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The beginning:

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 sleep.

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.