Written by 5:30 pm Behavior & Training

Puppy development stages

Puppyhood is just the beginning! Learn about the different developmental stages dogs go through and…
Stages of growth puppy yorkshire terrier
Stages of growth puppy Yorkshire terrier up to 2 months

A dog’s life is a truly wonderful thing! From the first wagging tail and sloppy kisses to a play-filled puppyhood, a dog’s life is full of joy. But, as your new pup begins to grow up, you may start noticing some less-than-wonderful habits you didn’t expect from such a chubby little bundle of fur. New owners often don’t realize that every puppy has some old habits dying hard as they go through those awkward adolescent years. Once those years are over, however, your adult dog will slowly but steadily become the mature canine companion you always dreamed of having. So, without further ado, here are the canine developmental stages to look out for on your pup’s journey from puppyhood to adulthood.

Puppy Development Stage 1: The Imprint Period (0 – 3 Weeks)

The word “imprinting” may sound intimidating, but this critical puppy developmental stage occurs when a puppy learns who his or her parents and littermates are. Puppies learn to recognize their mothers’ scents during this time, but they also develop a bond with the humans around them as well. This is why you may notice that puppies with the same mother can have very different personalities—the human in the equation makes all the difference!

During those first few weeks, it is crucial for owners to socialize their new pups as much as possible. As any dog owner knows, one of the most difficult things about being a parent is knowing how much freedom to give your little ones before they become over-stimulated and overwhelmed by the world around them. Even though puppies have four tiny legs instead of two legs plus a stroller, the same rule applies: socialization is a gradual process. Your pup should gradually become comfortable with new people and places throughout his or her first few weeks to make the transition from babyhood to puppyhood as pleasant as possible.

Puppy Development Stage 2: The Transitional Period (3 – 4 Weeks)

The second developmental stage of puppyhood is known as the transitional period because it involves some major changes in your dog’s life. During these few weeks, your pup will lose his or her baby teeth and grow adult ones. At this time, he or she may also begin nibbling on you during playtime—don’t be surprised if your new best friend suddenly has very sharp little teeth!

Your pup is also still learning how to potty outside, so it’s important during this stage to take him or her out frequently and reward/correct your pup for going at the right times. This will make it much easier when your pup starts to develop bladder control later on (when he or she learns that going inside makes you very sad). Most puppies begin sleeping through the night during this time as well, which offers tired owners a little more shut-eye before work in the morning.

Puppy Development Stage 3: The Juvenile Period (5 – 12 Weeks)

During those first few months of life, your puppy went from being completely dependent on you to become a complete whirlwind of energy. During this stage, your pup is still very much a baby—he or she may start to play with other dogs and growl at strangers, but he or she will always come back to you for love and affection. It’s important during this time to socialize your puppy as much as possible so he or she can learn how to interact appropriately with different people and other pets.

This is also the developmental stage where many behaviour problems begin. If your pup gets into the garbage today, he or she may decide that it’s just more fun tomorrow! Many trainers recommend that owners take their pups out on “doggie dates” to new places during this period so they can get used to being around other dogs, humans, and places without reacting in an unwanted manner. This will help your pup become a more well-adjusted member of society when he or she grows up!

Puppy Development Stage 4: The Adolescent Period (13+ Weeks)

By the time most pups reach this developmental stage, they are officially teenagers. During this period, your dog may begin to challenge you for alpha status by being aggressive with other dogs or by being disobedient with commands. This is also when many owners decide that their new puppy has turned into a “monster” and give up—but don’t be tempted to skip ahead to the adult stages of training just yet! Many behaviour problems are actually caused by misunderstandings between owners and their pets during this period, and owners who wait until their dog is an adult to train him or her may face serious behaviour problems that will be much harder to overcome. Trainers recommend enrolling dogs in a training class during this period so that pups can learn how to behave appropriately in all kinds of environments with many different people without losing the affection of their owners.

The most important thing for puppy parents to remember when they are raising their new bundles of fur is this: treat your pup like a baby, not a toy. While it’s okay to play rough with dogs sometimes (especially if you play together with other dogs), puppies need love, affection, and lots of breaks throughout the day just like human babies do— though they may act tough when they’re in the company of other canines, puppies are still young and impressionable and will learn bad habits if you don’t do your part to teach them right from wrong.

When raising a puppy, it’s important that you say “no” firmly when they bite or chew on people or things they shouldn’t—if not, your dog might develop more serious behaviour problems later on. Even though pups look like miniature adults with paws instead of hands, they actually have very different requirements than adult dogs do because of their size and age—so remember to always take care of your baby!

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