What happens in the first eight weeks of a hearing dog puppy’s life?

The first few weeks of a hearing dog puppy’s life are crucial for their development. The newborn puppies will learn so much not only from their hearing dog mum, but also from the volunteer who looks after their mum full-time; a brood bitch holder. They will introduce these adorable pups to a number of new and exciting experiences.

cocker spaniel and newborn pups

The puppies stay with their mum for eight weeks before flying the nest in order to start the next exciting leg of their journey to becoming a life-changing hearing dog.

We train a number of different breeds, mainly Labradors, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles and Cockapoos. But in this section, we will be focusing on a litter of Cocker Spaniel puppies and their mum Bramble.

The newborn puppy: 0-1 week old

new born puppies ears shut

  • A newborn puppy can crawl immediately after birth – sometimes the whole length of their bed!
  • Although their eyes and ears are sealed shut for the puppy’s first weeks, they can make lots of cute squeaks and can recognise mum's scent straight away
  • Hearing dog puppies get daily health checks to get them used to being handled early on
  • They will generally feed from mum straight away – certainly within the first couple of hours

Puppy at 2 weeks old

 eyes starting to open

  • Our hearing dog puppies are usually weighed daily to ensure a steady gain, and will have doubled their birth weight by 10 days old – the little chubsters!
  • In this week they will also start to open their eyes gradually, but it takes a few days. Their eyes are always blue in the beginning but soon change colour
  • A newborn puppy will usually start to lift itself up onto their front paws by 10 days old

Puppy at 3 weeks old

young puppies in the litter

  • A puppy’s ears will begin to open by around 18 days, but it takes almost a week for them to open fully. This is arguably one of the most important developments for our hearing dog pups as one day these ears will help them to totally transform the life of a deaf person
  • Their eyesight will get much stronger in this week, and they will be starting to focus on objects and faces – you can even see them squinting at you sometimes to get focused
  • Our cute pups will be starting to stand up in this week, but they are still very wobbly
  • A puppy’s teeth will start making an appearance this week – although they won’t have all their baby teeth for around a fortnight. Watch out for a few gentle nibbles!
  • Once they have mastered standing and their eyes are fully opened, they get to sample some puppy food as a first step of weaning, but they are still getting all their goodness from mum
  • Hearing dog puppies will gradually get more eager visitors this week so that they get used to different types of people. And we’re never short of volunteers

Puppy at 4 weeks old

four week old puppies playing

  • By week four, our cute new puppies will start to take their first steps and become very inquisitive
  • This is the week where they understand the importance – and great fun – of playing with one another! They start to ‘play-bow’ and may give each other a friendly growl
  • They will also become interested in toys and soon learn how much fun they can be
  • They will now start to pick up lots of doggy mannerisms from their mum, which is very important
  • The pups will also be eating more and more by this week, and enjoying it more too – especially the Labrador puppies!

Puppy at 5 weeks old

puppy playing in the garden

  • Our hearing dog puppies will not only be introduced to new people, but also to new surroundings. We begin by bringing them into different rooms of the house
  • The puppies will also play out in the garden lots more as this is a great way to get them used to the big outdoors – and means there are fewer puddles to mop up inside
  • Newborn puppies don’t get their vaccinations until they are around eight weeks old, so they aren’t able to meet other dogs or go to public parks – but they do get to see lots of new things
  • Our brood bitch holder volunteers will take them to the bottom of their drives and hold them to let them see and hear the traffic – and to show them there’s nothing to be afraid of

Puppy at 6 weeks old

 cocker spaniel puppies 6 weeks

  • Our adorable puppies will be full of character – and mischief – by this week
  • They will have explored the house and the garden fully by this stage, and will have even been out in the car for a spin!
  • The pups will also be given the chance to play more as individuals, to show them they are still safe away from the litter
  • This will be the week our breeding scheme supervisors do a short behavioural test, and it’s usually when we decide whether they will become a sponsor puppy

Puppy at 7-8 weeks old

eight week old puppy

  • These are the last few weeks our hearing dog puppies will spend with their mum and siblings – but don’t worry, in almost all cases neither the pups nor the mum mind one bit
  • They will have been fully weaned onto solid foods at this stage, and put away four meals a day!
  • They will also be well accustomed to trips in the car by now, and will have sat in an open car boot in a local supermarket car park to watch the world go by
  • They will fly the nest during week 8 and will briefly come to our Hearing Dogs training centre for checks, vaccinations and to start the next step in their journey to becoming a hearing dog. Find out more about this stage here.