Canine pups are some of the cutest animals on earth. What happens in their development from birth to 8-weeks-the time that most puppies are ready to leave the litter?
1. Neonatal Stage from Birth to 7 Days
At this stage, the puppy is completely dependent on their mother. Born blind and without hearing-their mother must feed, warm and protect them. This is when they are most suseptable to illness-rejection and injury-such as accidental suffocation.
Neonatal Period from 7 to 14 Days
Puppies begin to develop an improved sense of taste and smell. Their eyes and ears will begin to open but their sense of sight and hearing is very poor. They generally cannot support their body weight but may try to move and crawl on their bellies. They will usually eat about every two hours and spend most of their time sleeping.
Transitional Period from 2 to 3 Weeks
Puppies will beging to socialize with their litter mates. They should be starting to stand and wobble/walk. They may show an interest in soft foods and water but will still nurse from their mother. They may wag their tails, play-fight and growl/bark. Their hearing and vision is improving-but still not great. Teeth may be starting to appear.
Socilaization Period from 3 to 4 Weeks
Puppies will generally feed every 6 hours. You may introduce a high quality food to begin weaning-but they will still get most of their nutrition from their mother. Puppies may smell at this stage-but it is NOT safe to bathe them as they cannot regulate their body temperature. Puppies should not be bathed until they reach 8 weeks old. Emotions are being developed and treatment at this time can have an impact on future emotional development. They will start becoming more curious and want to expand their territory.
Socilaization Period from 4 to 5 Weeks
They will start to develop a social heirarchy among their peers and become more active-tumbling and playing with siblings. Their vision has improved and they can now recognize people. The more dominant puppies will assert themselves. They will start to groom themselves and begin to move away from the sleeping area when going to the bathroom. The puppy will be getting a substantial amout of nutrition from puppy food.
Socilaization Period from 5 to 6 Weeks
Their sense smell and taste is fully developed and they may be almost weaned from their mother. They are very active and may become quite noisy! Teething toys are a favorite for most puppies around this age. Some puppies may be able to learn simple house training commands. Over-dominant puppies should be monitored and their behavior curbed as not to effect the less dominant.
Socilaization Period from 6 to 7 Weeks
At this stage most of their senses will be fully developed. They should be almost fully weaned and while they may suckle-they do not need to. They should be consuming five or six little meals of puppy food each day. They will take their first trip to the vet for worn and flea treatments and will get their first vaccinations. Many puppies may show the beginnings of fearfulness. They may be startled by strange sights or sounds. Introducing them to new experiences, people and places is an important part of socialization at this point.
Socilaization Period from 7 to 8 Weeks
Puppies should be fully weaned. They should begin to remember their names, people and places. They are ready to leave the litter and with proper encouragement and socialization will develop into great dogs who readily become part of a loving family.
- World of Animals Book of Dogs and Canines 4th Edition