The First Stages of Puppy Development

1. Neonatal Period - birth to two weeks.

  • Eyes and ears are closed
  • Neurologically under developed with 3 senses present: touch,taste, and smell. Handling and other interaction experienced at this stage can lead to quicker maturation of the nervous system and may enhance the development of motor and problem solving skills.
  • Newborns have a lower than normal body temperature (34.5-35.5C) and are incapable of regulating their body temperature; optimal puppy development requires much warmer environmental temperatures, ideally temperatures of 26C, which can be achieved with the use of heating lamps and heating pads.
  • There is no emotional development, social attachment, or learning taking place during the Neonatal Period.
  • Newborns are unable to urinate or defecate without external stimulation which is normally provided by the mother.
  • Neonatal activity is basically limited to seeking warmth and nourishment. Newborn puppies will feed approximately every two hours and ideally the birth weight will double in the first week of life. Colostrum, or first milk, produced by the mother is rich in antibodies and is instrumental in providing passive immunity against disease during these early weeks of life.
  • As much as 90% of the puppy's time will be spent sleeping. While asleep they move only to re-position their body. Twitching will occur while sleeping due to REM stage of sleep, a stage indicative of high brain activity.

submitted september 2017 by kelly