When puppies are first born they live in a silent dark world. Their ears and eyes are closed shut. This called the Neonatal Stage of development and lasts from day 1-13. But even with just a few senses to direct them, the pups show amazing survival abilities. Their little noses direct them to the two things they need most for survival....food and warmth. They scoot across the floor seeking out their mothers milk. They already know that that smell is what they need. And when Dixie is not present, their little noses direct them to their litter mates, where they find a warm and cuddly place to sleep.
For our puppies, we also recognize that the human touch and smell that they get as newborns is an important part of socialization. Even though Dixie takes care of all the puppies needs for the first month, we make an effort to have some kind of human contact with each puppy every day. By imprinting with people very early in their development, it sets the stage for a lifetime relationship with humans....and eases the transition from litter to family life. But this is just the beginning....remember socialization is something that needs to be made a priority for every family, even after they take their puppy home.
For the first few weeks of life, all of the puppies time is spent sleeping and eating. But they are still very much aware of their surroundings and they really do not like to be alone. It was actually rather tricky for me to get individual photos of the puppies yesterday. When I picked up one of the puppies and put it on a blanket alone, it would squirm and cry. On the other hand, when I picked up a puppy and cradled it between two warm hands, he went to sleep right away. It is wonderful how nature has given these pups alove for companionship even at an early age.
That is what I notice as I observe this litter from the outside. But what is happening inside? Inside this is the time for significant development in brains, ears and eye. And in just one more week these puppies will emerge from their world of darkness and begin to open up to the world around them. Significant as this next stage of sight and sound will be for the puppies, it is an interesting fact that with the canine world, smell is always the most predominant of the senses.