I can't emphasize the importance of the first 8 weeks enough. The obvious reason is the health benefit from being with mama. But beyond nursing, there's the social aspect. What I do for the first 8 weeks lays the foundation for the rest of the pups life socially. I take this responsibility very seriously. Pups learn quickly what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in their little pack instinctively. Part of my job as a breeder is to provide them a solid foundation emotionally to thrive in their human pack on their own. Instinct drives them to stay alive the first two weeks. They can't see or hear until about 2 weeks. They rely on smell and instinct to find mama and eat. Mama cleans them to stimulate potty and she cleans up their poop. Mama keeps the 'den' nice and clean by instinct. Both mom and pups are driven by instinct for the first couple of weeks. It's super important that I handle the pups as much as possible. I want them to be acclimated to someone touching them all over from the get-go. Oftentimes I take phone calls while sitting with them so they can hear different voices and I keep a radio playing in the background. I'm constantly in there with them doing something. At about 5 weeks I set up a play pen in my living room away from their 'den'. The playpen will have a crate, a potty turf, food & water bowls and toys. I bring 2 pups at a time into the playpen. I want them to experience the sights and sounds of a regular household. The TV, doors opening and closing, the vacuum, teenagers shouting from their bedrooms, the neighbors dog barking, car horns, the doorbell etc. This is vitally important to their social development. It also lays the groundwork for crate training and potty training. I also introduce the collar at this time. A tiny breakaway collar is perfect. Each pup gets a couple of hours a day in the playpen. My goal is to lay the foundation for an emotionally balanced pup, well prepared for life with his new family. I believe these early life experiences is a vital contribution to their development and last a lifetime. At or around 6 weeks I introduce them to the bathtub and blow dryer. Very tepid water and very low setting on the dryer. I want them to experience the feel of the water and the sound of the dryer. I move slowly and hold them gently yet firmly so they can relax and not be fearful. I encourage as many visits as possible from the new families during this 8 weeks. I also enlist friends and family as puppy cuddlers. The sights and sounds of a living room full of people with puppies running around, chasing balls, carrying their toys, interacting with each other, using the potty turf all contribute to a balanced pup. I spend many hours preparing my pups for life in their new homes. I firmly believe what I do here in these 8 weeks is irreplaceable. I obviously take pride in my puppies confirmation and bloodlines with genetic testing, dna profiling and the like. But my greatest achievement is developing a puppy's mind. Aussies are one of the most intelligent and most athletic breeds on the planet. They can literally do and learn anything. But it requires a healthy, well-balanced, thoughtfully designed puppy-hood. I am their pack leader and they depend on me to provide just that. They need to be ready and able to bond with their humans, respect their humans and communicate with their humans. I always encourage puppy classes for obedience and basic manners with their new families. Educate yourself. Learn how to be the alpha. Learn how dogs give and receive information. From there, the sky is the limit with an aussie.