A new owners guide to puppy stages

The decision to get a puppy is an important one. You have to take a lot into consideration and finally brought your new friend home.

But what if the puppy comes as a result of your dog having an unexpected litter. Not everyone is prepared to take care of brand-new puppies. There are things you need to know as a new puppy owner that is different than when you got your older dog.

Puppies grow at different paces, so the following stages are generalized. Don’t be too worried if your puppy isn’t growing as fast as this information says. As with any pet, if you have concerns take your pet to a veterinarian for an exam.

Stage One – 1 to 3 WeeksDuring the first three weeks your puppy’s eyes will open and he will start to respond to light, sounds, and movement. At this stage, his movement will be limited, but will improve quickly. He will be able to recognize his mother, littermates, and even things left near him.

Stage Two – 3 to 4 WeeksDuring the next two weeks your puppy will go through lots of changes. Your puppy’s senses will become more acute and he will start learning what it means to be a dog. He needs to spend time with his mother to aid in that development. You can handle the puppies during this stage, but don’t take them away from the mother at this time. He should be able to identify you and your family. His ears will be very sensitive right now, so try to avoid loud noises that might scare him.

Stage Three – 4 to 7 weeksDuring weeks four through seven your puppy’s development will really start taking off. His mother will start teaching him what he needs to know to be a dog, along with discipline and basic manners. These lessons are very important for a puppy to learn. During this time the mother will start weaning the puppy, so when that beings you can introduce solid foods to the puppy. Be prepared for him to reject it at first.

You can still handle the puppies, but don’t remove them from the mother’s care for more than 10 minutes a day. They need their mother’s support until they are ready to leave her. A dog removed from his mother too soon can be nervous, have difficulty socializing, and training.

Stage Four – 8 Weeks to 3 MonthsDon’t be surprised if your puppies show signs of being afraid of everything during this stage. This should pass, bringing your playful puppy back. You should start housetraining now along with simple commands and leash training. You can increase the amount of time you spend with your puppies. Human contact is important during this time.

If you plan on giving away some of the puppies, do so after at least 7 weeks. That should give the puppies enough time with their mother to learn the social skills they need to be well-adjusted dogs.

Stage Five – 3 to 4 MonthsYour puppy will start to be more independent, even testing his boundaries with you. Use firm and gentle reinforcement when dealing with your puppy’s challenges. A sharp no will go a long way to reminding your puppy who is in charge. During this time, your puppy will try to play fight with you. This is not the right kind of play for puppies. Even if you win, what the puppy will learn it is okay to fight.

Stage Six – 4 to 6 MonthsDuring this time your puppy will become more independent and test his boundaries with you. His need for your attention might be diminished as he finds where he belongs in the family unit. Watch for him to try to dominate any children living in the house.

Your puppy will start teething during this time, so watch for him to find things in your home to chew on to relieve the pain. You can try freezing dog biscuits to help him through it.

This is the time to start thinking about having your puppies spayed or neutered. They will be starting to show sexual maturity during the later part of this stage.

Stage Seven – 6 to 18 MonthsThis stage is the best for a dog. He is full of young and full of energy, a perfect combination for a dog. He is also still learning. You still need to work with him to keep the skills he’s already learned fresh in his mind. You can also start more advanced training depending on your needs.

Now is also a good time to allow him more interaction with other animals and people. Make sure the environments are non-aggressive so he will feel comfortable and not threatened.

Now your puppy is grown into an adult dog, ready to start his life as a treasured family member. Congratulations, you’ve raised a puppy.