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Open or Closed Kennel? Why should this matter to me?

Closed Kennel:

[endif]Puppies are whelped in a closed environment:

This means the puppies are kept away from the comings and goings of an average household until they go home to their puppy parents. This includes humans; except the 1-2 people designated to help in whelping the litter. No other animals, humans, potential puppy parents, the Fed- Ex man, nobody can set foot within the home, yard or anywhere that a germ might get to the puppies.

For the first 5-weeks of life this is ideal. Newborn pups spend most of their time nursing and sleeping. When everything runs perfectly Margaret and I barley touch the puppies, unless it is to weigh them or make sure they are hooked up nice and tight to mom to nurse, as well as to change the bedding. Theoretically they are kept in an environment with their mother which is as sterile as possible.

Once the puppies are about 5 weeks old, they begin to be weaned. This means they nurse on mom and begin to eat “gruel”. Mom is typically done nursing and puppies start “biting “mom instead of nursing. Mom is removed from the puppies, so her milk will dry up. Once the mother is removed, she is not allowed to go back into the area where the puppies are kept so her milk will dry up. The puppies never leave the kennel, whelping box or “place” designated for the whelping of the puppies, their first experience around life, humans and other animals is when the puppy leaves the kennel and goes to their new home. This is the popular way to whelp puppies. Most reputable breeders raise their litters in a closed kennel situation. By having a closed kennel, the breeder provides the safety environment that the puppies need. Puppies at about 5 weeks have no more immunity from mom’s colostrum and it is another 2 weeks before they can be vaccinated. In a closed kennel you can remove any variables that might bring death to the litter. This includes the flu, Parvo, kennel cough, Giardia and many generally otherwise; to vaccinated animals, harmless pathogens. The puppies are extremely fragile during this time.

The breeder will stress to the new parents the importance of keeping the puppy in a sterile environment until the puppy is fully vaccinated, at 17 plus 1 to spare weeks.


Open Kennel:

[if !supportLists]· [endif]The puppies are whelped in a sterile whelping box where they remain for the first 3-4-weeks of life depending on the progression of the litter.

The mother can come out of the whelping box to take a break from the puppies. This includes eating her meals with the house pack and going potty in the same yard space as the other packs kids. The biggest difference between an open and closed Kennel is at about week 5 weeks, when the puppy begins eating puppy food and is being weaned from mom. Mom will dictate when she has had enough feeding babies and will decide to leave the whelping box to sleep in her own bed or with the rest the pack., at this time the puppy is allowed out of the whelping box to interact with the regular household routine. The puppies will eat, play with and around and even sleep with the other household animals. They get their first taste of sounds like the dishwasher, vacuum cleaner, human children running and playing, the doorbell ringing and most especially, having the other household animals lick them, play with them, growl at them and basically teach them their place in the pack. Within our open kennel we do our due diligence to clean meticulously both our animals and our own feet to prevent as many germs as possible from entering our home. We do have visitors to the house but do not allow an excess during the time we have litters. Generally, a handful of people that know our pack and can contribute to the emotional well being of the puppies being raised. Running an open kennel has the potential to be dangerous. This is because we are not able to remove every single variable that can threaten the health of the puppy.


Houndful Hearts runs an open kennel. We believe in the will of God and On Guard (doTERRA) cleaner. The benefits of running an open Kennel is our puppies go home extremely socialized, “somewhat” potty trained, knowing their name and the word NO, with a finger wagging in their face. Houndful Hearts has 9 dogs in full-time residence and we live at the beach where parvo is prevalent. It would only take one grain of sand to blow through the window to have Parvo in my house. I clean the floors and toys as well as I can with On Guard, wash the puppies feet regularly and do a whole lot of cleaning and defusing with both purity and on guard as well as praying. It has been God’s will up to this point that not one of our puppies has ever gotten sick or died due to my open kennel policy. I know it’s just a matter of time before a puppy catches some nasty germ, at that time I might rethink my stand, however right now I am a firm believer in letting a dog be a dog and trusting in God. I leave the litter with Mom in the whelping box and take the other kids on a beach run every day, rain or shine. The Mom comes out to interact with the other sandy dogs and takes germs back into the whelping area with her. Again, I believe in the benefits of doTERRA purify and ON Guard Essential oil. Defusing it around the clock. It works, all my puppies have been healthy, well-adjusted and socially interacted on a large scale.

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