Welcoming a new puppy into your family can be incredibly exciting and rewarding.
But while most people think about all the adorable pictures and snuggles they’ll be getting, very few think about the development and training you’ll need to help your furry friend with.
In this guide, you’ll find a little more information about each stage of your puppy’s life, so that you can help him or her grow into a fun-loving, caring pup.
Development stages for puppies
The stages of development for a puppy are typically broken into weeks. You’ll likely notice your puppy grow every few weeks, though if you have bought or adopted your puppy from a breeder or a rescue home, the first few stages will occur before they’re in their new home.
While your fur baby is still a newborn, they’ll be heavily dependent on their mother, which is why ensuring they stay with their mother for as long as possible before being rehomed is so important.
When first born, puppies cannot actually see or hear; everything is learned through touch and taste.
The mother will be in charge of feeding and cleaning her babies while they squeak, yelp, and get used to the scents around them. If your own dog has had puppies and you intend to keep them, this period is perfect for helping them get used to your own personal smell.
Don’t expect your puppy to be too active or playful just yet—they’ll have lots of sleep to catch up on!
After a couple of weeks, you might sneak a glimpse of those adorable puppy eyes. In this transitional phase, a pooch’s eyes will begin to open and their hearing will develop. They’ll also start taking a few steps.
Their teeth will begin to form, meaning they can move onto solid food rather than just relying solely on their mother. In this phase, it’s a good idea to show them where to relieve themselves and to teach them to respond when called. That way, they’ll learn where they can roam, and how your voice sounds.
At 6 or 8 weeks, puppies are often ready to be rehomed with their forever family, though it’s recommended to leave it till eight weeks to be sure.
Just before heading to their new home, you can begin puppy training and potty training. In these weeks, the puppies can also be weaned off their mother’s milk, and they will depend more on solid food.
If you are breeding dogs, and want to ensure you are training them properly before rehoming them, you might want to enroll in The Dog Wizard training franchise. They’ll not only show you how to train your own puppies but can also give you the opportunity to diversify and host your own training business.
At 2 months, specialists call this the “fear stage” as this is where pets can develop fear if triggered. Puppies should be handled with care and given plenty of positive attention. It’s also good to start positive reinforcements for good behavior. All of this will help prevent anxiety from developing, as well as teach them right from wrong.
In a similar way to human babies, soft, gentle voices and cooing can help to soothe your puppy and promote internal feelings of security for them.
After all the positivity and gentleness, your puppy should have finished developing their initial sense of fear and will be bursting with energy. Now, after the 3 months, your puppy will be ready to explore with a keen curiosity for just about everything. This is when it’s also a good idea to start putting valuable items away. Yep, this is the chewing phase—where nothing is safe.
To help them develop strong adult teeth, you’ll need plenty of chew toys around for them to play with.
This period can be quite stressful for human parents. Dogs will be ready to test boundaries and utilize their energy—even if you have had enough for one day. It’s here where creating a regular training schedule can be beneficial for both you and your pet. Just remember to keep a calm tone of voice and avoid telling them off when it doesn’t go quite to plan.
In terms of neutering, it’s best to have puppies neutered at the 6-month mark to prevent hormonal fluctuations in later life that can develop into behavioral problems.
As your puppy gets older, the development stages become longer—the next of which will bring them to around a year and a half (don’t forget to take cute Instagram photos with a birthday party hat!).
If you’ve stuck to a good training schedule up until this point, there shouldn’t be much of a struggle through the next phase. Puppies become hugely independent at this point, which means when taking them for a walk, and you’ll need a tight or short leash. This will be integral for training them to stay by your side on walks in the future.
During this year, there’s also another opportunity for fear to develop—especially while they’re exploring and depending on their own instincts more. Providing consistency in their routine will give them all they need to become mature, house-trained, energetic family pets.
18 months and onwards
Year 1-2 is still the puppy phase and can determine how they develop into adulthood. During this time, keep doing what you’re doing and ensure your dog has plenty of time to socialize with other people and dogs. Your dog’s personality will become much easier to see in this period.
Bonding is incredibly important (and appreciated) in this phase. It will be a learning curve for you, too, as you’ll be able to see what your furry friend enjoys, and what they’re not so keen on.
So, this is a brief overview of the first 2 years of your new life with your pooch. Caring for your pet and helping him develop into a healthy adult is similar to the way we care for human babies. Creating a routine and providing a positive home will give them the best start to a happy and healthy life.