Puppies! When we think of puppies, we think of cute little fluff balls full of energy, and wet kisses! But do you know all the different phases your puppy goes through before they come home with you? Here’s an overlook at a puppy’s development stages. 1-8 WEEKS OLD PHYSICAL CHANGES Puppies are born with their eyes closed, and they won’t open them until their second week of life, usually around 10-14 days old. Even when their eyes open, they can’t clearly see at first. Gradually, their eyes will open wider, and look hazy. Your puppy’s eyes will continue to develop, for the next several weeks, and won’t reach full vision until around 8 weeks of age. Eyesight isn’t the only sense your puppy is developing at this early age. For the first few weeks of it’s life, a puppy cannot support its weight so they crawl around on their bellies! This crawling helps them develop strength. Most puppies will be able to stand on their legs between 15-21 days. They usually take their first wobbly steps around 3 or 4 weeks old (21 to 28 days of age) A momma’s job is never done! One of momma’s jobs, besides feeding, cleaning, and taking care of her pups, is actually helping them go to the washroom. A newborn pup needs to be stimulated for the first few weeks of its life to help with digestion and defecating/urinating. Momma dog will lick the pups anal and genital areas, and does this for each one until they develop the ability to go on their own, which is usually around 3 or 4 weeks old. New puppies, just like human babies, are born without teeth. They won’t cut their baby teeth until 2 to 4 weeks old. It’s during this stage that mom will be taking on the most responsibility and care of her puppies. They won’t be weaned until 5-7 weeks old. Though the first few weeks of a pups life are quiet, and their world is still small, they are doing a TON of growing and developing! They will sleep and nurse, and double their birth weight in the first week! BEHAVIOURAL CHANGES Puppies have a simple life for the first few weeks, and focus on only two things…eating and sleeping! Once they’ve built up enough strength in their legs, it’s time to start exploring a whole new world. By 3 weeks old, they can hear, see, and walk, and start to learn how to be a dog. This is a CRUCIAL time as it also marks the beginning of the socialization period. Your puppy will learn how to interact with other dogs by being with its mother, littermates, and the breeder/humans it lives with. The countdown is also now on until your puppy reaches their first “fear stage” A fear stage, marks the time that most puppies seem to be afraid of new things. Introducing them to new sights, sounds, smells, textures, and environments before this period will help your puppy’s fear period go more smoothly. A puppy will experience their first fear stage at 7 to 8 weeks old. Puppies become less dependent on their mother after 3-4 weeks, and curiosity starts to take over. They start to crawl out of their ‘den’ and explore more of their surroundings. Puppies should stay with their mother and littermates, and won’t be ready to go home until 8 weeks old.
FOOD AND NUTRITIONAL NEEDS Puppies get all the nutrients they need from their mother’s milk, and won’t wean until 3 weeks old. It’s at this time that puppies baby teeth come in, this is a signal to mom to naturally begin the weaning process as sharp puppy teeth are painful on her teats. Puppies will transition from mothers milk to puppy food. Most pups are fully weaned by 6 to 7 weeks old. It’s important to keep your puppy on the same food the breeder gives them, when they come home with you. Coming home is a big change, and it’s helpful to your puppy to keep them on something familiar to their stomach. You can transition from the preapproved puppy food to one of your own choosing over time