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Understanding the Stages of Puppy Growth

0-2 Weeks: The Neonatal Period

During the first couple weeks of a puppy’s life, he will spend a lot of time learning basic coordination and social skills. Most newborn puppies spend the majority of the day eating and sleeping, staying very close to their mother and their litter mates. Much of their development at this time will be influenced by their mother and their siblings.

2-4 Weeks: The Development Period

The next two weeks of a puppy’s life is filled with major steps in development. Their eyes open, they learn how to stand, they begin to walk around on their own, and their teeth start coming in. Many dogs discover their voices at this stage and begin to bark or howl. By the end of the first month, most dogs are able to use the bathroom on their own, and they are starting to explore their surroundings more and more.

4-12 Weeks: The Socialization Period

This is the stage in puppy development when most new puppy owners adopt their little ones. Most puppies will be weaned from their mothers by about 7 weeks of age and ready to go out to new families. The socialization period is a crucial time in a puppy’s development. It determines how they will interact with people, their environment, and other pets in the future based on the amount of experienced they are exposed to.

This is a time when you can start house training your puppy, though most puppies are not fully house trained until 4-6 months of age. Within this stage may be a fear stage, followed by a confidence stage. Your pup will go from being scared of everything to being completely carefree. The more you expose him or her to new behaviors, the more the confidence will start to take over in your dog’s personality.

Be mindful of your pup’s immune system during this time. After your dog is weaned from his mother’s milk, he will no longer have her immune-boosters raging through his system. That’s why you need to take your dog in to get regular shots, to keep his immune system as strong as possible. Your dog will need to continue with shots every 3 weeks until he has had two sets after 12 weeks of age.

3-6 Months: The Ranking Period

This is the time in your dog’s life where he learns his ranking against other dogs and people as well. With proper training, this is when your dog will learn to respect you as his owner. The ranking stage is also the time when your puppy will create the most chewing issues, so be mindful of that when leaving your pup alone. By the end of this life period, your dog should be house trained and well socialized.

6+ Months: The Adolescent Period

Your dog will remain a “puppy” up until he is two years old. Throughout this year and a half timespan, your dog will still be easy to train, willing to learn, playful, and curious about the world around him. Enjoy the developments that come at each stage of your puppy’s life, and you will grow to adore this new member of your family.

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