Not a lot happens in the first week of a puppy’s life, but between the ages of three and six weeks they achieve a lot. By six months, your puppy is a bit like a mini version of what he’ll be as an adult, with an emerging personality but none of the experience and wisdom.
In a puppy’s first week of life, his weight will drop by about 10 percent due to the fact that he is no longer receiving nutrition from inside the womb. This is normal and not cause for alarm. Your puppy’s weight should have doubled by the end of the first week of his life, once he’s started successfully suckling from mom.
For the first seven days, your pup will spend almost all of his time asleep. When he’s not asleep he’ll either be feeding or going to the toilet.
At two weeks, your pup’s eyes will open, although his vision will be poor. Around this time he’ll be crawling, but will be using his mouth and nose to find his way around.
This is a crucial stage in puppy’s development. Worm larvae are often passed on from mom when the pup is in the womb or later via her milk. It takes around two weeks for that larvae to pass through the pup's system, at which point worms may have spread via feces to the rest of the litter. The pup may also ingest the worm back into his system when comes into contact with the feces. De-worm your pup every two weeks from the age of two weeks until the age of 12 weeks.
At around three weeks, your dog’s first teeth will start to appear. You can tell when it is happening by running your finger gently along the inside of his gums. It’s no coincidence that this is also the time he starts to show an interest in semi-solid food and is able to lap water and milk from a dish. He'll still be suckling, but once the teeth appear, mom will start to find it painful and will gradually start refusing.
Exploring and Curiosity
From 3 weeks to about 12 weeks, puppies begin to show an interest in their environment. Prior to this, all they could think of was what was in front of their nose. This is a crucial period as it informs how the dog will behave as an adult. Pain, shock and displeasure experienced during this stage may go on to cause anxiety and aversion in later life, so it’s essential to supervise the pups as they explore.
During the exploration stage, social skills develop. Puppies will begin to use body language to communicate, such as wagging their tail, and will learn how to interact with their litter mates. It is also around the three week point that dogs begin to stand and walk. Dominant dogs will begin to show signs of bossiness and submissive dogs will begin to show signs of passiveness.
Between four and six months, dogs begin to develop associations with certain environmental stimuli. For example, "the leash means it's time for walkies." Sound and scent are two of the strongest stimuli in their environment. They also become a little rebellious at this age too.
Adult Teeth Appear
At six months, baby teeth fall out and adult teeth appear. This is when chewing becomes an obsession. Hide your shoes.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.