Neonatal Period: Birth to Two Weeks
birth, puppies are able to use their sense of smell and touch, which
helps them root about the nest to find their mother's scent-marked
breasts. The first milk the mother produces, called colostrum, is
rich in antibodies that provide passive immunity and help protect
the babies from disease during these early weeks of life.
Transitional Period: Week
The second week of life brings
great changes for the puppy. Ears and eyes sealed since birth begin
to open during this period, ears at about two weeks and eyelids
between ten to 16 days. This gives the furry babies a new sense of
their world. They learn what their mother and other dogs look and
sound like, and begin to expand their own vocabulary from grunts and
yelps, whines and barks. Puppies generally
stand by day 15 and take their first wobbly walk by day 21.
By age three weeks, puppy development
advances from the neonatal period to the transitional period. This
is a time of rapid physical and sensory development, during which
the puppies go from total dependence on Mom to a bit of
independence. They begin to
play with their littermates, learn about
their environment and canine society, and begin sampling food from
Mom's bowl. Puppy teeth begin to erupt until all the baby teeth are
in by about five to six weeks of age. Puppies can control their
need to potty by this age, and begin
moving away from sleeping quarters to eliminate.
Socialization Period: Week Four-to-Seven
Following the transitional phase, puppies enter the socialization
period at the end of the third week of life; it lasts until about
week ten. It is during this socialization period that interaction
with others increases, and puppies form attachments they will
remember the rest of their life. The most critical period--age six
to eight weeks--is when puppies most easily learn to accept others
as a part of their family. Refer to the article on
how to socialize puppies.
Beginning at four weeks of age, the bitch's
milk production begins to slow down just as the puppies' energy
needs increase. As the mother dog slowly weans her babies from
nursing, they begin
sampling solid food in earnest.
The environmental stimulation impacts your
puppy's rate of mental development during this time. The puppy brain
waves look that of an adult dog by about the 50th day, but he's not
yet programmed--that's your job, and the job of his mom and
siblings. Weaning typically is complete by week eight.
Puppies often go through a "fear period" during this time. Instead
of meeting new or familiar people and objects with curiosity, they
react with fearfulness. Anything that frightens them at this age may
have a lasting impact so take care that the baby isn't over
stimulated with too many changes or challenges at one time. That
doesn't mean your pup will grow up to be a scaredy-cat; it's simply
a normal part of development where pups learn to be more cautious.
Careful socialization during this period helps counter fear
Puppies may be placed in new homes once
they are eating well on their own. However, they will be better
adjusted and make better pets by staying and interacting with
littermates and the Mom-dog until they are at least eight weeks
old--older generally is better. Interacting with siblings and Mom
teach bite inhibition, how to understand
and react to normal
canine communication, and their place in
doggy society. Puppies tend to make transitions from one environment
to another more easily at this age, too.
Your puppy still has lots of growing to do.
He won't be considered an adult until he goes through several more
developmental periods and reaches one to two years of age.