Puppy Timeline and Feeding Puppies

Puppy Timeline

Puppy Age Features
Day 1-3 Pups suckle 10 to 15 hours per day.
Day 3 Dewclaw removal (and tail docking where applicable).  Both of these procedures can be undertaken by the knowledgeable breeder.
Day 4 Pups suckle less (around 8 hours per day).
Day 10-12 Pups open their eyes.
Day 14 Worm pups (and their Mom) with approved puppy wormer.
Day 21 Pups can be taught to eat soft, milky meals from a dish.
Days 21-35 Gradually increase size, number (to 4 a day) and solidity of meals fed to pups and slowly reduce suckling access time with their mother.
Day 28 Worm pups (and their Mom) with approved puppy wormer.
Day 42 First vaccinations.

Worm pups with approved puppy wormer.

Days 49-56 Wean pups, if you haven’t already ( I normally wean mine by day 35).
Day 56 Worm pups with approved puppy wormer.

Pups can be released to their new homes.

If you have any problems or questions about mom or the puppies, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian.

Feeding your puppies

When the puppies are 3 or more weeks old, teach them over a week or so to eat out of a dish.  At this age, you can start them off with finely minced meat or fish mixed with warmed whole milk formula and soggy wheat biscuits/Farex into a wet gruel, served in a large shallow dish.  When you know they’ll be hungry (for example at first feed time of the morning) plant the puppy’s paws around the dish (yes, they will get messy) and use a plastic teaspoon to scoop a little of the mixture into each of their mouths to give them a taste.  Once they get the taste and overcome their fear of the situation, their nose will avidly follow the spoon down into the dish.  This way they will all learn to eat from the dish within a few days of coaching.

I gradually increase the solidity and frequency of their meals over a week or so, while cutting back on the number of times they are allowed to suckle from their mother (she’ll normally be very happy for you to take over by now).   From milky gruel they graduate to soft tinned puppy food.  By 5 weeks they should effectively be weaned and eating 4 meals a day.  From 5 to 6 weeks I introduce them to chicken necks which I first crush with a mallet and then cut into small pieces so as not to choke the puppies.

By now their daily feed regime looks something like this:

  • Early morning (as soon as I wake up) – Milky cereal with a raw egg or whole tinned fish (catfood) mixed in.  I also sprinkle a little of my home-made vitamin/mineral formula in, and add a dash of oil (olive, sunflower, or cod liver) or fat from our meat grill tray.
  • Mid morning – Tinned puppy food, tinned cat food, dog polony, leftovers or made-up dogfood recipe (see “The Healthy Dog Diet” page 51).
  • Mid afternoon – They can snack on puppy biscuits (ad lib).
  • Early evening – Crushed chicken wings or necks; once a week they get raw liver instead.

Housing Your Puppies

Until your puppies are about 3 1/2 weeks old, their mother will normally be happy to clean up any and all of their faeces and urine.  However, many initially zealous mothers will start to tire of the whole motherhood thing at about this time or soon after.  As soon as you start to notice your puppies mess persisting in their whelping box, it is time to move them to a run of their own.  I like to use a metal dog exercise pen for this purpose.


Notice that there is a clearly defined sleeping area (the crate which is lined with soft bedding material) and a metal tray full of sand.  The rest is lined with newspaper.  This arrangement is highly beneficial since it presents clearly separate areas for the puppies for sleeping, eating and toileting.  I have found it invaluable in “pre-potty training” my puppies.  Most of them very quickly “get it” to use the sand for their toileting exclusively.

Puppies raised by breeders in runs that have just newspaper for everything are often difficult to toilet train as they haven’t learnt to discriminate between their separate living areas.  The other benefit of the sand and the crate is that it helps the puppies to readily respond to crate-based potty training and associating sand (i.e. outside areas) with toileting.  This is a tremendous boon to their new owners who will be very grateful to you for taking this extra care in raising their puppy!