Puppy Development Week-by-Week

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How to Raise Puppies Week by Week
From birth until about one year, dogs are considered puppies. During that time, they go through several developmental puppy stages, particularly during the first twelve weeks. The rate of puppy development varies between breeds. However, regardless of the breed all puppies are born completely dependent on their mother.

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Newborn Puppies
Puppies are born deaf, blind, without teeth, and cannot regulate body temperature or even defecate or urinate on their own. Puppies need their mother and littermates to conserve body heat, which is why they are often observed huddling intimately. Puppies taken from their warm, comfortable element can die from hypothermia quickly. Cold, abandoned puppies cry loudly to alert their mother to their predicament. Puppies first experience petting when their mother cleans them with her tongue. The mother licks her babies all over to clean them and the nest and also stimulate them to urinate and defecate.

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Birth to Two Weeks
Puppies use their sense of smell and touch from birth, helping them to root around the nest to find their mother's breasts. Colostrum, the first is antibody-rich milk the mother produces, provides immunity and helps protect the puppies from diseases during the first few weeks of life. Birth weight doubles during the first week. Puppies sleep almost 90 percent of the time during first two weeks, nursing during their awake time and funneling their energy into growing. Because newborn puppies cannot support their weight, they crawl around using paddling motions with their front legs. The limited mobility provides the exercise that develops coordination and muscles, and before long, the puppies are crawling around each other and their mother.

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Week Two
The second week of life for puppies delivers amazing changes. Around two weeks old, ears and eyelids that have been sealed from birth begin to open, giving them a new understanding of the world. They learn how their mother and littermates look and what they sound like, and begin to expand their unique vocabularies from mews and grunts to whines, yelps, and barks. Puppies ordinarily stand by day 15 and take their first wobbly walk somewhere around day 21.

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Week Three
Three weeks marks a time of accelerated sensory and physical development. Puppies go from complete dependence on their mother to small bursts of independence by playing with their littermates, learning about their environment, and sampling food from their mother's bowl. Teething begins and continues around five to six weeks old, when all the baby teeth are normally in. Puppies can control their need to potty and start moving away from sleeping areas to eliminate.

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Weeks Four to Eight
Around week four, puppies enter the socialization period, which lasts until about week 10. During this time, they learn how to interact with others and form attachments. Age six to eight weeks are the most critical time when puppies learn to accept others readily as a part of their family. Around this same time, their mother’s milk production starts to decrease just as the puppies' energy requirements increase. They begin eagerly sampling solid food as the mother begins weaning her babies from nursing. Weaning is normally complete by eight weeks old.

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Weeks Eight to Twelve
Puppies often go through a period of separation anxiety and panic during weeks eight through 12. Instead of engaging curiously with brand-new people and objects, they respond with concern or fear. Anything that frightens them at this age may have a long-lasting impact, so it is crucial that you don't stimulate puppies in this stage with too many transitions or challenges at once. This is a normal stage of development when puppies learn to be more cautious. Careful socialization during this period helps balance fearful responses.  Puppies can placed in their new homes as soon as they are eating well and thriving on their own. However, keeping them with their mother and littermates until at least eight weeks old will help them adjust better and make them happy, healthy, and playful pets. Interacting with their mother and siblings helps them understand and react to normal canine communication, teaches bite inhibition, and their place in doggy society. This is the ideal age for puppies to make transitions from one environment to another more easily.

Puppies still have a lot of growing to do, and they won't be considered adults until going through several more developmental periods before reaching one to two years of age. Watching puppies grow is like raising children: challenging and rewarding.

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