Early Weeks

Learning how to be a dog.

Weeks 1-5

The first weeks of a dog's life are possibly the most important of its life, when the experiences your puppy has will form the basis of the dog they grow up to be.

Weeks 1 & 2

90% of the time snoozing, lots of suckling, touching, crawling and crying; vulnerable to the cold; need mother's touch to go to the toilet; eyes open at around 10 days.

Week 3

Begin to walk, see and hear better, go to the toilet without mum's touch

Week 4

Become more aware of sights and sounds around them; begin to recognise people; start to socialise

Week 5

Alert and fearless; start to play with people

Week 4 is when your puppy starts to learn to be a dog. The brain and nervous system are developing and now is the time that socialising with mum, siblings and people teaches them how to form attachments to humans and other dogs, and become well-rounded and confident. If a puppy is taken from the litter too early they may be less interested, even fearful of other dogs, pick fights when they grow up and be difficult to mate. They may also have difficulty forming attachments with humans or trusting people.

Puppies get some protection against diseases from their mother, but this is only short-term. Vaccination will help your puppy develop his or her own immunity to disease. Learn more in our Vaccination section, or ask your vet.

Your new puppy is a mini adventurer. Here are some tips for keeping him or her safe in their new home.

  • Keep all household cleaners, insecticides, fertilisers and other poisonous substances in cabinets or on high shelves. And keep the toilet lid closed.
  • Remove dangerous objects like dangling electric cords, loose nails, plastic bags, sharp objects, tiny objects or other potential hazards such as harmful plants and foods (see "Food to avoid")
  • Beware of long drops. Keep your pup off balconies, upper levels and high decks where they could slip through openings and fall.

Puppies need their essentials just like the rest of us. Here are a few for starters:


  • Puppies are prone to little accidents, so go for a cushion style with a water-proof, removable and machine washable cover.


  • If your dog will spend a lot of time outdoors, his kennel is his safe zone, to comfortably sleep, eat, rest and stay dry. They can also help with housebreaking your puppy.


  • Go for hard rubber chewing toys that can stand up to sharp, gnawing puppy teeth. And old favourites like balls and stick-shaped toys.


  • Stainless steel or ceramic bowls will last longer than plastic ones and are less likely to harbour bacteria. A very large dog may need a self-filling water bowl. Plastic dog bowls are less expensive, but they develop tiny scratches that can house bacteria, cause infections and trigger puppy acne. So you are better off buying stainless steel or ceramic bowls. If your puppy is a small dog breed, a large bowl is fine for water. But if they are going to sprout into a large or giant dog, you could consider something bigger that constantly fills.

A high-quality puppy food is essential for your dog’s health, development and growth. Learn all about what, when and how much to feed your dog in our nutrition section.

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