Maternal stress & puppies

I worked out the other week that since the pandemic started, I’ve trained with well over 300 puppies with this figure rising daily.

Maternal stress

Whilst there’s always been a steady stream of puppies across a typical year, never before has the demand for four-legged companionship been so high. 
 
However, an increasing number of behavioural cases in the past twelve months have highlighted the impact pre-birth stress can have on the future behaviour of the litter.  Consequently, puppies from the get-go may be less resilient to everyday situations where stress responses are ‘set’ at a highly tuned, super-sensitive level like a Ferrari engine, rather than the more moderate Morris Minor.
 
Some of the many factors that can influence pre-birth stress include where the pregnant mother is in poor health, has experienced poor nutrition, or a lack of readily available resources like food, water and shelter, exposure to loud noises or where there may have been a deficit of positive interactions with others.  This is particularly important when we think about those pups born into a shelter environment where the mother might have been relinquished, or is a stray, or is in a puppy farm environment.
 
Consequently, the role a breeder or guardian[s] of the mother plays is critical in ensuring the dog remains healthy and happy, as this has a direct impact on the puppies’ physiological and psychological health and wellbeing.
 
The United States Department of Agriculture have a handy info-sheet on maternal stress, including tips on how to minimise this.  Click onto the image below or the following link to download a copy ACAids_Canine-MaternalStress_AC-19-005_6.19

Looking for a puppy?

If you’ve decided the time is right to welcome a new puppy into your home, then check out those breeders listed under The Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme.
 
Plus, The National Animal Welfare Trust have some great advice on questions to ask the breeder before your visit, what to look for at the visit plus more.
 
 
 
©Hanne Grice

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth April 14, 2021 at 7:13 pm

Would you recommend having a mew puppy sleep in a crate in the same room as the owners to begin with?

Hanne Grice April 19, 2021 at 9:47 am

Hi Elizabeth,
Yes I would recommend following a process of desensitisation whereby the puppy is either in with you and you slowly move the crate further away (working at an incremental pace which your puppy can cope with) or sleep with puppy where you want them to finally be and you slowly move yourself away over the coming days etc. Utilising other tools such as a t-shirt that smells of you in their bed / Snuggle Puppy, as well as calming music etc can all act as environmental cues to promote calmness and that it is sleeping time. Letting a puppy cry it out creates unnecessary stress and anxiety and can create a negative association with the crate and or being alone. Hope that helps.

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