Wow!... the puppies loved their first real meal of soft puppy food. They knew exactly what to do and needed no direction from me at all. They were 3 and 1/2 weeks old, and although they will be eating solids now everyday, they will also continue to nurse from Shiloh for at least the next week.
We also started potty training over the last few days. You can see the absorbent papers that we keep in the pen to contain the liquids. At this point we have to be very diligent in keeping the side of the pen that we want the puppies to live in extremely clean. The other half of the pen becomes the potty area, and there we leave some soiled paper so that the pups can easily recognize its purpose.
It takes a few weeks, but eventually the puppies will become increasingly aware that they are expected to potty in a designated area, and not in their sleeping and playing area. There is some variation in the length of time that this takes, and while the entire litter is learning it takes a lot of patience. There are frequent accidents! It also takes MANY changes of paper throughout the day to keep the box clean.
It is well worth it though, because when the puppies do finally "get it" they will continue to potty where we want and on our terms. This is essential when you want house training to go smoothly in the future. It is amazing what an influence the early environment has on each puppy and how, as a result, we can capitalize on these critical periods during the litter's first weeks of life.