The healthy newborn puppy is blind, deaf, toothless, and hungry.
It can drag itself around to find a teat (but it cannot walk) and it
can suck. If the puppy feels lost, cold, or uncomfortable, it cries.
If it is comfortable it sleeps.
The mother is very defensive when it comes to her puppies. If she
is very relaxed and trusting of her people, she may allow the puppies
to be handled right away. But for the first day or two it is best
to leave the puppies alone unless necessary. The mother may threaten,
or even attack, a stranger or a child.
Sometimes a little puppy will cry without any obvious reason. If the
mother has insufficient milk, supplementary feeding usually takes
care of the problem. Or the puppy may be cold; a wrapped hot water
bottle will help. If that is not the problem either, the puppy
may need to relieve itself. Newborn puppies must be rolled on their
back and have their tummies licked by their mother in order to go.
Puppies only a few days old sleep a lot, and most of their sleeping
periods are active -- spent jerking and twitching. They may appear to be
sucking; they may close their (already closed) eyes even more tightly.
Apparently the puppies are already dreaming. In fact, mammals
begin dreaming in the womb and active sleep appears before quiet
Puppies grow while they sleep. But, a puppy has difficulty keeping
warm, because it has such a small body. A puppy cannot shiver to
generate heat. Consequently, little puppies sleep tucked up next to
each other and their mother to keep warm.
Source: A Dog's Life: A year in the life of a dog
family, by Jane Burton and Michael Allaby, Howell Book House, Inc.,
New York, 1986, pp. 20-25.