(The first 21 days)
It is important to condition the puppies to touch. Even at this young age we are gently handling the puppies. The puppies are handled by both male and female genders and children. Beginning Day 14 to about 28th day of their development it is vital that this touch therapy happen on a regular basis.
EEG (Electroencephalograph) tracings show that the puppies waking brain-wave pattern is identical to their sleeping brain-wave pattern. This means that they do not have true consciousness - and they will remain so until the 20th day of their life. While their "conscious" brain cannot yet be programmed, this is not so with certain reflex pathways in their spinal cords. The first reflex which can be conditioned is the pannus (or cutaneous) muscle reflex. Conditioning of this reflex, so that it becomes abolished, or inactive, or non-responsive to human touch, begins it critical period at Day 14 and finishes at Day 28. This is often referred to as "The Critical Period of Touch Conditioning".
Cutaneous muscle, under the skin, all over the body, will twitch (startle response) when skin is touched, throughout life, by human beings of whichever sex do not take part in touch conditioning. In adult dogs (over 4 months), we see this as a dog which will not stand still and be willingly touched (examined) by any men, or by any women, whichever it lacked in its conditioning in this period of 14-28 days. This is the dog (or bitch) which has to be shown "only under female judges" or "won't let a man touch him/her". For a Show
Dog this is vital but even with a pet it is important that they tolerate touch. There is simply no better time to prepare a dog for being handled than during this period of time.
Day 9 - Day 12: Eyes open during this period, but puppies cannot focus, nor is there any conscious awareness of anything "seen".
Day 11 - 13: Ear canals begin to open for function, but are not "hooked up" for conscious interpretation of sounds.
Day 14: This the first day that the puppy will respond to touch.
Day 15-21, week 3: The puppy goes through a lot of physical changes. The baby teeth erupt at about 15 days.
Day 20: On this day all puppies brains are slowly (some faster than others) awakening.
Day 21: CONSCIOUS LIFE BEGINS NOW--Since the beginning we have touched and talked with the puppies. Today, however, we begin to interact with the puppies.