How to Take Care of Brand New Puppies
When welcoming a new puppy into your life, you may think you are starting with a “blank slate,” but this is not the case.
There is a lot happening in a puppy’s world, and a lot that should happen during those first few weeks of life to give you the best chances of raising a valued member of your family.
From birth to 12 days of age – the neonatal period, a puppy can’t hear or see. He can’t eliminate waste by himself or regulate its body temperature. He is dependent on his mother for food, warmth and survival. Daily human handling is thought to better prepare the puppy for stresses later in life.
The transitional period, lasting about two weeks and beginning around the 13th day of life, is when the puppy’s senses rapidly mature. Both the eyes and ears open, and the puppy learns how to walk. Humans should gently expose the puppy to all types of stimuli during this time (objects, sounds, varied surfaces, etc.) to enhance development. It is imperative that the puppy remain with his mother and litter mates in a calm and stable environment.
Around 1 month of age, the puppy enters into the first socialization period, which lasts up until the 12th week of life. During this time, social behavior and patterns are developing, largely through the interaction with littermates and the mother. This is a critical time in the puppy’s temperament and behavior development and greatly affects how it will behave as an adult dog. He begins to investigate his surroundings, and gradually shifts his interaction away from his mother and more toward his litter mates. Through play, the puppy learns not to bite too hard and the specifics of chasing, barking, and body posturing, including submissive postures. This is also a time when the puppy startles easily and fearful responses become much more pronounced. Exposure to different environments, objects, sound, and surfaces should continue; in time, the puppy will learn to discriminate between truly dangerous situations and those that are of no concern.
It is a widely accepted rule that no puppy should leave its litter until the 49th day of life. Generally speaking, the best time to bring a new puppy home is between 7 and 9 weeks of age. If your new puppy has been raised in a calm environment, with litter mates and daily human handling and exposure, the job of house-training and raising the puppy should be a fairly easy task. But continued exposure to a variety of people, other friendly animals, including dogs, surfaces, noises, objects, car rides, and a host of other everyday scenarios are imperative to ensure you raise a well-adjusted, temperamentally sound adult dog.
Note that none of the above has anything to do with “training.” How your puppy is raised and treated its first few months of life will greatly impact how easy or difficult the training process is. Knowing the particulars of how your puppy was raised before bringing him home is important information and should be factored in to selecting your new dog. While raising and training a puppy that has not had a good start in life–as often is the case when adopting a puppy from a shelter, or rescuing one off the street– is still possible, it helps to know that it may be a far more challenging process.
~Courtesy of MiamiHerald