Once a litter is born, we wait approximately 8-9 weeks before they are ready to join their new, forever families. It’s because these first few weeks are critical to their overall health and development. They undergo many changes and need the help and presence of their mother to ensure that they will be happy and healthy for their new lives ahead. Here’s a quick look at how the puppies are developing during those first few critical weeks:

Week 1

The puppies are spending 90% of their time sleeping and 10% eating. The nervous system is rapidly developing at this point. They are susceptible to heat and cold, and need constant care from mom. Stimulation is needed for urination and defecation. The pups have some instinctive reflexes: crawl, seek warmth, and to nurse. If a puppy is place upside-down, it can turn itself right-side up. During this time, puppies may lose up to 10% of birth weight, but should again start gaining weight by the end of the first week.

Week 2

Puppies will begin to open their eyes around day 10, and their ears will also begin to open between days 13 and 17.

Week 3

The puppies will begin to become more mobile as they learn to walk. They will also start to become more aware of their environment and we’ll see the first signs of play amongst the litter.

Week 4

The puppies are becoming quite active now! They are learning to bark, bite, growl, chase, bare their teeth and wag those tails. They are walking well now, however they are just beginning to develop depth perception and they grow tired easily.

Week 5

Dominance order within their tiny pack starts to develop and they begin to engage in more group activities. They are growing rapidly by now, and they start to eat solid food.

Week 6

More growth and development!

Week 7

Puppies have fully developed hearing and vision at this point, and this makes them quite curious.

Week 8

Puppies begin to develop their first senses of fear — from strangers, sudden noises, or anything unusual to them. The puppy is ready to begin learning his or her name and may be ready to move to his or her new home!