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When the weather permits, I’ll bring the puppies outdoors in the yard and scatter their food in a small area of short grass. They busily search out each kibble. Not only does this slow down the speed of which they eat, but there is an interesting side benefit to this, as well. It encourages them to bring their head down to the ground and learn to use their nose… at just five or six weeks old!

The effect is lasting. Even when I bring the pups outdoors just to play or to take a walk out into the field, you’ll see those little heads come down as they discover new and interesting scents.

The dynamics within the litter is interesting to observe. The individual personality of the puppies begins to emerge at the time when they are weaned - usually at around five weeks old. Traits, such as being independent, a bully, or leader of the pack do not always fall to the largest males. More often than not, there will be a female pup who decides that she’s the boss. And you can bet that she will not let her siblings forget it!

By the same token, the smallest pup is not necessarily a "runt". Sometimes, as was the case with the resourceful little female mentioned earlier, the smallest pup was the smartest.

Loretta Baughan

Loretta Baughan is the Founder, Editor and Publisher of Spaniel Journal. As owner of the Autumnskye kennel, she raises, trains and hunts her English Springer Spaniels. She is a member of the Northeast Wisconsin Spaniel Club. Loretta resides near Merrill, Wisconsin, with her husband, Steve, and their three children.

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