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Most Important Stages in Your Young Puppy’s Life

Bringing a new puppy home is a joyous occasion. You have a young life to mold that will become a valuable family member. Dogs are able to adapt to the busiest or most laid-back households. They find a way to fit in, but you can ensure a much better life for your young puppy if you watch and take steps to intervene at various developmental stages in your young puppy’s life.

Most Important Stages in Your Young Puppy's Life

Puppies go through several distinct stages of development as they grow and mature.

Each of the stages of development brings its own set of physical, mental, and behavioral changes.

Here are the typical stages of puppy development:

Neonatal Stage (0-2 weeks)

This is the newborn stage when puppies are completely dependent on their mother.

They are blind, deaf, and unable to regulate their body temperature.

They spend most of their time sleeping and feeding.

Transitional Stage (2-4 weeks)

Puppies start to open their eyes and ears at around 2 weeks of age, and they begin to explore their surroundings.

They also develop the ability to walk, wag their tails, and bark.

This is a critical period for socialization.

Socialization Stage (3-14 weeks)

This stage is crucial for a puppy’s development. It is a socialization period where they begin to socialize with their littermates.

They become more aware of their environment, start interacting with littermates, and learn important social skills.

Puppies also begin to wean off their mother’s milk and transition to solid food.

Juvenile Stage (3-6 months)

Puppies become more independent and curious during this stage.

They have high energy levels and boundless energy and are highly receptive to training and learning. It is a good time to start basic training.

Teething occurs during this period, leading to a strong urge to chew. You should provide them with plenty of chew toys which will also provide mental stimulation.

Adolescence Stage (6-12 months)

Puppies reach sexual maturity during this stage. This is the age veterinarians recommend spaying and neutering.

During the adolescent period, they may experience hormonal changes that can lead to increased independence, territorial behavior, and testing of boundaries.

Consistent training and socialization are essential during this phase.

Consider enrolling them in a training program such as an obedience class which will aid in the learning good manners.

Young Adult Stage (1-2 years)

By this stage, puppies have reached full physical and sexual maturity.

They have more self-control and are generally calmer than during adolescence.

Training and reinforcement of positive behaviors should continue to shape their adult behavior.

Small white puppy looking straight at camera

Feeding Puppies

Each breed of dog has specific nutritional requirements. It is easy to believe the myth that a dog is a dog so they all can eat the same things.

It is also easy to believe the myth that dogs are like wolves so must eat all meat.

Domesticated dogs have been selectively bred by human beings.

Dogs have slightly adapted intestinal tracts that give them the ability to digest starches that their wolf relatives lack.

Puppies typically require more protein than adult dogs. If feeding kibble, puppy food is preferable over adult dog food until they are a year old.

However, there are dietary concerns for every breed.

For example, large or giant breeds need to have controlled development of their bones to prevent chronic problems from developing later on.

It is critical to get information for your dog from a veterinarian trained in canine nutrition.

Socialization of Young Puppies

After puppies are fully vaccinated, you need to expose your dog to all of the social situations you expect him to encounter in life.

Puppies should learn how to act around babies, toddlers, teens, grandparents, neighbors, and even people in uniforms such as the mailman or meter reader.

They should also know how to treat strangers.

Though critical for larger breeds, chihuahuas are known for aggression toward strangers if not socialized correctly.

Golden retrievers are known for being friendly, but even they can be fearful and antisocial if not properly socialized.

You should begin to socialize with him regularly and in all kinds of environments, he will be exposed to.

Do it gently and over time. Puppy classes are fun and offer great puppy socialization opportunities.

Be consistent and insistent, but never teach using fear tactics. Fear can induce aversion and aggression.

Potty Training Young Puppies

At around 12-16 weeks you should start potty training your puppy. Crate training can assist with potty training.

Do not rub a puppy’s nose in urine or excrement.

A firm “No” when you catch him in the act followed by gently leading him to the proper spot for relieving himself is appropriate.

Hitting, yelling at, or otherwise punishing your puppy for doing a natural act will only make him afraid.

It does not teach him where you want him to go. This takes repetition over time.

As your puppy develops stronger cognitive skills, he will learn the appropriate place to relieve himself.

It will not happen overnight.

Also, expect a few relapses, but be aware that accidents after being fully trained may mean a medical condition from diabetes to a urinary tract infection may be happening.

Most Important Stages in Your Young Puppy's Life

All of the other training you want to add should be done using positive reinforcement methods to get the best and most long-lasting results.

It is your consistency that matters the most. Your puppy wants to be a part of your family and find his place.

Do not leave furry friend to guess how to do it. Instead, show him.

Be observant, do your research, and raise your puppy right.

Small Australian puppy with one brown eye and one blue eye

In conclusion

It’s important to note that these stages are general guidelines, and individual puppies may progress at different rates.

Additionally, larger dog breeds may have slightly longer developmental periods compared to smaller breeds.

Proper care, training, and socialization throughout these stages of life contribute to raising a well-rounded and balanced adult dog.

Debbie P

Saturday 23rd of November 2019

Thanks for the great information. They can be a lot of work yet bring a lot of happiness.

Mary Gardner

Saturday 16th of November 2019

Thanks for sharing this info. Potty training our puppy was definitely and important stage.


Wednesday 10th of January 2018

Thanks for listing these stages, Gold!


Wednesday 29th of March 2017

I had a neighbor that adopted a pup from the shelter and took it back a week later. Have to get the right fit. They take a lot of care. They got it for a young child. Moms didn't like the work included..

Sarah L

Sunday 17th of April 2016

I've never had a puppy. Grew up with older dogs. Puppies are a lot of work.

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