Pups start crawling 2 – 3 days after birth and the use their nose as a sensory and a temperature probe, helping them to orient to their mum.
Their eyes open in the second week but as their retinas aren’t fully formed yet they can only see shadows.
It’s important that the pup has human contact during this time. Mild stress such as short periods away from the mum and handling by people will allow the pup to better deal with stress later on in life.
In the third week the pup’s ears begin to open. This is a great time to start to habituate pups to everyday sounds as their hearing is still limited, but will improve daily up to seven weeks old.
By eight weeks old, the puppy’s brain will have increased to five times its original size, and his brain won’t be fully developed until he’s between nine months and one year old. That means that when born, a pup has only approximately 10% of his adult brain.
Puppies who come from a litter that is predominately one gender are more likely to take on the gender characteristics of the rest of the litter, for example a lone female in a litter of males is more likely to cock her leg.
Pups go through a ‘sensitive period of socialisation’ roughly up to 13 weeks of age. Generally, most of this time is spent in the birth home, so choose your ‘breeder’ wisely. Puppies rehomed from outbuildings so significantly more fear and less likely to bond with new family. Puppies raised in a family home had less behavioural problems. Puppies born to stressed mothers are more likely to grow up to be fearful and if the mother is stressed during the later stages of pregnancy, the puppies are likely to be emotionally reactive and to have reduced learning ability.