So, you’ve decided to get a puppy! Preparing for your new canine bundle of joy is an exciting time. Many breeders do allow families to come and view their prospective new pet once the puppies are old enough to be properly socialized with people. Since the first five weeks of life are critical development periods for a puppy when their only source of immunity is derived from the maternal antibodies present in the milk of their mothers, it is not considered safe for puppies to meet people from outside their home. At five weeks of age, puppies are becoming inquisitive, and it is good for their social development for them to be permitted to meet people of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. The more varied, the better as puppies at this age are just learning to explore their world and are open to new experiences. However, extreme sanitary conditions must be observed in order for people outside the home to interact with baby puppies including removing of all shoes and careful washing of hands. With such low natural immunity, puppies this young can easily succumb to even the most minute amount of bacteria which could result in serious illness and even death. With this in mind, your puppy taking his very first steps is not something you will be able to witness in person. At what age do puppies begin to walk?
The Transition from Crawling to Walking
Puppies have a lot to learn in their first 16 weeks of life. Baby puppies are born with their eyes and ears tightly sealed shut as they continue to develop once the pups are born into this world. Typically from day 10-14, puppies will open their eyes for the very first time, and shortly thereafter, they will also gain the ability to hear.
But these are not the only things baby puppies are not able to do. Neonates are not able to urinate and defecate on their own for the first several weeks of life. Their mothers must lick their genitals to stimulate elimination. During this time period, the mother dog takes full responsibility for caring for her babies.
Of course, baby puppies are also not able to walk yet. Without the ability to see or hear or the ability to walk, puppies are entirely dependent upon heat sensors in their bodies to help them find a source of warmth and food. Baby puppies chill easily, so without access to the heat and food they require they would quite easily die.
So, how do baby puppies move if they can’t walk?
In the first two weeks of life, baby puppies move by laying on their bellies and using their front legs to pull themselves where they want to go. This is why during the early weeks of life, puppies should be kept in a whelping box that is suited to the size of the litter and the mother dog. A whelping box that is too big could spell disaster for a baby puppy who gets separated from his littermates and cannot find his way back to the mother dog. A chill or lack of food could spell death very quickly.
Experts agree that between days 15-21, puppies first begin exploring how to use their legs. Watching a baby puppy try to stand for the first time can be very comical indeed. At this age, puppies fall far more than they stand! During this time period, puppies do possess the muscle strength and capability to lay down, sit, and stand, but learning to do so takes time and much effort. Puppies are still learning how to move and how their legs function. It is not uncommon to see a puppy fall over when in a seated position or to plop down from a full stand like a drunken sailor.
By days 21-28, puppies are now stable enough on their feet to being taking their first steps. At this time, puppies lack the balance to walk in a coordinated fashion, but they are very interested in exploring! You will begin to see more of what resembles a walk interspersed with tripping and tumbling over obstacles including brothers and sisters.
Leading veterinary researchers agree that by week five of a puppy’s life he is physically capable of walking. It will take time and maturity for him to learn to do so without falling or tripping over things, but once he finds his sea legs; look out! You’ll be hard pressed to catch him!
When do puppies start walking?
Puppies do not possess the physical development or strength to walk at four weeks of age. However, five weeks is the magic number when puppies find their legs and make short work of exploring their surroundings! Though you may not be able to be present for your puppy’s first steps, your breeder may have video footage they can share with you. What cherished memories to file away to watch when your puppy has grown into an adult dog! When you’re chasing your pooch through a busy park, you’ll look back with fondness on the days when you likely could still outrun him!