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Early Socialization and Physical Development of the Newborn Pupppy

Updated on March 1, 2012
Dalmatian mom with her newborn puppies
Dalmatian mom with her newborn puppies
Beagle with her pups:   It is a small litter so human intervention will be needed during socialization
Beagle with her pups: It is a small litter so human intervention will be needed during socialization
Mom takes a nap with her litter
Mom takes a nap with her litter
Mom takes a break so the litter sticks together to stay warm
Mom takes a break so the litter sticks together to stay warm
Mom corrects bad behavior by correcting with gentle nudge.
Mom corrects bad behavior by correcting with gentle nudge.
With this many new mouths to feed, the weakest pups will need to be monitored to make sure they are eating enough
With this many new mouths to feed, the weakest pups will need to be monitored to make sure they are eating enough

Your newborn litter of puppies will begin the socialization process within his litter and from his mother. Not all mothers are gentle and kind. Some will use strong discipline and tough love. This is something you will need to watch and intervene if you determine that your dog is not an ideal mother. The bond between mother and pup is the first important relationship which provides warmth and food. This relationship will also deliver the pups first discipline and compromise. Due to the dependent nature of their relationship, at some point, all puppies will become pests. It will try to suckle when mom doesn't want or bite the teat to hard. Good mothers lick or nibble to control them while others threaten with growls or nips with her teeth or paw them into compliance. Good mothers will later 'groom' these pups afterward as a reward. Bad mothers will bite hard enough to produce a yelp and continue this aggression even after the pup has backed away. Without interference from you, the pups of a bad mother will develop into dogs that are shy or withdrawn and have diminished skills while performing simple tasks and ultimately submissive behavior and behavioral problems.

There are many factors that go into the early socialization of new born puppies. The size of the litter affects subtle social relationships. A large litter will gain more experience from his mates through competition for the best producing teat, mothers warmth and attention, and daily changes in personalities than pups in a small litter.

Another influence to the socialization of a newborn is interaction with both humans and as many other friendly species as possible. Each friendly and pleasant experience positively affects the puppies overall socialization. Touch is the most developed sense from birth while the other senses will continue development during the first three weeks of life. It stands to reason that contact with humans, other species like cats, horses, other breeds of dog will help each puppy grow to adulthood friendly, social and with a pleasant demeanor. Numerous experiments have shown that animals raised in 'enriched' environments have better mental development. Their brains are heavier with a thicker cerebral cortex and higher levels of brain chemical transmitter substances. The first two months of a dogs life are vital for the development of behavior that makes an ideal family dog.

A fascinating thing to watch is the emergence of personalities from the litter. You will soon see the pups mimic their mother by nipping at litter mates while competing for the best producing teat. It will soon become evident which puppy has the most dominant personality as well as the most submissive one, with every stage in between.

Physical Development of the Newborn Puppy; What to expect and When to Expect It

Newborn: Pups are blind and deaf at birth. No teeth, a weak sense of smell, the ability to whine and yelp in pain but cannot bark. It cannot generate or retain heat naturally by shivering as an adult dog can. Only the head has highly developed touch reflexes so puppies will slither around on their bellies.

10-13 Days: Eyes will open, generally blue but pigment will darken during next few weeks. Vision will continue to develop up until day 17.

2 Weeks: Hearing begins to develop and after 3 weeks, pups will begin to react to unexpected noises. Puppies begin to bark as hearing develops. Touch reflexes develops in front legs. Pups can sit but not stand.

2-3 Weeks: Milk teeth begin to emerge. You should begin weaning to solid foods softened with evaporated milk.

3 Weeks:Touch reflexes develop in hind legs. Pups will become more mobile. All of their senses are now developed and they want to explore surroundings. Brain and nerves are fully developed and pain sensations are as reactive as an adult dog. A way to aide in their physical and mental development by placing obstacles like broom handles around the whelping box or nest for them to learn how to overcome obstacles.

4 Weeks: Interaction among the litter intensifies and a social hierarchy starts to develop Start increasing exposure to other animals and humans.

5 Weeks: Introduce toys and outdoor play time, weather permitting

5-7 Weeks: Play learning teaches the basics of canine manners and communication. Interaction with humans should be in the form of handling and talking to them. Start touching their ears, feet, and mouth. Raise lips to look at teeth. All of this will condition them to enjoy grooming as an adult.

Human/Puppy playtime also needs to mimic play amongst litter mates. If the puppy bites or misbehaves, you 'Yelp' like a pup and stop play. Th is reinforces behavior learned from it's mother about consequences for behavior. This puppy 'timeout' doesn't have to last long, just until it has calmed down.

Some Medical Disorders in Puppies will need to be Monitored and Watched

Blood Poisoning can occur if mom has an infected mammary gland or bacteria entered through the naval. Affected pups are restless and whining in distress. They have diarrhea, straining or bloating. A re or blue tint to the skin shows lethal inflammation of the abdomen lining and needs urgent veterinary treatment.

Herpes Virus will only occur if passed from the mother during birth. Pups will stop nursing, cry, develop diarrhea and intense pain. They will need veterinary assistance but is generally fatal.

Naval Infections are caused during the shrinkage of the umbilical cord. There could be pus present as well as swelling and redness.

Retained Urine and Feces only occurs if the mother neglects to stimulate them. Just moisten cotton balls with warm water and gently massage the anal and genital areas after each feed and once in between feeds.

Underfed pups are submissive and bullied by litter mates during feeding time. They will cry more and eventually become listless and cool to the touch. You will be able to detect a problem if from birth you begin to weigh each pup daily. Begin hand feeding the weakest pups.

Fading Puppy Syndrome is a general definition for puppies that are listless, weak, don't eat will, and don't gain weight They eventually fade away and die. It is a sort of mystery but these pups just fail to thrive. Death usually comes within the first 5 days after birth. The herpes virus and other infectious agents have been blamed but in about half of the cases of fading puppy syndrome, no cause has been found.


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    • Dog Advisor profile image

      Sarah Falkner 5 years ago from Dog Advice

      Thank you for your comment

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

      Direct honest and very informative "real" advice. And the puppy pictures simply melted my heart! So cute!!