Most of us won’t even get the chance to cuddle a puppy until it’s at least 8 weeks old. But even by that time, little pups have already travelled a path full of discovery and excitement and we are going to follow that journey from the process of birth right through to leaving the litter.
As pups are born, their mother stimulates them by licking; this encourages them to breathe and move they then enter into phase 1 of development.
This covers the period from birth through to two weeks of age, during week one; pups will sleep 22 hours a day – every day. They will only wake up to feed, their eyes are still shut and their ears are closed. They rely solely on touch and smell to find mum and her teats. Puppies have an inbuilt food antenna, whenever they encounter a warm soft object like a teat or a finger, they simply pull themselves forward with their front legs and they open their mouth.
Turn a pup upside down and they will flip themselves over, and if a pup strays mum will simply guide it back using a series of licks. By week tow pups should be roughly double their birth weight, their eyes will be open and they will see their first human!
It’s now time for pups to get their first roundworm treatment – a pup around 600 grams in weight will need about half a mm. Pups will get a dose like this every week until they are 8 weeks old. By week 3 they have reached their second stage of development the transitional period,
The transitional phase lasts roughly around 7 days. The ears pop open, the teeth start to come through, they learn to defecate on their own and they also start to growl. But most exciting of all, they are ready to start walking on their four little legs! Pups are now ready to start playing and communicating with their siblings. They do this by mouthing each other. As three weeks comes to and end, pups enter their third and final phase.
Socialisation is the period from 4 through to 10 weeks. At 4 weeks pups begin to ween off the nipple and eat their first soft food. They can now wag tails and bite, in other words they can communicate effectively. By week 5 basic rumbling has developed into a more sophisticated game of establishing dominance and the pecking order.
By week 7 pups should be responding to their names and eating regular puppy food 3 to 4 times a day. The psychological and the physiological development are just about complete and it is also the time for the pup’s first vaccination. One jab helps protect little puppies from distemper, parvovirus, kennel cough and hepatitis. Pups will require an additional booster in another 4 weeks.
The 8 weeks are now complete, puppies will now be independent and ready to leave the litter and ready for new home!