Your New Puppy- The Different Stages of Growing Up

What are the 5 stages of puppy growth? Learning about all the different puppy stages and what to expect during each one can help you enjoy the puppy years

Just like children, dogs go through several “puppy stages” while growing up. Caesar Milian describes 5 basic puppy development stages that every dog owner should know. If your “puppy” is over 18 months of age, they will already be in their final stage.

The 5 puppy stages are:

1. Neonatal

The first 2 weeks of a puppy’s life are considered the neonatal stage. This is a time when the puppy is actually still developing and doesn’t even have its sense of sight or hearing yet. While this formative stage seems trivial, it is when the:

  • Mother has the greatest influence.
  • Basic social skills are learned.
  • Coordination starts to develop.
  • The “packs” ranking order is established.

Many people view this as the puppy’s “eating stage,” which will be their main activity for the first two weeks. A ferocious appetite will have a puppy eating about every 2 hours during this time.

2. Transitional Period

transitional puppy phase

Self-discovery is a fun time for a puppy

During weeks 2 to 4, a puppy enters into the transitional period of growth. This is a fun period because he or she is able to see and hear.

This is literally a whole new world for puppies and will be when dogs first learns to:

  • Walk on their own.
  • Bark.
  • Start wagging their tails.

Teeth will also begin to grow, allowing your pup to be a little fiercer. At the end of this stage, a dog will start going to the bathroom normally and be able to move into the next stage: socialization.

3. Socialization

As a dog lover, this is the best time for any puppy. This is when the true innocence of a dog is still seen, yet it is time to start socializing the dog with other animals and people. This occurs at age: 4 – 12 weeks.

Interaction is the most important part of this stage.

You want to have the puppy meet as many strangers as possible and remain with his pack for at least 8 weeks of his life. Being with his natural pack will allow him to learn how to socialize with other canines and learn to art of “dog play.”

Right near week 7, you’ll want to start house-training. For any pet parent, this is of the utmost importance and will keep your home smelling fresher in the process. Fearless at first, dogs start to recognize fear during months 8 to 10 and will need to be encouraged to overcome these fears.

Remember to socialize your pet as much as possible during these formative weeks to ensure they are as social as possible. Both human and littermate interaction is recommended.

Learning social skills is an important part of the puppies education.

Learning social skills through play is an important part of a puppies education.

4. Ranking

If you have a litter of puppies, you will notice that things seem to change between the months of 3 and 6. These are the stages of puppy growth that take a lot of patience on part of the owner. During this time, your pet is going to be influenced by those around them.

People and dogs will have an influence.

Dominance and submission occur at this point. You will also notice that fear is introduced (around 4 months) and will be part of the submission process. As your pet’s teeth come in, teething will occur, which is the perfect time to buy as many chew toys as possible – or, take a risk of your furniture being chewed to pieces.

5. Adolescence

The end of puppy behavior stages lasts from 6 months to 18 months. This is when the world is starting to transition from new and exciting into a pack order. Dog packs are very important, and you will also be part of the pack. Ideally, you will be pack leader. Dogs and humans will be part of the pack, and to be leader, you must show your dominance.

This is a very trying time as your pet will go through stages of disobedience and may even exhibit his or her dominance over you. This is what happens in a pack, and you want to demonstrate your dominance to remain the leader. This does not mean punishing the animal, but demonstrating that you are the leader.

Adolescence is the time when you will likely chase your puppy more than once as he tests boundaries.

Adolescence is the time when you will likely chase your puppy more than once as he tests boundaries- of both his yard & your patience!

Following this puppy stage, the animal’s behavior will start to settle down somewhat. While not immediate, you will notice that your dog knows the pack order and that they have stopped the struggle of dominance.

The one exception is when a new dog enters the pack. Dogs will always fight amongst themselves trying to demonstrate their dominance to other dogs. This is a natural occurrence that will happen with all dog breeds. As the leader, you may also have your position in the pack at jeopardy.

Now that the puppy stages are behind you, your animal’s personality will shine. Not only will they be happier, but they will need exercise and play time as they transition into being a part of the family.

VIDEO: Developmental Stages of Puppy Behavior

This is such a fun video, we just had to include it on the “Growing Up Puppy” page. It’s basically a montage of puppies running about to music. AND the second half includes our theme song: Who Let the Dogs Out!”

Source: YouTube/Mark Fischer

Music Credits:
Teddybears – Cobrastyle
Baha Men – Who Let the dogs out

Since it’s a little hard to read while you are watching these adorable pups, we’ve summarized the key points here:

0-7 Weeks: It’s all about Socialization

  • Learning Interactions & Confidence with other Dogs
  • Bite Inhibition (Did you see that puppy go for the cord?)
  • Appropriate Submissive & Attention-Soliciting Behavior
  • Attention-Receptive behavior

7-8 Weeks: People Training

  • Forming Strong Bonds with People
  • Time to Learn Manners

8-10 Weeks: The Fear Period

  • Strong Impressions are made at this age
  • Discovering the World, Give them positive reinforcement

6-12 Months: Reaching Sexual Maturity

  • Needs Lots of Stimulation, Companionship & Activity
  • Boredom & Inactivity Tolerance is Low
dew246907 - December 21, 2013


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