In week 3, the puppy’s eyes start to open and, while his vision is initially poor, he can see movement (although may not notice stationary objects). He also starts to hear what is going on around him. This is the time to start to introduce the sights and sounds of family life – anything he sees or hears now will be accepted as normal.
He will begin to startle when hearing unexpected sounds but, as his fear response is not fully developed, he will quickly return to normal. This is how he should learn to respond to non-threatening events as an adult rather than show the escalating fear that, for example, noise phobic dogs do.
In this week, the puppy is also starting to learn about his social group. He learns to recognise his mother and his littermates, and also to recognise humans as being part of his family too, and this is when he starts the bonding process. This is a good time to begin to introduce all other animals in the household (other fully vaccinated dogs and cats if you have them) and people (including children) who you will want the puppy to look on as part of his family group if they haven’t been around already. This should initially be done quietly, allowing them only to wander around outside the puppy pen.
While all puppies and breeds develop differently and at different speeds, it is far better to introduce new things too early than too late. Perception develops faster than reactions do, and so often they are learning long before we realise they are.
NOTE: Do not introduce small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters etc. You do not want to teach your dog that these are part of his social group and therefore show play behaviours towards them. While your eventually large dog may enjoy playing with your hamster, the hamster is certainly not going to enjoy it! Your puppy instead needs to learn to ignore these animals.