Timeline: Birth to 8 Weeks
There is a lot that goes into raising a litter of puppies! Once the puppies are born, this timeline will guide you through what each of our puppies experiences week by week while here at Pleasant Meadows. We want to give each one of our puppies the best possible start in life, and we recognize the need for early stimulation, daily handling of the puppies with lots of love, cuddles, and kisses, and proper socialization to help give each puppy a solid grounding in life. We will be sending out updates at two, four, six, and eight weeks of age, and the rest of the information can be found in this timeline below -- we simply couldn't fit every important detail into an update, so we added it here! Some puppies advance faster than others and each litter needs to be treated as individual, and so if there is a difference in the "normal timeline", it will be noted in our bi-weekly updates.
You can jump to a specific week of puppy development by using the menu on the RIGHT to zip down to exactly where you want to go!
Birth to 2 days of age:
All puppies are born with closed eyes and ears (they cannot see or hear until later), so their only senses at birth are smell, taste, and touch. Our puppies experience the sensation of human touch right from the moment they are born as we assist the mother in birthing, clamping of the umbilical cord, recording the gender and markings of each puppy born (for later identification), and assisting each puppy to nurse from the mother right away. The puppies locate their mother's nipples by their keen inborn sense of smell.
For the first couple of days we handle the puppies only when necessary, to weigh the puppies daily to ensure that each puppy is gaining weight and growing (indicator whether or not a puppy is getting sufficient milk from the mother), and if any other assistance is required.
We also observe the puppies closely to make sure that they are all nursing properly, and eliminating (peeing and pooping), moving around and sleeping normally, and that the puppies are neither too hot or too cold.
Day 3 to 16 days:
Within this time frame we will begin neurological stimulation based on the research and program developed by Arskeusky, Kellogg, and Yearkes and the "Bio Sensor" program (later known as the "Super Dog Program") which is highly endorsed by Dr. Carmen Battaglia. This program promotes early neurological stimulation in order to give the dog a superior advantage. It's development utilizes six exercises which were designed to stimulate the neurological system. This involves handling each puppy once per day, one at a time, while performing a series of five exercises. Listed in order of preference, the handler starts with one pup and stimulates it using each of the five exercises. The handler completes the series from beginning to end before starting with the next pup.
5. Thermal stimulation: Use a damp towel that has been cooled in a refrigerator for at least five minutes. Place the pup on the towel, feet down. Do not restrain it from moving. Time of stimulation 3 to 5 seconds. (Figure 5)
1. Tactical stimulation (between toes): Holding the pup in one hand, the handler gently stimulates (tickles) the pup between the toes on any one foot using a Q-tip. It is not necessary to see that the pup is feeling the tickle. Time of stimulation 3 to 5 seconds. (Figure 1)
2. Head held erect: Using both hands, the pup is held perpendicular to the ground, (straight up), so that its head is directly above its tail. This is an upwards position. Time of stimulation 3 to 5 seconds. (Figure 2)
Benefits of Stimulation
Five benefits have been observed in canines that were exposed to the Bio Sensor
stimulation exercises. The benefits noted were:
1. Improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate)
2. Stronger heart beats,
3. Stronger adrenal glands,
4. More tolerance to stress, and
5. Greater resistance to disease.
In tests of learning, stimulated pups were found to be more active and were more exploratory than their non-stimulated littermates over which they were dominant in competitive situations.
Secondary effects were also noted regarding test performance. In simple problem solving tests using detours in a maze, the non-stimulated pups became extremely aroused, whined a great deal, and made many errors. Their stimulated littermates were less disturbed or upset by test conditions and when comparisons were made, the stimulated littermates were more calm in the test environment, made fewer errors and gave only an occasional distress sound when stressed.
For information on this program in greater detail please CLICK HERE and watch the video below:
The "Bio Sensor" program in no way replaces the need for "normal" interaction with each puppy such as petting, cuddling, kisses, playing, etc. It is separate stimulation that has been proven to create better well rounded and confident dogs.
Somewhere during day 10 and 14, the puppies eyes and ears will open so that they can begin to see and hear the world around them. Mental growth and physical development accelerate from this point onward due to the visual and auditory stimulation, as well as, muscle growth as the puppies increase their activity.
2 to 3 weeks of age:
The "Bio Sensor" program carries over 2 days into the 2nd week of age.
Two weeks of age marks a pivotal point in a puppy's life because of all the vital steps that need to be introduced this week. One of those steps is the very early stages of weaning the puppies from their mother, and this should always be done gradually and carefully! The weaning process is done over the next 4 weeks of age so that it is introduced to the puppies in baby steps to avoid stress and in order that we can have our puppies weaned by 6 weeks of age, so that enough time remains for us to devote the final 2 weeks to establish each puppy on a feeding schedule that will allow the puppy a smoother transition into a new home. We also want to ensure that each puppy is eating a sufficient amount of kibbles and drinking sufficient water. Weaning the puppies by 6 weeks of age only means that the puppies are no longer nursing from the mother by 6 weeks, not that the mother is absent entirely. This careful weaning process will be explained throughout this timeline. Please take a look at our Puppy Weaning Stages page for a complete and individualized breakdown of the process.
At 2 weeks of age we offer 1 to 2 meals of goats milk per day depending on how much milk the mother got in to begin with, and the puppies will still have full day/night access to their mom.
The puppies are dewormed at 2 weeks of age with Drontal ( StrongidT or Nemex may also be used -- all of those varieties are safe for 2 week old puppies).
When the puppies eyes and ears open, we begin to introduce them to auditory stimulation which includes:
sound machine (various sounds such as static noise, rain falling, thunderstorms and other nature sounds, etc.)
music (various CD's, Radio)
During the early stages of their eyes and ears opening, there is a window of "no fear" where puppies can be introduced to various sights and sounds that if introduced at a later date may be harder for puppies to accept without fear. A puppy may still show some fear later on, but it will make the experience a lot easier for the puppy to overcome.
Our puppies will be visually introduced to:
humans (us and trusted friends or family)
various coloured whelping pads (the warm comfortable liners for our whelping boxes)
soft plush toys of various shapes, sizes, and colours
change of environment for puppy update photos at 2 weeks of age (usually a brightly coloured photo set)
With hearing and sight, the puppies have a whole new miniature world before them in their whelping box. They begin to walk and investigate everything through continued tactile, visual, and auditory exploration. Their physical, mental, and social growth expands greatly during this phase. We will continue to monitor their weight at this time when we introduce them to tasting goats milk in preparation for the weaning process. See our Puppy Weaning Stages page.
Below are just a few examples of the different types of sounds that our puppies hear throughout their 8 weeks here with us:
By 3 weeks the puppies are walking around on wobbly legs and the start of playing with their littermates is evident. The puppies are held and played with daily to further their social interaction skills, and to create bonds with humans.
3 weeks to 4 weeks:
At 3 weeks of age we offer 2 to 3 meals of goats milk per day depending on how much milk the mother has, and the puppies will still have full day/night access to their mom.
At this stage the puppies are playing fairly actively and are beginning to learn social skills from each other. To continue their physical and mental stimulation we rotate a vast variety of educational toys every 1-3 days depending on cleanliness needs. These brightly coloured toys include:
soft, plush stuffies (for comfort and texture)
an array of balls with rattles, bells, and lights (for general interest and sight and sound stimulation)
rubber puppy chew toys (to help stimulate their gums while their teeth are erupting)
crinkly toys (for auditory and mental stimulation)
Above are some examples of toys that may be used from 2 weeks onward.
Socially, as the puppies learn how to play, they will learn key behaviours such as what is known as "bite and be bitten" (if they bite their sibling, the sibling will bite back) which is not a form of aggression, but rather a very important lesson in the social structure of a dog pack. We continue to hold and play with the puppies daily.
At this stage the puppies nails will have grown sufficiently to need trimming, so we introduce them to this for the first time, and take the opportunity to brush their fur as well.
4 weeks to 5 weeks:
At 4 weeks of age we offer 3 to 4 meals of goats milk per day, and by this time we are also introducing pre-soaked kibbles that are mashed up to be about an "oatmeal" consistency, and the puppies will have access to the mother for a few hours in the afternoon (they usually feed 2-3 meals from their mother during this afternoon time) and then again throughout the night.
Please, once again, be sure to read the Puppy Weaning Stages page for a complete individualized breakdown of the weaning stage. In the video you can see puppies from Norah x Idris 2015 drinking some goats milk with pre-soaked kibbles that have been mashed up to about an "oatmeal" consistency.
The puppies are again dewormed with Drontal (StrongidT or Nemex may also be used).
At 4 weeks we expand their small world and move them from their whelping box to a puppy pen within the puppy room which gives them more play space and an introduction to pee-pad training. While the puppies were in the whelping box they were accustomed to a quilted pad, and when we transition them to the pen area they have a rubber mat for the flooring as well as a towel or fleece pad area for a change in textural stimulation. Once the puppies have caught on to the pee-pad training we introduce them to a puppy bed for a place to sleep in preparation for crate training to follow.
These stuffies show an example of a random assortment of the type of toys the puppies will play with from 4 weeks onward.
Above is an example of the whelping box where the puppies are born and spend the first 3 weeks of life. Pictured are Norah x Idris's litter 2015.
To the left shows an example of a transitional puppy pen from the whelping box, implementing the pee-pad, also textural stimulation with the towel, the introduction of a puppy hut/bed as a precursor to the crate, as well as an introduction to water from a bowl. The pen will be enlarged as the puppies grow and need more space and have mastered the pee-pad training. Pictured is Rhianna x Idris's puppies 2014.
5 weeks to 6 weeks:
At 5 weeks of age we will be feeding 4 to 5 meals of pre-soaked whole kibbles (made soft with water), portions according to the size of each puppy. Only a small amount of goats milk is added if "comfort food" is needed. The puppies will have access to the mother for 1 afternoon feeding and then again night time only, and this depends on how much milk the mother still has for her puppies.
The puppies are introduced to activity play centres for added stimulation. These provide fun activities with a variety of textures, sounds, and bright colours. Pee-pad training continues, and by now they are enjoying full-out-play with their siblings, and are able to make sense of the things in their environment. The puppies start to view people as providers and look forward to interaction.
Above are examples of the types of teething and rope toys that are used from 5 to 8 weeks.
Below are examples of assorted types of balls that are used from 3 to 8 weeks.
Above are videos of one of our activity play centers and one of our musical tunnels for the puppies!
Up until this point (unless otherwise specified) the puppies have been in our puppy room (Please see our Puppy Room Tour video!), and we integrate them into our living space (usually in our kitchen or living room) in a safe enclosure. They meet our other dogs throughout the day not only from the confines of their enclosure but with periodic monitored "free time" when they can investigate and play with our dogs -- this is a really fun learning experience for them! They learn key social behaviours such as respecting their elders in that of our dogs, and learning to be submissive and share. During this time of 5 to 8 weeks the puppies will experience all the sights, sounds, and smells of a household, which include but are not limited to:
Auditory . . .
cupboard doors opening and closing
drawers sliding out and in
household doors opening and closing
doorbell and knocking on door
rattling and clanging of pots and pans
scraping and stirring of cooking utensils
loading and unloading of dishwasher
radio and TV sounds
footsteps in the hall, on the stairs, etc.
Visual . . .
furniture and decor (in different rooms)
people (family and guests)
new rooms (new furniture in each room)
vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping (seeing it move)
food being prepared for people and for our dogs
groceries and other shopping items being carried into our home
garbage being carried out of our home
Smells . . .
food smells for people and dogs (baking and meal preparation)
laundry soap fragrances
Puppies seeing and hearing the vacuum! Here you can see Isabella X Tobi's puppies 2016.
The puppies are introduced to crate training with addition to a crate in their enclosure by 6 weeks. In the day time it is a play house where they can go in and out as they choose and they learn that this is a safe/quiet/cozy little den.
To the left shows the larger pen that the puppies transition to when we move them into our kitchen area at 5 weeks of age. The puppies will be using the pee-pad about 80% of the time, will have free choice water, and will be sleeping in the crate for naps throughout the day and they will be introduced to sleeping in the crate at night. As seen in the photos, sometimes the crate door will be closed. Pictured in the crate are Phaelon x Tobi's puppies 2015.
6 weeks to 7 weeks:
At 6 weeks of age we will be feeding 4 meals of pre-soaked kibbles, and the puppies will try other foods like, but not limited to, peas, carrots, watermelon, apple, egg, and cheese. The puppies will no longer have access to the mother for nursing as her milk will be dried up by this stage, but their mom will still be close by!
If the puppies have not been bathed previously (as it is sometimes necessary) this is the age when we usually do this. They will be exposed to an actual bath with water and shampoo, towel drying and blow drying, brushing of fur, and nail trimming.
This video is an example of what your puppy will experience during bath time.
Here you can see Dulcie and Tobi's puppies from 2013.
Above are examples of toys the puppies will play with from 6-8 weeks of age.
We also begin to teach the puppies to sit before placing their food dish in the pen. This provides a foundation for training, as each puppy will learn positive reinforcement for behaviour and learn to look to humans as their pack leaders.
7 weeks to 8 weeks:
The puppies will spend their remaining week at Pleasant Meadows getting them used to a feeding schedule for you to continue in your home being fed morning, afternoon, and evening. Please see our Recommended DOG FOOD page for full details on what the puppies are eating and the brands of food and healthy snacks that we recommend.
At 7 weeks of age we will be feeding 3 slightly larger meals per day of pre-soaked kibbles and canned food. The puppies will continue to try new foods, but always keeping the kibbles as the main bulk of their diet.
By now the puppies also will have mastered sitting before a meal as you can see our puppy Charlotte doing in the photo on the right. This helps puppies to look to you as their pack leader for guidance in every aspect of their life.
Left is an example of what the "go home" pens look like! We set up a pen area that could be similar to what you would have set up at home for your puppy. If you attach the pen right to the crate, it allows the puppy to use the pee-pads in the night so you don't have to get up (unless you want to!). Two pee-pads are pictured because whenever you make a change to your puppy's environment, it should be automatically assumed that your puppy
will need a larger pee-pad area in order to ensure that your puppy hits the mark and doesn't forget and miss the pad by mistake! Any configuration of pen can be used. Pictured is Norah x Trenton's litter 2017.
As it is almost time for the puppies to go to their new homes, they will be "fine-tuning" the skills they have been learning here at Pleasant Meadows. A vast array of experiences as well as foundational training (pee-pad, crate, sitting before a meal) have been a process of establishing routines and expectations step-by-step on a daily basis; and when your puppy joins you in your home you need to continue to make their new surroundings comfortable, loving, safe, and enjoyable as they continue learning and adjusting to your life-style with your rules as pack leader.
This is the time when the puppies are expanding upon their pack behaviour (social skills). They will have more freedom to learn important lessons such as, but not limited to, these key examples:
don't invade another dog's space
leave a sleeping dog alone
don't steal food from another dog
don't steal a toy from another dog
how to play nicely with others
respect a growl from an older dominant dog
At 7 and a half to 8 weeks of age (depending on availability of an appointment) the puppies will go to our veterinarian for a full health examination, and will receive deworming and their first booster shot. Our vet will check the following:
- Eyes (checked for abnormalities or discharge)
- Ears (checked for redness/infection)
- Mouth & throat (teeth alignment, checked for gum colour, swallow reflex)
- Heart (checked for irregular heartbeat patterns)
- Lungs (checked for rhythmic breaths and clarity of lungs)
- Stomach palpitation (checked for any signs of bloating, discomfort, or the presence of a hernia)
- Flexion of joints (checked for fluid movement of joints)
- Elbows and Patellas (checked for solid knee and elbow joints)
- Equilibrium (checked balance by turning the puppy on it's back to make sure the puppy can roll upright again)
- Postural Reflexes (checked for normal neurological reflexes by watching the gait/walk of the puppy, bending the puppy's paw upwards towards the belly to see if and how quickly the puppy can right itself to stand on the paw)
- Temperature (checked for normal body temperature)
- Weight (checked for healthy weight and growth rate)
At 8 weeks of age the puppies will be sufficiently eating enough pre-soaked kibbles to sustain themselves, and they have learned to eat at scheduled times in the morning, afternoon, and evening which will make the transition to their new homes a lot easier. Pre-soaking the kibbles about 10-15 minutes is ample time to just "take the crunch off".
Before your puppy leaves Pleasant Meadows we make every effort to expose your puppy to the outdoors depending on the weather conditions. According to the season, however, if the weather is extreme (excessively hot or frigid cold) we will not risk giving the puppies a bad experience outside, but if the weather co-operates, we will let them see the outdoors and feel the grass, leaves, rain, and snow depending on when the puppies are born and ready to go!
Here you can see puppies braving the cold for a few minutes. We provided a blanket so that they had an area to stand that was a little "warmer" than the freezing snow. Small puppies should only be outside for short periods at a time, and if the pup does not go to the bathroom, simply take them back inside to warm up and try again in a few minutes! Pictured is Norah X Trenton's puppies 2017.
Left is Norah X Amedeo's puppies 2016 and their first outside experience!
Right is Annalyse X Amedeo's puppies 2016 and their first outside experience!
Left is Charlotte X Emre's puppies 2017 and their first outside experience! Note that their time outside was much longer because of the beautiful sunny weather and we provided shade and water to prevent them from overheating in the sun!
We do not always provide a video of your puppy's outside experience, but each litter will have a similar experience to the puppies in the video examples shown here.
Thank you for following along with your puppy!