The Stages of Puppy Development

Puppies are generally thought to become dogs at around 1 year old. This varies between breeds.  Small dogs mature at around 9 months while large dogs may not be fully mature until 15 months. Puppies grow and mature quickly, and their needs are different at every stage.

Stage 1: 0-2 weeks

For the first few weeks of a puppy's life, he spends almost all his time sleeping. He wakes to be fed and then go straight back to sleep. All ofhis energy goes into growing. He can double his weight in the first week. The puppy depends on his mother and siblings for warmth and they huddle together in the nest.

 At birth, the puppy’s eyes and ears are sealed. Puppies have limited capacity for movement.

Stage 2: 2-4 weeks

Between 2 and 4 weeks, development is rapid. The puppy will open his eyes, start to interact with his siblings, and take notice of his surroundings. His baby teeth start to emerge, and his sense of smell and hearing begin to develop. He will start to walk, bark and wag his tail.

His mother will start to wean him, and you can begin to offer him small amounts of soft food.

Stage 3: 4-11 weeks

At this stage, the puppy will be growing and maturing quickly. His mother will start to teach him correct doggy behavior. His character starts to develop and things he learns now will stay with him forever.

Many puppies go through a fearful stage. Things they used to be OK with now scare them. You should not introduce them to too many new things at once.

During this period, they can have their first vaccinations and worming. Avoid contact with other dogs until this has been completed.

You can now start to train your puppy and teach him who is boss. He will be doing quite a lot of biting and this can be quite painful for you. Gently direct his biting away from you to something more suitable. You can introduce him to a collar and lead.

Related Article: Teach Your Puppy To Stop Biting

Separate him from his mother for short periods. The length of separation can be slowly increased. This will make it easier for him to cope when the time comes for final separation.

Stage 4: 12-17 weeks

Your puppy is now a long way from being the helpless creature he was just a few weeks earlier. His confidence will be growing, so it is important he is taught the correct behavior. This can be a confusing period for him so you should be patient and persistent.

He will need to be taught firm guidelines and given lots of love during this stage.

You can now start to socialize him. If he has had his vaccinations, take him to as many places as you can. Introduce him to new experiences, other people and other dogs.

At this stage of his life, he is easier to train than he will be later. Things he learns now will stay with him forever. On the other hand, his concentration will wander.

He is old enough to attend obedience classes if needed.

You should remain calm during training periods, so he doesn’t become over-anxious.

Stage 5: 17-40 weeks

At this point, you should continue the socialization and training you have already started. He will be more inclined to test your limits. You should continue to be patient, and firmly and gently teach him what he can or cannot do.

He should be neutered (or spayed in the case of a female) before he is 6 months old.

By the end of this period he should have lost his baby teeth and have a full set of adult teeth.

Stage 6: 40-52 weeks

During this period there will start to be much more difference between small and large breeds.

Small breeds will become fully mature, but large breeds will still have some way to go.

At this stage continue with the training you have been giving him.

Puppies learn gradually by repetition.

They will develop sexually and start to exhibit sexual behavior at this stage.

You puppy is now a dog (a few more months for large breeds) and is ready to be a true companion for many years.