Bringing home a new puppy can be an exciting time! But along with all the love and excitement also come a lot of new changes as well. Puppies change and grow very rapidly, but there are important stages that you should be aware of so that you can ensure you are offering your new puppy all the support that they need.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the common stages that puppies go through on their journey to adulthood. See what’s in store for you and your pup during those first few months.
2-4 Weeks: Transitional Stage and Weaning
During this stage of their lives, puppies begin to interact with their littermates and their mother. They start to develop their senses and begin to be weaned from their mother at around three weeks, making the transition to solid foods.
3-16 Weeks: Training and Socialization
This period of life is a very crucial time for young puppies. From 4-6 weeks, puppies are heavily influenced by their mother and littermates. This is the period of time where they learn to plan and gain important social skills. Puppies also start developing their vocal senses during this time period and you may notice increased barking or growling as they develop.
This is an important stage to start introducing your puppy to the world as well. Start introducing your young puppy to new things such as people as well as new experiences such as car rides, walks, vacuum cleaners, and more. The more your puppy experiences, the less likely he will be to fear these things as he grows. Training is also important during this timeframe. It is important to note that while training is important, a puppy should not be separated from his mother and litter before he reaches eight weeks, as he is still learning important behaviors from his mother.
This timeframe is also important to start positive reinforcement training, collar introductions, and crate training as well. Housetraining can begin around the 12-16 weeks mark.
8-11 Weeks: First Fear Stage
It is important to note that puppies generally start experiencing what’s known as the “first fear stage” at around eight weeks old.
During this stage, you may find that your once-confident puppy suddenly develops nervousness when around certain objects, unfamiliar places, and new people. This can be a very overwhelming time of life for a new puppy and can often cause a lot of fear, but don’t give up. Recognize that fear is a normal part of your puppy’s development and help him by offering him security and safety. Keep introducing your puppy to new things in a positive way to help him build confidence and overcome his fears.
Your puppy may also experience their second fear stage at intervals between 4 and 18 months. In this stage, he may once again start to become fearful when faced with unfamiliar objects or people –or in some cases, even with familiar objects or people! As with the first phase, it’s important to provide reassurance and plenty of encouragement to help your pup realize that he has nothing to fear.
It is also important to note that while gentle socialization is crucial for a puppy, you should not force him to interact with others. Instead, gentle coaxing and positive reinforcement are key.
It’s also important that you do not start introducing him to other animals until he is fully vaccinated as he can contract deadly diseases such as parvo.
4-6 Months: Establishing Hierarchy
During the ages of 4-6 months, your puppy will start developing their ranking within their own group. This is considered your puppy’s ‘teenage’ years and you may notice some behavioral changes such as rule testing and becoming less eager to please you.
Don’t give up, be consistent with your training and he will grow out of this stage rather quickly. Ideally, your puppy should be housebroken by now as well.
6-12 Months: Adolescent Stages
From 6-12 months your puppy will probably be a rambunctious ball of fur that doesn’t ever seem to slow down. You may also see a second fear stage develop around this age, which usually lasts up to a month. Keep in mind that this is completely normal and it’s only temporary.
Try to pay attention to your puppy’s fears but remain consistent with your training and socializing as well to help them outgrow this fearful stage.
1-2 Years: Social Maturity
During this stage your puppy will continue to mature socially, it is important to keep socializing them and introducing them to new things, other dogs, and people as well as remaining consistent with obedience training.
Housetraining Your Puppy: What You Should Know
When should you start housetraining your puppy? Most experts recommend starting when they are between 12 and 16 weeks. At this stage, your puppy will have more control and will be able to learn to hold it.
If a puppy is older than 12 weeks old when you bring him home, then it may be more difficult to train them as they may be used to eliminating in a cage. If this is the case, you’ll need to reshape their behavior with plenty of positive reinforcement and encouragement.
When housetraining, it’s a good idea to confine your puppy to a defined space, be it a crate or a small room. As they learn that they need to go outside to do their business, then they can be gradually given more freedom.
When housetraining your puppy, try to follow these steps:
- Keep puppy on a regular feeding schedule – Don’t leave food down all the time
- Take puppy outside first thing in the morning, then once every 30 minutes to an hour
- Take them to the same spot each time to do their business
- Be sure to praise them or give them a treat after they do their business
How long does it take to housetrain a puppy?
Generally, it takes 4-6 months for a puppy to be housetrained. But in some cases, it can take up to a year.
While puppyhood can be a confusing time for your puppy to navigate, it’s an important time as well. With patience and care, you’ll be able to help your puppy get off to a great start.
After all, it’s during this crucial time that you lay the foundation for behavior and confidence later on, and with hard work and plenty of care you’ll be able to help ensure that your puppy will transition into a well-rounded, fully-fledged dog: one who’s happy and healthy, and enjoys spending time with others.
All the best in your journey with your new pup!