Puppies breathe faster than adult dogs and adult dogs breathe faster than humans do, as a general rule. They breathe rapidly because they have a higher heart rate as a puppy and if they are dreaming, it may even be higher.
Puppies will sleep a lot because that is when their little bodies are growing. In their first few months of life, they will double, even triple in size, depending on their breed. That is exhausting work for the body to do. Cells are replicating, bones are packing on the calcium and the result is that they sleep an awful lot.
As the blood circulates through the body, the heart beats to pump it around again. The smaller the body, the more often the heart tends to beat because the blood circulates faster. That blood is carrying vital nutrition to the cells of the body, which are absorbed as needed to supplement growth spurts and brain growth and development.
Puppies continue growing for the first 2 years of their lives. In the first few weeks of life, the can more than quadruple in size. Their brain is wiring itself and the neural pathways are using folic acid to grow. At birth, they have very little, if any, feeling in the tip of their tail. Within the first week of life, those nerve endings extend and bring sensations to them that they’ve not had before.
Teeth are developing and getting ready to erupt through the gums so that they can begin to eat solid foods. Be careful! Eating solid food doesn’t mean that they are ready for leaving mother or that they are fully weaned. A puppy should remain with his mother until at least 8 weeks of age.
During the final 3 to 4 weeks with their mother and siblings, their brain is fully developing and they are learning essential behavioral skills that will be ‘hard-wired’ for the rest of their lives. By removing puppies too young, we inadvertently create situations where dogs grow-up with insecurities and even aggression issues. Some do not fully understand how to play correctly without being too rough.
Bite inhibition is learned in these final weeks with littermates. If they don’t learn it fully, they will be nippier when they come to you. Dogs with herding breed ancestry will have more of a tendency to be nippy because it is part of the herding work they are bred for. All puppies can be nippy however. You want to address this right away.
Go to a puppy socialization playgroup as soon as you can. It is never too soon to begin socialization and training. You will need to wait until you’ve had your second set of shots in most locations. This ensures immunity before mixing with others. Taking pups out before they have shots is putting them at high risk of contracting deadly infections such as parvovirus. Parvo is a known killer of puppies. It preys upon the weak. Puppies are particularly susceptible.
The shots that puppies get will be done in 3 boosters. The first set of shots typically happens between 6 and 8 weeks. The second shot happens at approximately 12 weeks and the last shot will be given at or before 6 months of age. This should give them full immunity to whatever the vaccination covered. There are 5-way, 6-way, and 7-way shots available. Get the highest number so that more things are covered. You should also opt for the internasal bordatella mist.
This is to protect them from Canine Bordatella which is airborne and very contagious. It is also known as kennel cough. This can also kill the elderly and young dogs. It is like whooping cough in humans. They will cough very loudly and deep in their chest. It takes a while to recover if they become very ill.
Puppies are exposed to new things each time you leave the house and their little body is working hard to move muscles while handling all of that rapid growth at the same time. Puppies are also rapidly learning and filing new information.
Everything is a new experience and they are storing the memories and lessons learned. Giving them problem-solving games and puzzles that treats can be hidden inside of will encourage them to reason and use cognitive skills. In fact, it has been proven that when given problem-solving exercises, you can increase a dog’s IQ by as much as 50 points.
Dogs can learn to think and make the best choices. This means that they can learn right from wrong in terms of which gives them the best result. When an activity is rewarded, they will repeat that activity. This is because dogs are opportunists. This has served them well for thousands of years. They are survivors because they can adapt and change as necessary.
What Skills Should You Teach A Puppy First?
The first skill you will want to begin teaching is potty training. Most puppies catch on quickly if you take them outdoors at the same times and give them a treat each time they do their business in the right place. When they have an accident indoors, you shouldn’t punish after the fact. You can, however, attempt to catch them in the act and shoo them outside to finish outside. This will help them make connections.
Most people teach puppies to sit for a treat because it is easy to start with. Using a treat held over their nose is an easy way to guide them into a sit and immediately tell them they are good and give them the treat.
First skills to learn should include:
- Walking on a leash
- Kennel training
- Leave it – to get them to ignore a temptation
- No – the should be taught to respect the word
You don’t need to spank puppies with a newspaper. In fact, this may be harmful to their learning. You may inadvertently be teaching a dog to become aggressive to get their way. Never resort to being physical if you can possibly help it.
Join training groups and socialize your pup to behaving around other dogs. It is important that they learn to sit at home and out in public. A trainer in these groups will also cover how to redirect when puppies nip, bark, or play too rough. These are normal things.
As they learn and grow, they will naturally test boundaries to see just how much they can get by with. This is natures way. Don’t take it personally and do not assume they are aggressive or being bossy trying to be the pack leader, they are simply trying to test the rules as any child would do.
A dog, when fully grown, can have the mental capacity of a human child between the ages of 3 and 5. That is pretty smart. If you’ve ever had a conversation with a five-year-old, you know that they can be incredibly bright. Now imagine that a border collie can easily match this intelligence and can learn upward of 5,000 words in his lifetime.
Each breed is different but all pups have the potential to be very intelligent if you start them out on the right foot. Congratulations on taking note of your pup’s rapid breathing. Dogs are also quite perceptive and this will help you both communicate. Look for physical cues for the rest of their life. They will also notice yours.
Dogs are capable of smelling you bleeding from another room and some will become quite upset to check on you. Dogs can smell changes in your body chemistry that are precursors to seizures, melanoma skin cancer, diabetic high or low blood sugars, and more. If your dog is hovering over you, smelling your breath or tuned into a spot, in particular, he may be trying to communicate with you. Listen to him.
Dogs are not capable of verbal communication in detail. They will whine and cry, shrieking puppies will let you know they want out of their kennel; dogs do not communicate verbally in detail, however. They communicate with each other through body language. They are good at this and they read you constantly. They know your mood and your health with a look and a smell.
Dogs are a joy to have in your life. They will always breathe rapidly compared to you, especially in a deep sleep. Don’t be concerned but continue to be an advocate for your puppy as he grows into a capable and loyal companion to you.
Dawn Greer is a passionate blogger and animal rights activist. She is a pet lover, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, pet nutritionist, and former veterinary technician. She continues her work while writing blogs for pet lovers around the globe.