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Puppy Development

The following is a quick guide to the stages of development occurring in your litter.

Birth to 8 days

Cannot hear or see but will crawl around box. Will stay close to mother for security, warmth and food.

8-14 days

Eyes open and hearing starts to develop. May struggle and cry out when picked up. Do not use Flash or direct bright light at this time to prevent damage to eyes. Do not try to force eyes open.

14-18 days

Will try to stand. Will move to the far side of their box away from their bedding to urinate and defecate themselves.

18-21 days

Start barking and growling at litter mates. Early play patterns develop. Start walking on all fours around box, but still unsteady.

3 weeks

Baby teeth will appear. Start to eat solid foods.

3-4 weeks

Will play and fight with litter mates. Will start to try to climb out of the box. May shiver when picked up. (This shivering may continue until they are 6-7 weeks of age as it is a mechanism that has been passed down from their "wild dog" heritage.

4-5 weeks

Will start to run, bark when they hear a noise and wag their tails. Their individual personalities become evident. Pecking order and "alpha dog" syndrome is being established. Able to eat and drink by themselves.

5-6 weeks

Will play games with a ball or toys. Will want more outside affection.

6-8 weeks

Very quick to learn and is the ideal time to start training.

10 weeks

Will sleep throughout the night without waking.

12- 24 weeks

Will develop voluntary control of bodily functions.

NOTE: (These are approximate times only, as some puppies develop earlier and others later.)

Weeks... one to three

Gradually increase her food intake as the puppies grow. If it is a large litter she will require up to three times her normal amount of food per day by the time the puppies are three weeks old. If she is feeding a small litter her increase in food would be in proportion to the number of puppies. Feed enough to ensure the milk supply is ample, and the bitch remains in good condition. If she is a little thin you may increase the food even more.

It is almost impossible to overfeed a lactating bitch. Most good bitches give everything to the pups and it can be a constant battle to keep her weight on, but some bitches just store the excess food as fat.

If the pups look plump and healthy and mom is well covered herself you are feeding the right amount.

Weight gain

Record the weight of the pups at birth and at the same time every day, for the first week or two. It is quite normal for the pups to have lost weight the first day or two as the bitch's milk has not come down completely, but they should recover their weight by the third day. Their weight should then increase daily. They should double their birth weight by the end of their first eight to ten days.

Also plain natural yoghurt (the one with all the live cultures in it) fed to the bitch should help. You can also give a tiny amount 1/4 teaspoon to the pups.