The first eight weeks of your puppies' life

After your puppies have been born, it's helpful to know what to expect as they continue to develop during the first few weeks of their lives. Knowing more about these different developmental stages helps you to understand what you can do to support them, how to socialise them and how to get them used to new sights, sounds, smells, people and places. 

Weeks one and two

This should be a quiet time for both the mother and the puppies, as this is the time when the maternal bond is established. You should be gently handling the puppies to check on good progress and generally ensuring the mother and puppies are doing well. Any causes for concern should be discussed with your vet.

Week three

This is the first week of socialisation and habituation (getting them used to things in the world). It's a really important week, and a busy one!

In week 3, the puppy’s eyes start to open and while their vision is initially poor, they can see movement, although they may not notice stationary objects. Puppies also start to hear what's going on around them. This is the time to introduce the sights and sounds of family life. Anything they see or hear now will be accepted as normal.

In this week, the puppies are starting to learn about their social group. They learn to recognise their mother, littermates and also humans as being part of their family too. This is when they start the bonding process. 

Suggested tasks:

  • Make sure the puppies gets to hear as many sounds as possible
  • Provide lots of different things to look at
  • Handle, cuddle and pick up the puppies regularly, making sure they are being held in a comfortable, upright and natural position and are being fully supported

Week four

In week 4 the puppies are starting to develop their play behaviour, and also, if given the chance, their problem-solving behaviour. It is also a good time for them to begin to learn how to deal with the inevitable frustrations in life.

This is also the week to start to spend more time with each puppy individually – slowly increasing the time they spend away from their littermates and their mother. This will help to prevent separation problems, will develop independence and will encourage bonding with humans.

Suggested tasks:

  • Add things that the puppies can begin to experiment with - tug toys, kongs, tunnels etc. 
  • Allow each puppy one-to-one time, taking them out of the pen, away from their littermates, spending progressively longer time with them
  • Allow your puppies to visit the garden/patio - although always do this under supervision to avoid any accidents

Weeks five to seven

These weeks are a crucial time for the puppy’s brain development. This is when puppies are at their most curious and willing to approach people, but at the same time their natural fearfulness starts to be shaped by their environment.

Suggested tasks:

  • Put more interactive toys into the puppy pen at times when you can supervise
  • Once the puppies are happily eating solid foods, feed them from different bowls – plastic, metal, from your hand etc.
  • Over the next couple of weeks, try and make sure the puppy meets as many different people as possible

Week eight

For most puppies, week eight will be their last week before going off to their new life, as this is when most breeders send their puppies off to their new homes.

The breeder should have prepared everything they need to give the new dog owner, such as a puppy pack, a contract and registration documents.

Selling your puppies

Selling your puppies can sometime be difficult, but to help you find the best possible buyers for your puppies, we've created a step-by-step guide to selling your puppies and finding them a new home.

We can also help you find suitable homes for your new puppies with our
Find a Puppy service. This provides contact details of breeders who currently have Kennel Club registered pedigree puppies for sale in the UK.

You can advertise your whole litter for a period of two months from only £20. If you are an assured breeder or you are selling vulnerable native breed puppies, the service is free.

Benefits of advertising with us
  • All adverts are free to view by potential puppy owners
  • Puppies advertised are registered with The Kennel Club, which gives peace of mind to the puppy buying public
  • Over 300,000 searches are made each month by potential puppy owners
  • Security, only your town/region with contact details (name and telephone) are advertised, ensuring only invited customers view the puppies for sale
  • Customers can contact you via a contact form, to prevent possible misuse of your email
  • Feedback from breeders who have used the service found that new owners have taken time to research the breed
  • Actively manage your advert within your account, including marking individual puppies as sold and removing your advert if you sell all of your puppies before the expiration date
How do I get in contact to advertise?
If your litter has already been registered with The Kennel Club and you now wish to advertise the puppies for sale, please visit your online account where you can request a new advert, or manage existing adverts.