Many studies have analyzed the behavior of puppies during their socialization period, while little attention has been paid to the transitional period, when vision and hearing develop. Here, we compared the average age of sensory and motor development, and the behavior among a total of 25 puppies. Each litter was videotaped during 1-hour daily sessions on postnatal days 10-21 and coded for the following mutually exclusive behavioral categories: sleeping, suckling and moving. The moving category included side-to-side head swinging, exploring, rolling and allogrooming. The opening of the eyelids, appearance of the startle response and ability to stand up with either the front or hind legs were identified. The duration and frequency of puppy behaviors varied significantly with breed and season of birth. Breed and gender differences in gross motor and sensory development were also observed. These findings may turn out to be crucial to enhance the welfare, standards of rearing, and behavioral interventions aimed at improving adaptability to novel stimuli in pet dogs.
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