When Can You Hold Puppies?

Puppies are adorable and irresistible. They're tiny, cute, and cuddly, and have that infamous puppy's breath that smells like heaven. However, they are very fragile and susceptible to sickness, so you need to practice newborn puppy care and not be too rough when you're holding them.

2 months old dachshund puppy laying comfortably in hands of its owner
You need to practice newborn puppy care and not be too rough when you’re holding them.
credit: Alena Kravchenko/iStock/GettyImages

Holding newborn puppies

You can hold newborn puppies as soon as they come out of the mother's womb. While it's important that newborns spend ample time feeding from and bonding with their mother and other puppies in their litter, it won't harm them if you gently hold them. What you need to do is take a signal from the mother; if she growls at you, seems agitated, or gets aggressive when you are holding her puppies, then give them back to her immediately.

It is also important that you start slowly holding them, and don't take them too far from their mother. Only holding them for one or two minutes is ideal. As time goes on and they become less dependent on their mother, you can hold them for longer. Never take a puppy off his mother while he's breastfeeding, because drinking her milk is crucial for his health and natural development. Also, don't remove a pup if his mother is cleaning him.

Supervising children with puppies

When you're holding the puppies, you may know to be as gentle as possible. But if there are children who want to hold them, you need to caution the children to do the same. Always make sure you're around when children are holding the puppies. Also, make sure no other dogs are there so the mother doesn't become protective and aggressive.

Newborn puppy care tips

Newborn puppies, week by week, are growing at a rapid rate. They are slowly opening their eyes, eating solid food, socializing with other dogs, and no longer needing a heat lamp for puppies in order to regulate their body temperature. The thing is, they still require some extra newborn puppy care for those early stages in their life.

Make sure the puppies are eating regularly and are able to latch onto their mother's nipples. If this is not happening, you may need to bottle-feed them. Monitor their health and check for signs of sickness like diarrhea, vomiting, and a lot of crying. At 4 to 8 weeks of age, you can start feeding the puppies a mix of milk and dry dog food before you get them acclimated to dry food.

You'll also want to buy a scale so you can keep track of the puppies' weight; ask your veterinarian what the appropriate weight should be for newborn puppies week by week. At about 6 to 8 weeks of age, you'll have to take your puppies in for their vaccinations. Before then, they should be kept away from other dogs in case those dogs are unvaccinated.

Further care for puppies

Between 7 weeks and 4 months of age, after your puppies have had their vaccines, you'll need to socialize them with other people and dogs. This is a critical part of their development and will ensure they get along with other dogs and people. Take puppies on frequent walks, exposing them to different sights and smells, and consider enrolling them in puppy classes. By socializing early, your pups will be well adjusted and set up for success throughout the rest of their lives.