The First Eight Weeks of a Puppy’s Life

Pet Store Puppies

A puppy’s journey to the right home always begins with its parents. Once it’s born, it needs special care from its mother until it becomes resilient on its own. Of course, the mother needs special care as well to ensure that her pups are healthy and develop properly.

For a breeder, the journey begins long before the first eight weeks of a puppy’s life. Let’s take a closer look at how puppies are bred and cared for before they become part of your family.

Finding the Right Parents

first day new born of golden retriever puppy dog lying beside her mom

It’s safe to say that the parent breeds play a crucial role in the life of a puppy, even long after the homes are found. This is because most breeders’ goals involve maintaining generational lines that strengthen the breed and uphold certain standards based on health and temperament.

More importantly, they want to ensure that each litter is strong and healthy, and void of any defects. It’s an art and a science. Responsible and dedicated breeders invest their time in learning about canine health and training. They study their breed’s standards and attend events and seminars to prepare for such a responsibility.

To ensure the best for each litter and future generation, the breeder will select their healthiest male and female to procreate. Before the procreation process, both parents must undergo several health checks by a licensed veterinarian to ensure that they are of optimal health and wellness.

Gestation and Post-Pregnancy

Once it is determined that the female has become pregnant, she and her unborn litter are closely monitored. The gestation period typically runs between 58 and 68 days (or about two months). During this time, the pregnant female is given special supplements and prenatal vitamins in addition to a high-quality and well-balanced diet to ensure optimal nourishment for her developing pups and milk.

Throughout her two month gestation period, she will be seen by the licensed vet regularly. These prenatal check-ups are to ensure a healthy pregnancy, making sure there are no signs of illness or discomfort.

Two weeks before the expected birth date, the mother is moved to a special area known as a whelping area. It’s a warm and safe space that pregnant mothers naturally seek out to give birth to their puppies. By moving her in prior to the birth, she can adjust to her whelping area and prepare for the coming birth of her puppies. Here she will have 24/7 access to the outdoors, receive extra attention, and can come and go from the area as she pleases.

Once the birthing process begins, the breeder remains by the mother’s side to assist if needed. A licensed veterinarian is typically present as well, especially for the specific dog breeds that require special procedures for the birthing. Once the litter is born, the puppies are licked clean by the mother and begin nursing within hours.

For the first week, the breeder will continuously check on the puppies and the mother to make sure that they are in good health. They will make sure that both the puppies and the mother are eating regularly and that there are no complications.

From 15 Days to Eight Weeks

During the first 15 to 20 days the puppy’s eyes will begin to open as they become more active. At around 20 to 25 days, most breeds begin to fully walk. Once they start walking, they begin to socialize and become exposed to the outdoors, exploring the world around them and familiarizing themselves with different surfaces and objects.

Their mother’s guidance is especially important during this time as the mother will pass along more than just physical traits. She will help them with their initial social behavior and trust, which is why those first eight weeks are crucial. The trust and socialization also come from the breeder and their kennel staff. They consistently monitor and interact with the new litters and breeding dogs, treating them with love, compassion, and respect, which helps create well-rounded and happy pups.

By the third or fourth week, puppies begin to wean from their mother and are introduced to soft food. By the sixth or seventh week, they begin eating dry kibble. At week seven the puppies are fully weaned off their mother and also start having less interaction with their mother. This is to prepare them for their new homes.

By week eight, the puppies are ready for adoption. Before each puppy leaves for their new home, they are checked out by the vet and given a certificate of good health. Once cleared, they’re on their way to a life filled with love, happiness, and good health.

A Healthy Puppy is a Happy Puppy

Breeders do all they can to care for their breeder dogs and pups. They invest a lot of time, money, and effort into what they do. This kind of dedication and commitment ensures healthy and happy generations of puppies as well as happy families.