The rate at which a puppy grows to maturity is somewhat dependent on the breed. Some dogs retain a “puppyish” disposition well into their old age, and some youngish dogs are almost cat like in their unflappability. There are, however, some similarities among all breeds.
Here are the typical stages of puppy life during the first 48 weeks.
- Newborn to Three Weeks — Silent senses
For the first three weeks of life, a puppy is almost devoid of senses. Their eyes, ears and nose don’t begin to work properly until the third week. During this period, puppies sleep most of the time and there’s nothing wrong with that. Sleep is vital for a newborn puppy’s development.
- Three to Eight Weeks — Socialising with the siblings
The puppy’s senses awaken. It should be able to walk by the fourth week. The mother begins weaning the pups and starts teaching discipline. The puppy socialises with its siblings and learns bite inhibition through puppy play-biting. The owner or dog carer can begin to introduce solid food in the fourth week. It is vital that the owner or puppy care provider does not separate the puppy from its mother for extended periods of time during the day. The puppy should remain with their litter mates until they are at least seven or eight weeks old, although some experts recommend as long as 12 weeks. This period is crucial for establishing a dog’s identity and ensuring their life-long stability.
- Eight to 12 Weeks — Fear of the new
Physical coordination is refined during this time. A puppy placed in a new home during this period will be apprehensive about almost everything in that home at first. The owner or puppy care provider must attempt to make the puppy’s experiences during this period as positive and comforting as possible because puppies at this stage are hypersensitive to upsetting incidents. Housebreaking can begin at eight weeks and training by nine weeks.
- 12 to 24 Weeks — Chewing everything in sight
The first permanent teeth make their appearance and may seem like a mixed blessing. The puppy will need to be provided with suitable items to gnaw upon and will need to be shown (either ceaselessly or endlessly) the difference between suitable and unsuitable in the realm of gnawable items. The puppy will challenge the owner’s or care provider’s authority during this period. In their natural state, dogs prefer a strong leader. Professional training can help a dog understand what is expected of them and can help an owner curb any wimpy tendencies.
- 24 to 48 Weeks — Teenage doghood
Challenges to the authority of the owner or pet sitter will continue during this span. Repeat the puppy owner’s mantra, which is “No!”. Spaying or neutering curbs a “teenage” dog’s tendency to want to spend lots of quality time with canines of the opposite sex. Actually, what spaying or neutering really does is change a dog’s definition of what spending quality time with canines of the opposite sex really means. Adolescent dogs of all breeds need lots of exercise, not just naturally large breeds.
Raising a mannerly, well adjusted dog is all about staying attuned to his signals and sensitivities and not being afraid to take control and assert authority.
The challenges of caring for your dog don’t end after 48 weeks. Thankfully, on Care.com you can browse a range of local pet care as well as a valuable collection of pet care articles, so you are always prepared to provide the best care possible for that special member of your family.