Small Munsterlander puppies are babies and just like human babies they go through various stages on their way to adulthood. Knowing the stages of development will help you meet their needs as well as understand their behavior, what is normal and what isn't, and what's the best way to deal with situations that will crop up. Knowing what your role is in their development and training will help to ensure your puppy becomes a loving, well behaved member of your family.
Your Puppy's Stages of Development:
First Stage (0-3 Weeks). Also known as the Neonatal Stage, puppies are born with their eyes and ears closed and without any teeth although their sense of touch and taste is immediately present. The puppies mainly eat and sleep during the first few weeks and you may notice twitching which is normal and is part of their nerves developing. The puppies cannot regulate their own body temperature when they are so young, so they huddle together as well as sleep close to their mother for warmth (we use heat lamps to help keep them warm for the first few weeks). At about 2 weeks the pups begin to open their eyes and their ears begin to open at around 3 weeks old, as well as teeth begin to break through the gums.
Your Puppy's Needs: During these first few weeks your Small Musnterlander gets everything they need from their mother. She feeds them and licks them to release their urine and bowel movements as they cannot do that for themselves yet. During this time, we perform neurologic stimulation, which are exercises to help "jump start" the puppy's neurologic system.
Testing has shown these experiences help to stimulate their senses as well as allow them to tolerate stressful situations better when they become adults. We also expose the pups to different sounds (vacume, dishwasher, TV, washer/dryer), let them experience different textures as well as hold them alot! During this time the pups get their first vet check up and have their dew claws removed.
Second Stage (3-12 Weeks). From 3-4 weeks, which is also known as the Transitional Stage, the pups grow at a phenomenal rate. The pups by now are standing and walking with good balance, wagging their tails and barking. By the end of the 4th week their eye sight is well developed and they can recognize their litter mates and humans. The puppies can also now regulate their own body temperature and start to feel the urge to pee & poop.
Weeks 4-12 are known as the Socialization Stage. During this time, their mother and littermates play a vital role in socialization as well as human interaction. With their littermates, the puppies learn to play and develop their social skills. They learn from their litter mates about biting, they explore their social boundaries, further develop their physical coordination and learn about hiearchy.
The puppies teeth have emerged by 5 weeks and we begin to introduce them to food other than their mother's milk. At first we give them puppy chow soaked in puppy formula and mixed in a blender to the consistency of runny oatmeal and serve this to the puppies in metal bowls - the pups tend to get more on themselves than in their mouths at first, but quickly learn how to lap up the mixture. We continue to mix less and less puppy formula with the puppy chow as the weeks pass and around 7 weeks the pups are eating dry puppy chow. As the pups begin to eat the puppy food, their mother begins to wean the pups by going for longer periods of time between nursing, and as the pups grow they eat more at each meal until they are finally eating just twice a day by 8 weeks.
Your Puppy's Needs: The most critical time in a puppy's life for learning life lessons as well as developing their thinking skills and temperment is from 3-12 weeks. During this developmental stage, we continue increasing the puppies's exposure to different textures, sounds and smells. We take advantage of this important time and provide a structured learning environment to help develop your puppy's critical thinking skills and intelligence. We give them periods away from their mother and siblings to help them get used to being separated and lots of holding/cuddling time and love with positive reinforcement. We exercise them outside as well as inside and give them visually stimulating toys to play with and climb on. Often we see the pups "pointing" their toys as they begin to develop their natural hunting instincts. We expose them to "challenges" that make them think through the situation so they get used to challenges in life and don't react negatively - this creates a much more calm dog that has a "been there, done that" attitude to life's stressors. We introduce them gradually to solid food and potty training. Once the pups leave their whelping box around 4-5 weeks, we rotate them to various larger playrooms that have toys for developing coordination and begin to crate train them so that by 8 weeks they are comfortable sleeping in their crates for naps and at night. Finally during this time the pups get their first set of puppy shots, are wormed 3 times and are microchipped at 8 weeks old.