The first hours of the puppy
The adventure begins of course in the belly of the mother. Puppies (like all mammals) live until the moment of calving in total bliss, without having to worry about their survival and dangers. The same can not be said of the dog, who lives a rather delicate moment, during which she is nervous, tired and heavy
The birth of puppies
The situation has now returned: the mother is relaxed, quiet, rightly proud of the beautiful reach she gave birth to. For puppies however, it is the fight for life that begins. And this is a bitter struggle, even if it seems to boil down to " eating and sleeping ."
During this first phase of life, which ethologists call " phase vegetative , the puppy is already learning. He learns to use his senses to feed himself and thus survive... which is not nothing!
The "senses" of newborns
At birth, the puppy is deaf and blind: but he does not base not just on the flair to find her mother's breasts. In reality, if you put a puppy on a table and put a heat source (for example a small radiator) a few inches away from him, we will see him rush to try to reach her.
Newborns therefore have two well-developed meanings at the time of their birth: the flair on the one hand, and the instinct to move towards a heat source on the other share. Warm, the puppy feels safety : this explains that he feels perfectly comfortable, even lying on a leg of his mother. The flair is used to find the smell of milk when the hunger is felt.
When one of the puppies wakes up and goes to the assault of a teat in the "swimming" movement Typical of newborns, it almost inevitably awakens its brothers and unleashes a real " milk race ". If there are teats for everyone, the puppies share the food source in a few seconds by arranging themselves in an orderly and silent row... while when the pups are too numerous compared to the number of udders (eight at the dog, but most often, only six produce milk), we see the puppies put in "heap". Artificial breastfeeding should be considered.
"Struggle for survival" begins
When puppies "pile up" on breasts, only the most alive - able to perform real acrobatics - always manage to the milk. In nature, others would succumb; but where a master is monitoring the situation, a small intervention is enough to establish a " alternation " between the puppies.
If the litter is particularly large, it may be necessary to administer artificial milk in addition (artificial milk made for dogs: cow's milk is not suitable and can even prove fatal). Giving some puppies "nanny" to another dog can also be very effective, but it's obviously easier for a breeder than for an individual.
In most cases, however, the situation is not too worrying: in general, the dog is quite capable of taking care of its even large reach. Just make sure that all puppies are sufficiently fed , because the first days are very delicate. If one of them stays away and skips a meal or two, then he may not have enough strength to feed himself.
The pups, up to the age of 10 to 15 days can not do their own thing: it is their mother who stimulates them by licking their little belly carefully. From this moment, the puppies begin to associate (unconsciously) the action of licking with a sign of affection and parental care. This is what will then push them to lick their hands or face to show us their love .
"The heat effect"
It's not just for finding mom, but also to identify his brothers and sisters. Puppies, in the absence of the mother, "pile up" on each other to keep warm and avoid the risk of getting out of the den and getting lost.
Initially, the search for heat is a simple instinctive reaction; but beyond the age of two weeks, when the puppy begins to consciously place himself in the world , he will also begin to "recognize" his brothers in a precise way. This is where the association of ideas will come into being: loneliness equals danger, company equals safety.
And that is also why the dog, including in adulthood, does not like not to be alone and always looking for his master's company.
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