The First 8 Weeks of a Puppies Life
Newborn to 1 Week Old
Newborns spend most of the time nursing and sleeping huddled together for warmth. Newborn puppies can not regulate their own body temperature, (this means if they get too hot they can not cool themselves down OR if they get cold they can not warm themselves back up) so it's crucial their environment is within the correct temperature range or else the puppies can become very sick or even die within a short time. ALL puppies are born with their eyes and ears sealed shut. (this means they are blind and deaf at birth). At this age, they rely 100% on their mom to lick their tummies and genitals to help them go potty. Their noses and pads are usually pink and turn black (or colored) later. Newborns legs are very weak and at first they can barely wiggle around. You will notice that while newborns are sleeping their legs twitch, this is called "activated sleep" which helps make their legs stronger and prepares them to learn how to walk. Many breeds get their tails docked at their declaws removed at 3- 5 days old while their cartridge is still very soft, otherwise, once it hardens and the procedure turns into an expensive, painful, and a much more involved amputation surgery.
2 - 3 Weeks Old
This is a very exciting time because so much happens this week! Puppies usually open their eyes around 10 - 14 days old. Their eyes slowly start to peek out and then within a day or two they will open all the way. Sometimes both eyes open at the same time, while other times only one eye opens at a time which is funny because then they look like Popeye for a day or two! LOL. When their eyes are first opening, they can appear kind of hazy, glossed over, sleepy looking or even looked stoned. This is because their eyes have a protective glaze over them that lasts a day or two until their eyes are fully opened. Once their eyes are fully open they are able to start detecting light, dark and movement. The puppy's ears will start to open soon after or right around the same time as their eyes. So at this age you will notice the puppies responding to different sights and sounds. For the most part, they still don't do much but eat and sleep. However, when they are awake, early phases of social skills begin as they learn how to use their legs by trying to stand, sit and even walk this week, instead of crawl! It's a lot of fun to watch them learn how to coordinate their body and strengthen their muscles because at this age, for the most part, they are very clumsy and walk like a drunken sailor! They are still 100% dependent on the mother to keep them alive but this is a good time to introduce them to some puppy mash by letting them nurse it off your finger, feeding a little to each puppy with a syringe or just putting a dish down for the mom to eat while wiping some on the roof of each puppies mouth to start getting them used to the new taste and texture. .
4 - 5 Weeks Old
Now that the puppy can see, hear and is learning how to walk this is a very common age for their fear response to kick in. It's common for this age group to be real wimpy. Things can tend to trigger a fear response which makes them jumpy, edgy, tremble, shake, grovel, or even slither away to hide. It can be common for them to cry, yelp or even scream in fear at basic experiences such as giving them a bath, blow-drying them, or even just picking them up to pet them. But don't worry, most of them will grow out of this. It is a critical age for socializing them to as many positive hands-on experiences as possible so that they build confidence and learn that everything is okay and no one is out to hurt them. It's common for the mother to start weaning her babies at this age, however, they are still nursing as well as learning social skills from her. .
7 - 8 Weeks Old
Let the party begin! Puppies should be getting a lot more braver and comfortable with basic household traffic and noises. At this age the puppies are able to stand, walk, run, romp, chase, hunt, even growl and bark. They love to play with toys, kids and wrestle each other. By now they should be able to act on a personal level and want to cuddle, give kisses and follow you around. Their curious nature kicks in and they start exploring the home as well as getting into mischief which is why it's important to have supervised play times. Puppies at this age usually begin cutting their first teeth, so we make sure to offer them toys designed for teething and heavy chewing (such as nylabones, ropes, puppy kongs, cold puppy teething sticks, rubber squeaker toys, etc....)