Every puppy goes through several development stages. Each stage defines a period in their physical and mental development and has a specific function in ensuring that your puppy reaches adulthood. In this article we will first have a look at the specific development stages that your puppy goes through and then we will discuss them in a little more detail, including a look at the breeder and owner involvement in the different stages.
The Puppy Development Stages
0 -14 days
When your puppy is born she will be able to suckle and crawl. She will be sleeping a lot at this stage. At around day 10 -14 the eyes will start to open.
14 – 21 days
The puppies senses are developing and the teeth will start to cut through the gums. The bitch is still the most important influence for your puppy.
3 – 5 weeks
Your puppy will start playing with his littermates and starts to going to the toilet on her own. She learns to function within a pack.
5 – 8 weeks
Weaning begins. play with littermates get rougher. At around 7 weeks your puppy will start bonding with humans.
8 – 12 weeks
Your puppy will start to explore her environment.
3 – 6 months
Your puppy will start teething and become a little more independent in her explorations during this period.
6 – 12 months
The teething stage continues with the new adult teeth settling in the jaw. Your puppy will reach sexual maturity and start displaying territorial behaviour.
12 – 18 months +
Your puppy will reach maturity during this period.
Let’s have a look at each of the development stages in a little more detail.
As a newborn your puppy will be suckling and sleeping a lot. Mum will be licking the puppies to keep them clean and also to stimulate them to go toilet, your puppy is completely reliant on the bitch to provide for her every need. Minimal breeder interaction is needed, the breeder will be monitoring weights and health of the puppies.
The breeder will now start to handle to puppies daily and introduce new experiences and toys to the puppies. The pup needs his mum around for security and discipline.
As you can see from the above table the socialisation period is divided into 3 subsections, each of these sections have their own specific development stage. The first stage at 3 to 5 weeks will see the breeder dividing the puppy room into clear sleeping and playing areas. In addition the breeder will increase the handling of the puppies and start to initiate play with them. More toys are provided.
The second socialisation stage at 5 to 8 weeks is all about weaning the puppies onto their new food. Also during this period the breeder will invite potential new owners to come and view the litter and arrange puppy parties with other knowledgeable breeders to get the puppies used to different people. Up to now the only humans your puppy is likely to have seen is the breeder and her family.
At 7 to 8 weeks the puppies will leave the nest and start their new life with their human family. During weeks 7 and 8 the puppies start to really interact with humans and as a result this period is the ideal period to take your puppy home. As soon as your puppy is home introduce her to other family members and pets. (We will have a look at how best to introduce your puppy to your home and other pets in a separate article). It is always a good idea to initially confine your puppy to one or two rooms until she gets used to her new surroundings.
The third socialisation period at 8 to 12 weeks is the ideal time to start socializing your puppy. This means that she needs to meet as many different people, animals and come across different situations as possible. It is vitally important that these encounters are positive experiences for your puppy. As soon as your puppy has finished her vaccinations it will be time to take your puppy to a puppy course. Starting your puppy training early will help prevent behavioural problems in later life.
This period sees your puppy change her puppy teeth to her adult teeth, and you will need to provide plenty of safe chewing toys. As well as attending a good puppy training course it is very important that your puppy learns her manners during his period. Of course a good puppy class will be a great help during this time.
This is probably the most challenging time for puppy owners as well as the puppy going through yet another teething stage, this time the new adult teeth are settling into the jaw. Your puppy will reach sexual maturity which means that she will be more eager to explore her environment and also she will be showing greater independence from you and other members of your family. This means that your puppy will start to rely less on you for guidance and try and do her own thing. It is important that you stick to your rules and keep up the training of your puppy during this period to make the transition to adulthood easier on both of you
This period sees your puppy mature and become an adult dog. Now it is time to enjoy your time with your dog, all the hard work should now be behind you and you should have a well socialised canine citizen.