I handle my kits daily from birth. (Please note, “handle” does not mean “take them out of the nestbox and play with them for hours on end”). Everyone gets pulled out, looked over, weighed to make sure they are eating well, and marked in the case of identical kits. I then take a group photo, tuck everyone back in the nestbox, and put them back with mommy. It takes about 10 minutes per litter.
Starting around two weeks, they get handled for a bit longer, and spend about three minutes each in my “photo booth” for a few individual photos. They are not forced to pose, and are allowed to wander around the photo platform at will. At this stage, the goal is just to get them used to lights, cameras, and being gently handled. Once they are all back in the nestbox, they are exposed to the sound of clippers and the blower, though I do not blow air at them at this age.
At three weeks, I start encouraging them to pose properly. By this age they are so used to being handled that they actively seek it out, so ear rubs are a good way to encourage proper posing. They are still exposed daily to the sound of blowers and clippers. Three weeks is also when I start going through the motions of clipping their nails. I don’t actually trim unless it’s needed, but I hold each foot and check each individual toe as if I were clipping them.
At four weeks, they get their coats blown for the first time–with the blower set on the lowest setting, and held a good distance from them. They are still exposed to the sound of the clippers daily as well. Likewise, I am still weighing them daily and encouraging them to pose.
Six weeks, they are weaned (except for kits who are below the average weight), tattooed, and get their first exposure to the clippers. I leave the guard on the clippers so that they cannot cut anything, and run them over the kit as if I was shearing it so that the kit is used to the sound and vibration. They also continue to be weighed daily, have their coat blown daily, encouraged to pose daily, go through the motions of nails being clipped daily, etc.
By the time my kits go to new homes, they are friendly, enjoy being handled, and are very easy to groom.