For the first couple of weeks, Frenchie puppies basically just nurse and sleep, although they do scoot around short distances to find their mother or siblings. During this time period, their mother has to stimulate them in order for them to urinate and have bowel movements. While some mothers take to this very naturally, others don’t enjoy this as much and so we have to stimulate the puppies with a damp, warm cotton ball. This is a very busy time for us (and we are usually very sleep deprived) because we assist the mother every 2 hours around the clock to make sure that all puppies are latching on well, growing, and being stimulated to urinate and defecate. It is a critical time in which the puppies are so small that an unaware Frenchie mother could accidently smother one or more of her pups – so we monitor them very closely.
At three weeks they all have their eyes open (which occurs around 10 days of age) and they are just starting to walk. They are now able to urinate and defecate on their own (this is when we start paper training). Their only nourishment is still mother’s milk – although it is during this week that they start getting their little teeth. They are starting to get more active as they discover their new ability to get around, although most of their time is still spent sleeping in their playpen.
Up to this point it is strictly their mother and us who have handled the pups (with lots of hand sanitizing before and after) and they have been kept in their playpen. During this fourth week, we start introducing them to solid food. The mothers naturally start wanting to decrease the amount of time and frequency of nursing (in large part by instinct, although those sharp little teeth probably play a big factor as well). We initially crush their dry dog food and then add warm water to soften it. By the beginning of the 5th week they are eating their crushed puppy food with no added water three times a day. Because they are not nursing as long or as often, we provide fresh water for them at all times. They are walking great at this age and are even trotting/running. The kids are allowed to hold them now (closely monitored and with clean hands) and we allow them to run around and explore our large main room in the house.
By the end of the 6th week they are completely weaned from their mom and eating solid food well. They scamper around full of energy and love to play with their litter mates and the kids. This is the time that we really focus on socializing them and paper training them. When they are not being held, played with, or having playtime around the room they are kept in their play pens. At one end is their comfy blanket or towel, in the middle we keep their water (and food when it is meal time) and at the other end is their bathroom area where we place a pee pad. Puppies have a natural instinct to keep their bedding clean and dry and they will instinctively go potty on the pad. All of our puppies have taken really well to this system.
From 6 to 8 weeks they have already passed through their puppy milestones and are just doing a whole lot of growing. This is when their personalities really start coming out! It is so fun to watch them play with the kids and their litter mates and observe their new fascination with toys. They have become so accustomed to going potty on pee pads that when they are out running around the room they recognize them on the floor and will go potty on them. Though they are fast, active, playful little puppies at this point in their lives, they still are like babies and require lots of sleep and are still quite fragile.
***All of our puppies are given their first DHPP immunization around 7 weeks of age (their second and third are each to be given 3 weeks after the preceding one and then a yearly booster thereafter) and are regularly de-wormed and given a medication for the prevention of coccidia. They are taken into the vet for a thorough vet check-up at around 7 weeks.***