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  • Writer's pictureEllie

National Puppy Day

National Puppy Day dog human bond science naturally bonding mammals dogs nursing
Illustration by Wes Davies for Babies Nurse (2018, Science Naturally)

Since the domestication of the dog, people have been drawn to these selfless, loving animals. National Puppy Day falls on March 23rd every year and it is only fitting that we take this time get to know a little bit more about the animals that love us unconditionally everyday!

Mother and Puppy Bond

Puppies and their mothers have a bond straight from birth, just like humans! As each little puppy comes into the world, its mother carefully tends to its first needs including licking and cleaning her newborn to stimulate breathing and encourage nursing.

The care and protectiveness that a mother shows for her pups is strong. She whines to alert her humans if she’s separated from her puppies, and will will put herself between her puppies and danger if sensed.

National Puppy Day dog human bond science naturally bonding mammals dogs nursing
Illustration by Jim Fox for Babies Nurse (2018, Science Naturally)

Puppies grow up quickly. At 3 to 4 weeks of age they start to transition from their mother's milk onto solid foods, a process known as weaning. Nursing is an important part of a puppy's health and development. Mother's milk provides the nutrition and antibodies to help a puppy grow up to be big and strong!

A mother dog nuzzles her pups, placing her face close by or lying very still when one of her little ones wiggles into the crook of her neck for a nap. As her offspring grow, she will still seek out their company, and it isn’t unusual to find a mother dog and her weaned puppies still snuggling together.

Human and Canine Bonding

The evolution of the dog can be traced back millions of years. The transition of some wolves into dogs probably began upwards of 100,000 years ago, but the domesticated dog likely dates back anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 years. The human-canine bond has blossomed and strengthened over time, and only continues to grow stronger and stronger everyday!

National Puppy Day dog human bond science naturally bonding mammals dogs nursing
Illustration by Wesley Davies for Babies Nurse (2018, Science Naturally)

The bond that we share with these four legged animals can be as strong as the connection we share with other humans, sometimes even stronger.

There are also service dogs who are trained to help humans in specific ways. For example, seeing-eye dogs are trained to help visually impaired people find their way around and alert them to danger.

Did you know dogs can also be trained to alert humans to certain medical conditions, like asthma, heart conditions, strokes, diabetes, epilepsy, and seizures? These dogs are specifically trained to alert their owner about an impending medical condition that the person may not even be aware is happening! In this way, dogs can even save our lives.

There are also dogs who are trained to help people with anxiety and other mental health conditions (known as Emotional Support Dogs), and Therapy Dogs who bring comfort and joy to those who are ill or living under poor conditions, such as those who have been affected by a natural disaster.

Playful Puppy Points

Here are some fun facts you may not know about puppies!

National Puppy Day dog human bond science naturally bonding mammals dogs nursing
  • Puppies are born blind and deaf: Puppies actually can’t see or hear until they’re almost two weeks old — they don’t even open their eyes before then!

  • They spend 15–20 hours a day sleeping: We all know that dogs spend a majority of the day sleeping and that has not changed ever since they were puppies.

  • Puppies are born without teeth: Even though puppies are known to chew everything in their wake, they are toothless until they are 4 weeks old.

  • The word "Puppy" has French roots: The word puppy comes from poupeé, a French word meaning doll or toy.

  • The litter size depends on the breed: smaller breeds tend to have smaller litters, while bigger dogs give birth to more puppies.

  • Dalmatians puppies are born WITHOUT spots: You may remember this from 101 Dalmatians, but Dalmatians puppies are born white and spot-less. The markings usually begin to show up after four weeks.

For dog owners: what are some of the ways your dog helps you? Let us know in the comments!

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Francis Clark
Francis Clark
Jun 03

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Manuel Murphy
Manuel Murphy
May 22

National Puppy Day is a very special day for puppies, very adorable and intelligent animals. doodle baseball

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