12 Tips for Caring for Newborn Puppies

You never know when you may need the knowledge for care for newborn puppies. In one recent story, a dog whose puppies died before rescuers found her became the surrogate mother of a litter of puppies

1. Newborn pups should be kept in a whelping box for the first two weeks of their life

A whelping box will keep the puppies warm and protected. Most pet stores sell whelping boxes but you can make one using a cardboard box. Pick out a used box that has enough room for the mom dog to lie down comfortably, while she’s feeding the litter. Make sure that the sides of the boxes are tall enough so that the pups won’t get out but the mom dog could easily get in.

2. Line the whelping box with towels or old newspapers

Puppies have yet to learn to keep their body heat regulated. They will need help and support in this area for the next two weeks after birth, according to Veterinary Centers of America. So, to keep their space warmer, line the whelping box with old towels, clothes or newspapers. If you have the budget for it, invest in a washable vet bed made from fleece that reduces the dampness inside the whelping box.

3. Add a heated mat

Put a heated mat set in low to keep the puppies under the pile of newspapers. This mat will be especially helpful when their mom dog is not around. You may also light a lamp on one corner of the box to provide additional heat. This lamp will also help the puppies’ fur dry out faster.

4. Have extra space for the pups to wander in the box

By two weeks old, the puppies will start crawling and wandering in the whelping box. You will need a bigger box then so they can wander about and be mobile without worry that the mother would lie down on them and accidentally suffocate the pups.

5. Consider covering a part of the whelping box

Pups and mom dogs feel more secure and protected when there’s a covering on part of the whelping box. It’s good to consider putting a blanket or towel over it so that it looks like a den or a cave that will provide more comfort.

6. Be sure to put the box in a quiet area

Mom dogs must not be disturbed and distracted during feedings, so it’s best to set the whelping box in a quiet part of your house. Make food and water accessible nearby, as well so that the mom dog would be more at ease with separating from the pups for a few minutes.

7. Don’t show the pups to visitors in the first few weeks

The mom dog will be extra protective of her pups and might show aggression to humans she’s not familiar with. She will see these people as threats and will protect the puppies out of instinct, hence it’s best not to show the puppies in the first few weeks after their birth.

8. Puppies in their first few weeks will mostly sleep

Don’t worry if the puppies aren’t active for a while. It’s common for them to be asleep most of the time, so let them be. Puppies begin to grow cute, cuddly and curious by the fourth week.

9. Monitor their weight to determine good health

The best gauge to tell if the puppy is progressing towards good health is to monitor their weight at least every other day. A significant weight loss could indicate a health or nourishment problem. A restless pup could be a sign that it’s not getting enough milk from the mom dog. You might need to supplement feeding with commercially available dog’s milk if this is the case, but make sure to ask your vet for recommendations first.

10. Use the crate to house train pups

You’ll need a crate once the pup is bigger and older. The dog crate will serve as the dog’s sleeping area. Treat this as the puppy’s “room,” if you will, which will greatly help with house training. Putting the pup in a crate will teach him to recognize and respect boundaries inside your house. It will also help prevent separation anxiety as you can teach the dog to enjoy his time alone inside the crate. Just make sure to keep the puppy busy by putting lots of chew toys in his room.

11. Weaning lasts until eight weeks

Puppies need mom dogs to wean them until they are about eight weeks old. Apart from that, they will need to learn to play and socialize with their siblings before they can be put up for adoption. According to veterinarian Meredith Stepita, puppies learn pack dominance around this time as well.

12. Start the potty training

Potty training is part of raising a good puppy. Pet owners must exercise calmness during this phase since it will take time for the little pooches to adapt to this behavior. Don’t punish the puppy if he accidentally pees on your carpet or poops indoors. If you discipline a pup this way, it’s this bad behavior that will be reinforced.  So, it’s best to establish a schedule for feeding, potty training, walks and playtime early on so that the pup will learn to take the cue when she’s about to go.

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