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Life of a Newborn Puppy

Born after an average of 63 days of gestation, puppies begin to nurse almost immediately. As they reach one month of age, puppies are gradually weaned and begin to eat solid food. The mother dog usually refuses to nurse at this stage, though she might let them occasionally nurse for comfort.

Colostrum is the antibody-rich fluid produced from the mother's mammary glands during the first day or two after birth. It contains a number of antibodies and growth factors. It's important for the puppy to consume this rich milk during the first 24 hours after birth.

We're with the mother during birth of the puppies in her whelping box. Kim and I set our alarm clock and check on the puppies every four hours, round the clock, during their first three days of life. We make sure they're warm, dry, and getting milk from mom. It's much like bringing a new baby home from the hospital.

At first, puppies spend the large majority of their time sleeping and the remainder feeding. They instinctively pile together into a heap, and become distressed if separated from physical contact with their littermates, by even a short distance.

Puppies are born with a fully functional sense of smell but can't open their eyes. During their first two weeks, a puppy's senses all develop rapidly. During this stage the nose is the primary sense organ used by puppies to find their mother's teats, and to locate their littermates, they use their sense of smell if they become separated by a short distance. Puppies open their eyes around ten to fourteen days following birth. At first, their retinas are poorly developed and their vision is poor. We keep the puppies out of direct sunlight during this time. Puppies are not able to see as well as adult dogs. In addition, puppies' ears remain sealed until about thirteen to seventeen days after birth, after which they respond more actively to sounds. Between two and four weeks old, puppies usually begin to growl, wag their tails, and bark.

They normally take their first steps around three to four weeks of age and are walking a few days afterward. By six weeks, they are running and playing with littermates.

We keep a detailed spreadsheet of all the "firsts" for each puppy. When they open their eyes, first step, first time to walk, first wet food, first bath, time of birth, etc. It's similar to a baby book sheet. We provide a copy of this with all our puppies.

We take very good care of the puppies and adults. They are part of our family.
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