A Puppy’s Life: The First Week

Watching a week-old puppy develop from their first day of life is exciting. You get to see a lot of first experiences while watching the pup develop into a young dog.

Here’s what you can expect to see in a puppy at one week old.

The First Week of a Developing Puppy

When a puppy is born, it can’t see, hear or even regulate its own warmth. A newborn puppy won’t even go potty on its own. They need stimulation from their mother. A mother would lick the anal and genital area of a puppy to encourage them to potty. If you have an orphaned puppy, you could do something similar with a warm, damp cloth.

While puppies are growing in their first week of life, not many changes between their first day and their first week. A week-old puppy still can’t see or hear. They can’t even walk. Their main method of movement is just to crawl around looking for their mother’s milk. Good for mom, a week-old puppy hasn’t grown its “milk teeth” yet. Other than eating and making cute, whimpering sounds, a week-old puppy is going to sleep. For the first few weeks of a puppy’s life, they sleep around 22 hours a day.

All this time spent sleeping is because the puppy is growing. They need all the strength they can muster. During the pup’s first week of life, they usually double their weight. This growth helps the puppy get ready for the changes that will be coming in the next week or two. The extra weight they’ve grown also helps to regulate their temperature. While a newborn relies entirely on its mother for warmth, a week-old puppy is slowly building its weight so it can eventually become independent.

Training a Week-Old Puppy

Training and socializing a dog are two incredibly important steps in dog ownership. A wonderful dog who hasn’t received proper training will be unpredictable in stressful situations. It’s usually always better to start training young as well. Unfortunately, a week-old puppy is still not ready for training.

A week-old pup still can’t see or hear, so there really isn’t a way for you to even communicate with them other than touch. And a mother dog is still going to be very possessive of her pups. Even if she gave you permission to handle her pups, you’re not going to get much work done. You shouldn’t concern yourself training when they are this young anyways. The puppies socializing is far more important. Week old puppies will seek out their mother while they are awake, but they’ll also interact with their siblings. A new litter of puppies will be confined to a small area, and the pups will likely be crawling on each other.

One way you can start “training” a week-old puppy is to simply handle them. At such a young age, they won’t really know what’s going on, but the more you handle them, the better prepared they will be to work with humans later.

Caring for a Week-Old Puppy

If you own the mom that just gave birth, you shouldn’t have to do much. Mom will step in to take care of her pups. What you can do is just make sure the new family has a clean and warm area to rest in. Mom will likely enjoy an area that is a little dim as well. Creating a suitable “hiding” space can help the new mom relax because they would naturally be hiding from predators.

If the mom has rejected any of her pups, or if you have an orphaned puppy, here are a few things you can do to help:

  • Keep all puppies warm. A box with blankets and a heat lamp is one of the better options for this.
  • Feed the puppy every 2 to 3 hours. Be sure to use a formula specifically made for puppies this young. Using cow’s milk can make the puppy very sick.
  • Help your puppy poop. Use a warm, damp cotton ball or cloth to help stimulate the puppy’s anus and genitals. This will encourage them to defecate and urinate.
  • Gently massage the puppy. This mimics their mother’s grooming which is important for their development.

The first week of a puppy’s life is much more work than excitement, but you’re laying the groundwork for the well-rounded and well-behaved puppy that is coming in the next few weeks.

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