First week:  (day 0-7) Mama dog and her pups enjoy a quiet, private room.  Eyes and ears are closed at this stage, but nose works well. Also the tactile receptors of the skin and hair follicles are sensitive. The pups are handled daily,  weighed and measured; however, I do not subscribe to some of the “Early Neurological Stimulation” pseudoscience. Cotons are excellent mothers, and have been fortunate that none of my girls have needed anything beyond basic pampering. During this week, I nickname the puppies which does not affect the permanent record but allows me to keep records of the pups.

Second week:  ( day 8-14) Pups are squirming all over, and begin vocalizing, something similar to future barks and growls.  Pups receive their first worming, nail trim and ten measurements are taken on each pup.  Eyes open, nose & eye pigment increases while coat color noticeably fades.  Mama spends about half her time nursing, and the rest of time running around the house.  She’s ready for a Mother’s Day Out.

Third week: (day 15-21)  The eyes open and the pups can see, hear and smell.  They begin to try to walk.  Occasionally, one of them “escapes” from the bassinet and mama dog will have a tantrum.  They are too big for her to pick them up. 

Fourth week:   (day 22-28) The pups move out of the “bassinet” and into a “Toddler room.”  They have a crate to sleep in and a play area of artificial turf.  The pups learn to use the turf for pottying.  Toys are suspended from a PVC pipe about eye level.  I include non toy items such as paint brushes, plastic cups, fabric items and bells.  Pups love noise especially bells.  I want them to experiment different textures, smells, sounds.  They may try food this week, but they don’t have teeth yet.  The pups receive a seconded worming.  Occasionally, problems may be noted and addressed.  Fortunately, I am close to Texas A&M College of Veterinary medicine and to numerous specialists in Houston.

Fifth week:  (day 29-35)  The pups are moving well and discovering toys and other dogs.  They will actively play, but are still awkward.  They will put food into their mouths and chew.  The pups receive Bordetella vaccination.  This is given intranasally,  Imagine the fun of sticking a plastic syringe up the nose of a squirming pup. The puppies are interacting with people and other dogs, and have begun to waggle their tales.

Sixth week: (day 36-42)  The puppies are developing quickly and beginning to wonder about the world beyond the playpen.  They are playing with each other and the mature dogs.  Hanging toys, especially anything that makes noise are a favorite.  They also like to carry toys, because of their small size, I often use Cat Toys.  These toys are quickly destroyed if the adults find them.  They receive a 5 way injection to vaccinate against Distemper, Adenovirus type 1, Adenovirus type 2, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus.

Seventh week:  The attack on human feet, adult dogs, shoes, and electric cords has begun. The little brats are getting plenty of exercise.   Forbidden items are coated with chew stop.   The puppies go in and out of the toddler room and go outside.  They stay in the grooming/sewing room with me and the other dogs.  Any odd noise requires human attention.  A fresh toy is presented to them daily from my stash, I have stuffed toys, stuff-less toys, rope toys, chew toys, rubber toys,  and squeaky toys.  They still sleep in the crate at night (which is the “den”) and if separated, will fuss.  This is not separation anxiety but a natural self defense. Any pup separated from the “pack” in the wild will become food for the nearest varmint.

Eighth week:  Pups are measured and evaluated for pet vs show.  Heart worm, flea-tick med, nine-way vaccine given.  The pups are doing reasonable well in appropriate pottying.

Ninth week:  Pups are prepared for their new homes.  They are examined by a vet and receive a health certificate.  I prep the paperwork and puppy pak.  Pups go home with a binder filled with registration, certified pedigree, puppy care, scientific articles, breed history, copies of parents’ health screen and parents’ titles.  The new owner also receives grooming supplies, parasite control, training supplies, housebreaking supplies,  dental care supplies, food  and water supplies, bed-time toys and sleeping supplies.  Given that about half of new owners travel by airline, the supplies are pack to be a carry-on by TSA standards.