Puppies sleep about 90 percent of their first two weeks of life, waking only to nurse and to be cleaned. Their dark and quiet world is informed through their senses of smell and touch. Unable to control their own body temperature, the pups spend most of their time huddled together or cuddled against their dam.

By about eighteen days old, the pups have developed enough physical coordination and strength to progress from a belly crawl to a shaky walk. One of the first journeys a puppy takes is a few steps away from the sleeping corner to eliminate. Even very young pups seem to instinctively know that it's improper to soil their sleeping and eating quarters.

By three weeks of age, the pups have gained some control over their own elimination. They no longer require the stimulation of their mother's insistent licking. They can "go" on their own, although mama still nurses them and cleans up their body waste.

At first, the mother stays with her puppies around the clock, leaving them only when she must eat or relieve herself. As the pups grow, they become mobile and curious and start to follow mama when she leaves the whelping nest. When the mama dog stops a few steps away from the clean sleeping area, the pups, toddling close behind her, stop too. If they try to nurse, mama won't allow it right now. The pups mill around in frustration, then nature calls and they all urinate and defecate here, away from their bed. The dam returns to the nest with her litter waddling behind her. The puppies' first housetraining lesson has been a success.

Now about five weeks old, the pups are mobile and active, though still a bit clumsy. They begin to play games of stalking and pouncing on one another and their dam. Their eyesight and hearing are good now, and the sound of one puppy nursing brings all the others scrambling to dinner.

The pups have teeth now, and they're quite sharp. Their jaw muscles are growing stronger too, and when pups nurse too vigorously, those pin like teeth hurt their mamas sensitive teats. She realizes it's time to start weaning her litter.

Author's Bio: 

Anton Mihailescu is a Romanian dog trainer that writes on dog training techniques on his blog - caini de rasa.