been pretty quiet around here for the last few months. We are enjoying a break from puppies for a few months, and life has just been going on as normal!

Normal for us anyway. We have four bird dogs (3.5 maybe). Raising and training gun dogs changes your perception of a normal day.

For example, I finish my morning coffee, slip on my battered flip-flops, and head out to feed the dogs and let them out of their pens for the day. As I walk through the dewy grass, enjoying the warm summer morning, I am greeted by an exuberant Timber. He is prancing about with his tail wagging wildly. In his mouth, he is daintily carrying a dead bird, and he is SO excited to show me.

Mmmm, who doesn’t just love disposing of a dead bird first thing after their morning coffee?

Then later that same week, we repeat this same story, except Timber has a dead mouse.

Then we repeat the story again, and he has a OPPOSUM.

Mind you, each of these creatures was caught by Timber while he was in his pen over night. This dog is a hunting ninja.

What’s very interesting about each of these incidents, is the demonstration of a bird dog’s “soft mouth.” Every time I have found Timber or one of the other dogs carrying a dead bird or rodent, the animal is physically undamaged. Bird dogs have an instinct to catch, hold, and retrieve birds without damaging their feathers. They do not have the instinct to bite or shred. The times that bird dogs do kill their hunted prey, they do it pretty much by playing with them. Which I will illustrate with this story.

We were enjoying a pleasant evening outside, sitting on our lawn chairs when we saw the dogs furiously digging. Then suddenly they all started a mad scramble in random directions. A very unwise mother rabbit had built a nest in our yard. She had managed to raise her babies partway to adulthood before our dogs found them. The dogs unearthed five baby rabbits. One hopped away to safety in our neighbor’s yard, and the other four were each scooped up by one of our dogs. Again, we saw the soft mouths in action. The dogs simply raced around the yard, carrying these live baby rabbits in their mouths. They would drop them in the grass, let them hop a few feet, pounce on them, and then pick them up again. Timber dropped his and rolled on it. Feeling sorry for the rabbits, we chased after the dogs. Unfortunately, two people chasing four dogs isn’t very successful. Of the four baby rabbits, only one was dead by the time we were able to round them up, and I think that was the one Timber rolled on multiple times.

This last summer tale is probably the one that makes me the most proud. 🙂 We bought a batch of pheasant chicks this spring to raise for field training our Irish Setters. We kept them at our place for the first few weeks, and then we moved them to my parent’s place. (Otherwise, our setters would go crazy with a bunch of pheasants around!) When the chicks were almost big enough to move out, a couple escaped their pen when I opened the door to feed them. I was able to catch one of them, but the second one eluded me. He scampered about for several days, hiding in the bushes along the front of the house where the dogs can’t go. Pheasants like to hide in thick brush and bushes, and they can run FAST! They do fly, but they often try to outrun predators before taking to the air.

One afternoon, I found him pecking around the pen where the rest of the pheasants were. I tried to catch him, but he dashed into my tea patch. It was too thick for me to see where he was. Mia was out with me, and she saw the bird run into the tea patch. She flushed him out; and with surprising agility, she caught him! I was amazed! I had never seen Mia do something like that. She held him down with her paws- one paw over his head and the other over his body. When I tried to pick him up, he got away again, running at full speed with his wings flapping. I thought he was gone for good, but Mia raced after him, made a wild pounce, and caught him again! My heart nearly burst with pride.

It was so much fun to see those hunting instincts in my sweet, little Mia. Those inborn instincts to catch and hold are strong and can come out at the most unexpected times, even in dogs that have never been specifically trained to hunt.

That’s just a sampling of the fun and crazy things my dogs are doing this summer. If you have a good story of your hunting (or non-hunting) dog catching sometime crazy, I’d love to hear it!

First Post of the New Year

I feel like I have been Missing In Action the past month and a half. Poor Faith hasn’t had a blog post update since she was born. And weekly pictures? Phew, this poor darling hardly has any pictures taken of her.

But, we are all still here, just doing normal life. Mia healed very well from her c-section and is back to her happy, normal self. She will be getting about a year off before having another litter, but there isn’t any concern about her ability to carry and deliver more puppies naturally. Good news!

Dear Faith is growing like a weed. She’s already six weeks old! Weaning has been going slowly, but it can be that way with single pups. They don’t have the competition of other puppies for food, so they don’t really have much desire to try things other than mama’s milk. Otherwise, though, she’s doing very well! She’s active and is enjoying our puppy play dates with a litter of puppies from another breeder. She loves playing with our daughter, and our daughter is equally as delighted have a little buddy crawling around on the floor with her.

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As for our other dogs, we were hoping to have two litters this spring- one from Duchess and one from Jade. Duchess’s pregnancy is confirmed, and I was confident that Jade was pregnant, as well. However, she fooled us! An ultrasound showed no babies in there! She seems to be going through a bit of a false pregnancy, which is common with female dogs. They can show very convincing signs of pregnancy, even to the point of producing milk, but still not be pregnant. Typically, the hormones cycle through and everything goes back to normal all on its own. We’re still very excited for Duchess’s litter of Irish Setters, and we’ll try for some Mini Goldendoodle puppies from Jade again in the fall!

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Duchess, in the meantime, is eating up a storm! I’ve stopped counting how many cups of food I give her a day. She’s now approximately six weeks pregnant, which is the time that I begin free-feeding my mama’s. I let them eat as much food as they want, and I often supplement them with an egg or vitamin every day. Her belly is growing, and she’s slowing down a bit. She still runs, but she tires quickly. I should soon be able to feel the puppies moving when she is lying still. A few more weeks and then I’ll have some more sweet setter babies from these two gorgeous dogs!

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In other household news, my baby turned one this month! And she started walking! I suppose she is now my toddler and not so much my baby. That is a little hard for this mama to accept. She is my social, giggly little girl, and I thank God every day for allowing me to be her mother.

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Mmm, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic with the passing of the one year mark. Soak in the time with your loved ones this week. Life goes by much too quickly.

 

 

 

Faith

I now have something new to add to my list of dog breeding experiences. This one will go under the category of “Not as Bad as I Thought, But No Need to Repeat.”

We knew Mia was having a small litter this time around, because of her small belly and because I could only feel fetal movement on one side. I was hoping for at least two puppies, but I was suspicious Mia was having another singleton.

As we near every delivery, I begin to track my girls’ temperatures. About 24 hours before delivery, I can usually spot a sudden drop in temperature. This drop in temperature comes from the release of hormones that begin labor.

Mia’s temperature is usually 99-101 degrees. When her temperature drops, I often see readings as low as 98.2. The lowest I ever saw was 97.9. In the past, Mia has followed a very consistent pattern. I’ll see a temperature drop early in the morning. She will act fairly normal, but refuse to eat that day. As we near evening, she will begin nesting. Active labor usually starts around midnight, and her puppies are born very quickly and easily.

I saw a temperature of 98.8 on Wednesday morning, so I thought puppies were coming Wednesday night. Nothing happened.

Thursday morning her temperature was 98.2. I thought, “Ok! This time is the real deal!” I was sure puppies were coming Thursday night. Nothing happened.

Friday morning, again, her temperature was in the 98’s. So I took her to the vet to see what was going on. This was not normal for Mia. Although her temperature indicated something wasn’t right, Mia was not acting stressed or uncomfortable. She still wanted to play fetch and seemed to be her fine, happy self; but my instincts told me something was off!

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Mia waiting patiently at the vet’s office

A check up at our vet showed only one puppy! The puppy’s heart rate was normal, and Mia checked out perfectly. My vet didn’t want to rush into a c-section when everything seemed to be okay. But we discussed the fact that with only one puppy, there sometimes is not enough hormone to start contractions. However, from all outward appearances, there was no cause for concern… yet.

So we waited another night. Nothing happened.

By this point, I wasn’t surprised. After seeing three normal deliveries from Mia, I knew this one was not normal; and I was pretty sure that this puppy was not going to come naturally.

Saturday morning (now three days after I thought labor started), we went to the vet again to monitor the puppy. Mia was still acting normal, but the puppy’s heart rate had dropped, indicating it was in distress. It was not in proper position to be born, so, unfortunately, inducing labor wasn’t an option.

Sweet Mia had to have a c-section. All things considered, everything went as smoothly as possible. The surgery went well, and recovery has been progressing normally. Both mama and baby are doing great! Mia is definitely feeling more sore and uncomfortable than after a natural delivery, but she is still being an excellent mama.

The puppy, a female which we have named Faith, seems to be doing well. She even gained a bit of weight in the first 24 hours. She is totally red and weighed 7.7 ounces.

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We also came home with an arsenal of post-surgery medications! Mia’s not super impressed with her pills, but she doesn’t notice when I hide them in a hunk of sticky peanut butter. 😉

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The coming days will be filled with rest and recovery. Even though we had to do a c-section, we are counting our blessings that we have a healthy mama and puppy! Thanks for reading! 🙂

National Dog Day 2017

Happy National Dog Day! In honor of this special day, here is a mish-mash of pictures of my dogs from today.

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I just love that happy Golden smile and the distracted setter stare.

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Timber and Mia having a good chase.

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I finally got some decent pictures of this handsome boy. He’s always on the move, so it’s hard to catch him in a nice pose.

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There’s nothing quite as beautiful as a setter on point! (This isn’t a true point, but he’s alert and scenting something interesting.)

Of course, I can’t do a blog post without a puppy update! Duchess and her babies are doing very well! Duchess is back to her happy, lively self; and all the puppies are growing and active. In comparison to the first week, the last two weeks have been a BREEZE! I feel like we are back on track and back to normal. Praise God! The puppies’ eyes have opened, and they are on their unsteady little feet. We have added a potty area for them, and they are already beginning to use it and keep their bed a little cleaner. (These setters are going to be some sharp little pups!)

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This is my happy place.

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Magnum

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Enjoy this beautiful, sunny weekend! Post a picture of your dog on National Dog Day in the comments- I love seeing your furry friends!

 

 

Munchy Monday: Tasty Rewards

Happy Monday! Did you all enjoy the beginning of your week? Things are quite a bit quieter in my home this evening. Today, Stanley left for his new home, so all of Mia’s babies are now with their new families. (I forgot to get a picture of Stanley with his family, so, unfortunately, I can’t post a final picture of him.)

I’m often asked if it’s hard for me to see the puppies go. It’s a difficult question to answer. Part of me does miss them, and it’s bittersweet to see them leave. I have spent the last several months preparing for them to be born and caring for them as they grew. But in all honesty, I always take a big sigh of relief once they’re gone. As sad as it is to see them go, I know everyone is better off. Once the puppies hit eight weeks old, I simply can not give them the time and attention that they need! They need individual attention and training. They need more space and stimulation and new experiences. I can’t meet all of their needs, but I know that their new families can. I know that they will be so much happier in a home where they can get the individual love and attention they need.

With these things in mind, I’ll be taking a brief look at Life’s Abundance Tasty Rewards for my Munchy Monday post. I picked this particular treat this week, since I’m sure each of my puppies’ families is beginning training.

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Treats are a great motivator for most dogs when it comes to training. All of our dogs (except Timber) are very food-motivated. They can be on their worst behavior; and all I have to do is whip out some yummy treats, and I am suddenly surrounded by patient, eager angels.

When training, it’s best to have very small treats. Puppies especially will be consuming a fairly large number of treats with their training, so it’s important to watch that you don’t overfeed them with treats. It’s easy to allow puppies to get pudgy and overweight, so watching the calories consumed with treats is important.

Tasty Rewards are perfect for puppies. They are soft, making them very easy for puppies to eat. Also, this makes them easy to break apart into small pieces that are perfect for training.

The best part about these treats is the fact that they are healthy! Many other kinds of treats are simply empty calories, but Tasty Rewards are a yummy and nutritious snack! They’re loaded with proteins, minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids.

So to my puppies’ families, let the training begin! Happy treating!



Interested in ordering?
 You can order from the Life’s Abundance site. When ordering through our page, you should see Kristen’s Happy Tails listed at the top of the page as the Field Rep. If I am not listed as your representative, please mention my ID number when you place your first order- 20552921. As your representative, I am able to help you determine what products are right for your pet and answer any questions you may have.