During the first two weeks of your new puppies' lives, they will be growing on a daily basis and gaining as much as 15% of their bodyweight every day. As their second week of life begins, their development really takes off and they progress very quickly from the tiny blind helpless babies that came into the world into big bounding juvenile dogs ready to go out into the world on their own.
As your puppies approach the middle of their second week of life, their eyes will start to open at between ten and fourteen days old. The dam will lick and bathe the puppies regularly, and licking and cleaning around their eyes helps to encourage the eyes to open so that your new puppies can take their first look at the world around them. They will start to recognise movement and changes in light, and begin to pay attention to things going on. Your pups will start to become a little more coordinated at this point too, crawling around the whelping box and exploring their environment and learning to walk. They will also begin to make their first bonds, recognising their mother and litter mates and coming to recognise the different objects around them that are a constant in their environment.
During week three to four of your puppies lives, their awareness of the wider environment increases, and they will begin to be able to recognise the people that come and go around them on a regular basis and differentiate between them. This is your puppies first fully conscious experience of people and a very formative point in their young lives, so at this stage more than at any other point it is vital to ensure that your pups do not have any negative experiences with people and are not exposed to anything that might shock or frighten them, as the associations they begin to make at this point of their development will be hard to break at a later point. This is also the time when the puppies begin to mimic the dam and learn how to clean themselves, go to the toilet and develop other normal canine behaviours. This stage is when your young pups really begin to learn how to be a dog!
From around four weeks of age, your pups begin to learn how to play and interact with the other members of the litter and their dam, and potentially any other adult dogs that live in the household. Toothy little puppies automatically try to grab anything and everything around them in their mouths, and at this point the dam will begin to teach them about inappropriate biting and how to moderate their manners! The dam will also start gradually weaning the puppies at this point, and they will begin showing an interest in the puppy food which the dam eats as she teaches them how to eat solid foods. She will also begin to gently establish herself as the top dog and pack leader amongst the puppies. Interaction with people should begin in earnest at this point, with plenty of time spent socialising the puppies, getting them used to you and the family, and teaching them how to play with people and not to bite in fun! Although human socializing is very important to the pups at this age, they do still very much need to be with their dam and you should not seek to force or artificially expedite weaning, nor remove the dam and the puppies from each other for more than ten minutes at a time. Four to seven weeks of age is when the puppy starts to learn the parameters of safe play and to respect but not fear people. At this age it is important not to over discipline the young puppies, and not to tell them off for barking, mouthing and play fighting.
During week seven to eight of your new puppies' lives, you will need to see about getting them the first of the two stages of their vaccinations, in order to prepare them for meeting other dogs out and about and keep them safe.The period between eight weeks of age up until around the twelve week mark is notable as the time when your pups begin to learn at a rapid rate, and will also come into contact with a massive range of stimulants including new people, new dogs and new experiences. Most puppies, although not all, go through a couple of weeks marked by an overzealous fear of a disproportionate number of things, and they may appear to have exaggeratedly terrified reactions to completely harmless situations and people, even showing signs of fear of people and objects which they have been exposed to for some time without incident. It is again important to not over discipline them during this time, and to avoid exposing them to any genuinely risky or potentially frightening situations. The reassuring presence of the dam and people who are familiar to them can help to ease their fear at this time, and teach them the appropriate reactions to potential triggers of fear.During this stage you will also be able to begin to teach the puppy basic commands such as sit and stay, and housebreaking should come on in leaps and bounds as your pups develop their bladder and bowel control and should begin to sleep through the night without any accidents.Remember to have the second stage of your pup's vaccinations completed on time in order to afford them the protection they need to begin socialising with other dogs outside of the home.
At around the three month mark, your pups will have turned into fully formed juvenile dogs ready to go out into the world without their dam and littermates. Weaning can be completed, the pups should be eating independently, and house training should be well under way. Your puppies are all ready to go off and start their lives in their new forever homes!