Caring for a Newborn Puppy (cont.)

Should I Hold the Puppy?

Puppies should not be overhandled during their first two weeks of life, and care should always be taken not to upset the mother dog when handling. If you are hand-raising pups, handle them only as much as is necessary to keep them warm, clean and fed for the first two weeks of life.

Make sure they are staying warm at this tender age-a well-monitored heating pad or warm water bottle wrapped in a towel will do the trick. Starting at three weeks of age, try to gently handle the puppies in short sessions a few times every day-this is around the time their vision and hearing are kicking in and their teeth are beginning to develop and is considered an important time for socialization. Please take care not to allow children to do any handling without adult supervision, and not until the puppies are at least three weeks of age.

How Can I Teach a Puppy to Go to the Bathroom?

During their first few weeks of life, puppies are unable to urinate and defecate on their own. Dog mothers instinctively stimulate their babies to excrete waste through licking. If you are raising puppies without a mother dog, you will have to assume this-luckily, you can use your hands instead of your tongue! Dip a soft washcloth or a piece of gauze in warm water and gently massage the anal and urinary regions after feeding. The warmth, texture and movement mimic a mother dog's tongue. It is vital that you do this, so have your vet coach you on methods of encouraging newborn puppies to relieve themselves. Puppies begin excreting on their own at about three to four weeks of age.