Chapter Eight

Six Weeks Old

By six weeks of age, the puppies have a full complement of curiosity and moxie. Nothing is off-limits, and the puppies glory in exploring every inch of their environment.



The puppies still come inside daily, enjoying kitchen time for a few hours. But outdoors is where the real fun is. They gleefully exit the house with purpose, managing that single step down with a skillful leap.



The pups’ mother is still an integral part of their daily life. Their food now comes via pan, but a quick drink from mom now and then does not go amiss.



The pups are now so big that their mother must assume a wide-spread, upright stance to get the job done.



At first, their mother was their entire world. But now, at six weeks old, the babies find the older Sweetbay dogs fascinating, too.



The multi-generational interaction at Sweetbay takes place up close and personal. Everyone socializes freely, while Ellis and Judi keep a casual eye on the proceedings. Puppies quickly learn which actions are tolerated and which won’t fly.



Speed is a given at Sweetbay. The big dogs zoom around the yard, playing endless chase games. The pups are alert, either making sure they’re not in the flight path or trying to join in. Judi and Ellis let the action happen, knowing that this wild play is excellent for developing the puppies’ muscles - and their social smarts.



The shavings pile is still the favorite hangout. The adult Newfs occupy the summit, and the pups hustle to join them.



You can see the determination on this pup’s face as he makes it to the top. There’s pride there, too. What a great lesson to learn at six weeks old.



The adults aren’t above adding a bit of a challenge. “Oh, yeah? You really think you can make it up here? Well, you’ll have to get past me first.” But it’s all in fun, and the pups’ confidence grows by the minute.



A big shavings pile can teach many lessons. Two pups check out a different section of the hill. The steep drop-off at that spot, a veritable cliff, gives them pause. They wisely decide that while it’s a good viewpoint, it isn’t the best descent route.

First-time visitors always say, “But aren’t you worried that they’ll hurt themselves? They could fall!” Yes, they tumble. Yes, they crash. But they pop right back up and try again. At Sweetbay, pups are bred to be sturdy. They can handle the bashes and crashes that are a normal part of an active life.



Ah, the thrill of success. This pup made it to the top. Now she can relax, keeping Ellis company and enjoying the view.



Then again, going down is great fun, especially when it’s done at top speed.



There’s entertainment to be found at ground level, too. The Adlers’ big front yard is Play Central, with dozens of opportunities. The tunnels are especially fascinating.



Imagine meeting you here!



Sometimes the whole litter hangs out in the tunnel, like it’s their clubhouse.



Barrels are fun. They roll around and are slippery inside. And after a busy play session, they’re a great place to sack out.



Some years back, the Adlers acquired a horizontal PVC ladder. It was originally built as an agility training aid, but it became a favorite venue for puppy antics. Climbing over, under and through helps refine their motor skills.



The cardinal tenet of a proper puppyhood: everything is fun.



Oho! A poor innocent ball is about to become prey.



Sometimes it takes teamwork to subdue a particularly feisty ball.



There are specific chores the Adlers do every day. Each puppy gets weighed, and the results are recorded on a chart. Nail polish is checked; if necessary, the markings are renewed. (The “shoulder” puppies seem to wear off their markings much faster than the “top of head” or “mid back” puppies.)

Those sharp puppy toenails need to be trimmed every few days, too. But being cuddled by Judi as their nails are being nipped is a pretty nice ritual, and the pups learn to enjoy it.



Visitors are the center of attention as the puppies claim their share of petting and snuggling. It’s no wonder Sweetbay puppies go to their new homes thinking people are wonderful. They retain this upbeat attitude throughout their lives.



The war games they’ve been playing since they were two weeks old continue unchecked. Sharp teeth and fierce growling are all in fun now, never to maim or terrify.

Puppies frequently pair up to play. There’s no game when just one pup is involved – and three means that someone will bear the brunt of two attackers. Two is the perfect number – and puppies seem to know it.


Sometimes a sturdy forepaw can hold an opponent down long enough to make the point. Then, five seconds later, the puppies switch roles, and the winner is now on the bottom, with the other guy in control.

With puppies, it isn’t about dominance. It’s all about having fun.



Something interesting is going on in another part of the yard, and this puppy gallops off to join in.



At five weeks, puppies just acted and reacted. But now, at six weeks, they also sit quietly, watch, and think. This is not idle resting. There’s some serious educating going on here. Puppies learn a lot from watching each other, and from watching the older dogs.



But they also watch humans just as avidly. People are endlessly fascinating to Sweetbay puppies, and they keep an eye out to make sure they don’t miss any fun.



At Sweetbay, puppies learn it’s totally worthwhile to come when they’re called. Being summoned always means something good. Might be dinner. Might be visitors. Whatever, it’s definitely worth the hustle.



This early recall training becomes invaluable later on, when the pup is in its new home. At around four months, all puppies go through a “no, I won’t” stage, and the primary rebellion always involves refusing to come when called. But the pups’ prior training is still there in their heads, and that makes it much easier for the new owners to train through this phase.



All puppies are cute. Shepherds are cute. Berners are cute. Even affenpinschers are cute. (Well, sort of.) But honestly – how could anything be cuter than a six-week-old Newfie puppy?


Return To The Chapter Index

Go To The Next Chapter