Labrador puppy new born
Week 1

Pups are born unable to see or hear, their eyes remaining tightly shut until they are 10 days old.  They are reliant on mum for all their needs: still unable to regulate body temperature they seek out their mum in order to stay warm.  For the first week almost all they will do is sleep and feed, putting all their energies into gaining weight gradually getting stronger every day. This is a busy time for our volunteer breed stock holders who carefully look after our dogs and their puppies.

Week 2

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By the end of their first week our pups are beginning to change.  Front legs are able to support their weight making it easier to seek out mum and the next milk feed.  At this stage our pups still can’t hear but they begin to sense vibrations.  Our yellow Labradors and golden retrievers will begin to lose their pink noses at around 7 days old and start to develop the darker pigmentation they have in later life.

At around ten days old our pups will start to open their eyes.  The world around them will be fuzzy to begin with but their sight will soon improve and help them discover their world.

Week 3

A puppies’ front and back legs are now much stronger and fully able to support their bodies.  Increasingly they’re exploring their world; play begins with their siblings and they begin to investigate and explore. They are less reliant on their mum now no longer needing to seek her out to keep warm.  This week, their sharp puppy teeth start to come through, it also means it’s time to begin weaning.

Week 4 – 5

Our puppies’ senses are now all fully developed. With help and guidance from their mum they are learning through play but this is also a good time to start to introduce new things to the pups.  Meeting new people, experiencing new sounds, being handled and meeting children will help our pups feel familiar and confident with experiences they come across in later life.

Periods of socialisation need to be positive and appropriate for the age of the puppies to avoid negative experiences or the puppy getting frightened.

Week 6 – 87 week old Labrador pup

Our pups are still ready to explore their world but from six weeks they are already becoming more reserved about new experiences. Socialising is still every bit as vital to ensuring our puppies have positive experiences around new and unfamiliar things, but getting appropriate socialisation to build up those good associations remains vital to giving a pup the best start in life.

Aged 7 or 8 weeks our pups go to live with their volunteer puppy socialisers, who care for them in their homes for around a year. Find out more about being a puppy socialiser and discover more about our training programme for assistance dogs.

Discover more about the incredible support our assistance dogs provide.