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What to Expect - Puppy to Dog

A puppy is a juvenile dog. Born after an average of 63 days of gestation, puppies begin to nurse
almost immediately. If the litter exceeds six puppies, particularly if one or more are obvious
runts, human intervention in hand-feeding the stronger puppies is necessary to ensure that the
runts get proper nourishment and attention from the mother. As they reach one month of age,
puppies are gradually weaned and begin to eat solid food. At first, puppies spend the large
majority of their time sleeping and the rest feeding. They instinctively pile together into a heap,
and become distressed if separated from physical contact with their littermates, by even a short
distance.
Puppies are born with a fully functional sense of smell but can't open their eyes. During their
first two weeks, a puppy's senses all develop rapidly. During this stage the nose is the primary
sense organ used by puppies to find their mother's teats, and to locate their litter-mates. Puppies
open their eyes about nine to eleven days following birth.
Puppies develop very quickly during their first three months, particularly after their eyes and ears
open and they are no longer completely dependent on their mother. They play wrestling, chase,
dominance, and tug-of-war games.
Puppies are highly social animals and spend most of their waking hours interacting with either
their mother or littermates. It is important that puppies are socialized with humans, particularly
between the ages of eight and twelve weeks, so as to encourage healthy interaction and develop
the puppy's social skills around people. Puppies ideally should be exposed to as wide a variety of
friendly people as possible during this period. Dogs that do not receive adequate socialization
during this sensitive period may display fearful behavior around humans or other dogs as adults.
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