The First Seven Weeks: Raising Well-Adjusted Puppies
By Wendell J. Sammet, The
American Kennel Club's 2002 Breeder of the Year
As breeders, we have the opportunity
to start work early in producing our next generation
of well-adjusted breeding and show stock as well as
family pets. We can start when puppies are about 10
to 14 days old. Making the time to handle and talk
to your puppies on a daily basis, socialize them and
being aware of their early developmental needs will
result in a tenfold return for the life of the dogs
on the investment of time and care you put in during
J. Sammet with the AKC 2002 Breeder of the
Handling and Talking
Gently pick up each puppy, and roll her in many positions.
While speaking softly and holding the puppy in your
hands, roll her over on her stomach, on her side,
on her back, and so on. A puppy's hearing isn't fully
developed until she is about 10 to 14 days old, the
same approximate age that a pup's eyes open. While
rolling your puppies into different positions on daily
basis, notice the reactions you get from each pup.
Some will be very relaxed no matter what positions
they are in. These puppies will learn easily and adjust
well to their environments. They will be your candidates
for breeding and show stock.
It's important to do this exercise with pups at least
once a day. Twice a day is even better. Take turns
with other people to exercise the pups. Invite friends
and relatives to take a turn so the puppies get used
to different people handling them. Continue this until
the pups are about 3 weeks old (not so much the changing
of positions as the holding and talking).
Some puppies will become tense but, with continual
attention, will improve and make good pets. Others
that squirm and squeal at first may also improve over
a period of time, again with continual attention.
Take much care when selecting new homes for these
puppies to ensure that the new owners will continue
the nurturing care you have begun.
your puppies at an early age.
When puppies are 3 to 6 weeks-old, proper socialization
is critical. They need to be with their littermates
to play, scrap, bark and chew on each other. At this
stage the pups can hear and see well, and they have
a sense of smell that is becoming more complex. To
build the puppies' confidence and waylay fears and
potential future problems, the dam should remain with
the pups as long as she desires. Be careful to note
the dam's disposition while she is with her pups;
it can reflect onto them. The pups' nervous systems
continue to develop rapidly at this time. Expose them
to unfamiliar places and loud noises. Feed them in
one area, and let them out in another to relieve themselves.
This makes house training a bit simpler. Provide different
areas for play, perhaps a room with lots of activity,
as well as different outside areas with open space.
Pups' Developing Needs
The 5-to-7-week-old period is another extremely important
time in a puppy's development. During this period
a pup is totally dependent on the environment you
provide to stimulate and foster its development. The
pups also require attention from others for proper
Rapid growth occurs during this time. The puppy is
more stable on his legs, he has full sight and hearing,
and his brain is physically mature for the final stage
of physical development. A pup is ready to perform
his physical processes and has the ability to learn
what you teach him.
Many animal behaviorists agree that socialization
reaches its peak at the 49th day (7 weeks). At 8 to
9 weeks, the pup can go to his new owner and home.
He has received human contact and love. He has been
exposed to different environments and house breaking.
Now you can choose with confidence your pup for future
breeding and showing. And you can place the puppies
you choose to sell according to their temperaments
in homes with new owners. Different personalities
will match different homes and families. The individual
attention, interaction and love that puppies receive
during their first seven weeks are invaluable and
will reap lifetimes of rewards.
Wendell Sammet, the 2002 AKC Breeder of the Year,
has spent more than a half-century in purebred dogs.
He began with great success in Dalmatians, but he
soon made his mark in Poodles under his Ale-Kai Standard
Poodles Kennel name. Through the decades, he has prided
himself in breeding for health, temperament and breed
type. Wendell has always found time to serve as a
mentor for newcomers and as an advisor to his peers
in both the Poodle Club of America and the Dalmatian
Club of America.
|| Ronald N. Rella, director,
Theresa Shea, editor | Email: AKCbreeder@akc.org
Customer Service | Phone: 919-233-9767 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
© The American Kennel Club 2005