The first year of puppy development happen so quickly that it seems like a blink of an eye! Whether you plan to raise a litter of puppies or even just one pup, it is important that you understand these puppy development stages and what they mean to your growing dog.
Birth to 3 Weeks
Newborn puppies can neither see nor hear, they find their way around by feel, instinct and smell. During this time, they will and should stay close to their litter mates and mother.
Studies have shown that mild stress or mild stimuli during this development stage will actually result in stronger or even smarter dogs.
By the end of third week, your puppy's eyes and ears will start to 'open' and they will be a little more 'mobile'. Crawling around the whelping box and interacting with mom, litter mates and objects you have placed inside.
3 Weeks to a Month
By week 3 or 4, puppies start recognizing things outside of their confinement. Mild stimuli and socialization should persist, taking full advantages of their sharpen senses.
Avoid exposing puppies to loud noises and massive environment changes. It is probably not a good idea to move the whelping box during this stage of puppy development.
Puppies will began to recognize you as a part of their extended family and also learn valuable lessons on how to behave like a dog from their siblings.
This is especially important to note if you already have another dog in your household. Removing new puppies too early from their litter mates would result in them not knowing how to get along with other canine later in their life...ever again.
4 - 7 Weeks
Socialization begins full-swing at this point of puppy development and you will want to allow puppies plenty of time to interact with litter mates.
Lessons from the previous stages should intensify, pups will roll around, play fight and teach each other when enough is enough! For instance, pups will bite and chew until a loud yelp communicates that playtime has gotten too rough.
Spend time having puppies get used to being handled at this age, perhaps even taking them for a car ride individually or in pairs.
Mental development should be stimulated through a variety of simple games and toys. Exposing them to a variety of environment, people and object is a good idea. Don't overwhelm them with too much activity thou,3 to 4 new experience per day should suffice.
An extremely crucial puppy development stage, puppies might develop 'fearful period' during this time. Things that never used to bother them may cause intense reactions in your pups.
Harsh discipline, which is never recommended, could result in unwanted fear imprintment for the rest of their life.
The 8th week is the best time for puppies to leave their pack and re-homed. This will be the idea time to adopt your new puppy
Simple commands and potty training should be introduce, taking advantage of their improve motor skills and brain development. Sit, stay, come and leash training are all examples of training you can begin at this stage. I cant stress this enough but they need positive and regular contact with humans if they are to continue to develop into mature and well behaved dogs.
4 Months onward..
If you have ever dealt with a two year old human baby, you will have a great understanding of what is in store from puppies at this stage. This is a time when independence begins to assert itself; they may ignore you, which can be very frustrating to say the least. Your patience will be sorely tested at this point.
Young pups in this stage of puppy development might growl or nip at you, behaviors that should never be left 'unmanaged', even in play. Say 'No' or 'No Biting' using a loud and firm tone to indicate that biting or any unwanted behavior will not get them into your good books.
Louder with a firm tone but never yell at the little ones. Yelling in whatever words from you equals barking to them! And its never pleasant to be bark at.
6 Months onward..
The 'teen' stage of puppy development. You may notice your little ones attempting to assert dominance. Wild dogs and their domestic counterparts operate on a pack mentality and within the pack; there is an' alpha dog' who rule the roost. As your pup enters this young adult stage, he or she will try to determine if they fit the bill.
Young children and other smaller pets are common targets for dominance testing. If you began seeing signs of this type of behavior, it is important you continue to stand firm and even use your leash more often.
This is a critical training period; if you let them get by with disobedience, things will only get decidedly worse. In fact, your pet could be in danger as he or she might run away from you in public or dart into traffic.
Transitioning from a 'teen' frame of mind into adulthood. This can be a fun time for you and your pet as he is moderately well adjusted but still full of vinegar!
Most dog breeds reach full adult size after a year, but puppy development continues and they are still learning. Character molding and behavior 'accidents' WILL still happen. Guidance and patience(with lots of love)are still needed.
They will not be fully mature until around two years of age, but a well trained, well socialize dog of your dreams is worth the effort and definitely do-able!