The first six weeks
For the first two weeks of a puppy's life, he is essentially blind and deaf and seeks the
nourishment and warmth he needs from his mother. At about three weeks of age, he will
begin wagging his tail, playing with his littermates and noticing people around him. Your
puppy will acquire almost all of his adult sensory, motor and learning abilities from his
third week until his twelfth or fourteenth week.
Six to twelve weeks
Dogs are pack animals. They look for one leader in their pack and are very loyal to
serving and protecting their pack. Since dogs usually determine who their leader will be
at six to eight weeks - this is the ideal time to bring home your puppy.
Although bringing your puppy home can be a fun,
exciting, wonderful time for you and your family, it can be stressful for your puppy. Here
are some suggestions that can ease the transition for your dog.
- Decide on a name and consistently call your puppy
by that name.
- Plan your puppy's homecoming at the start of a
weekend or some other time that you will be able to stay with it for a day or two to help
orient your puppy to its new environment.
- Never disturb a sleeping puppy. There will be
plenty of time to play when it wakes - well rested and eager for your attention.
- Keep your puppy in your sight at all times. It is
important to establish your household rules quickly by guiding your puppy to the correct
Three to six months
Your little puppy is starting to feel pretty comfortable with his new family and he's busy
trying to figure out where he fits. He's constantly exploring and testing -his environment
Now is the time you need to reinforce your
status as the leader - teaching your puppy the rules of your family. It is a good time to
enroll your puppy in a puppy class which teaches him how to socialize with other dogs, and
helps curb negative behavior before it becomes a problem. Your veterinarian, breeder or
neighbors and friends will be able to provide puppy class referrals for classes in your
Six months to one year
While different breeds of dogs mature at different rates, all puppies hit adolescence
sooner or later. For smaller breeds adolescence can start as early as six months, larger
breeds may not enter this phase until nine or ten months of age. This is a period of
behavioral adjustment - much like the teenage years are for people - and it can be
difficult for both puppies and owners.
Male puppies may begin "marking their
territory" by lifting their leg to urinate on almost anything. Puppies may also
exhibit independent streaks, attempt to mount during play, and body slam themselves into
other animals or people in an attempt to show others who they think is the boss. The good
news is that you will probably be advised by your veterinarian to spay or neuter your
puppy prior to this time. Spaying or neutering will help tone down you puppy's antics.
The second year
Many dogs act like puppies for most of their adult lives. Even as they continue to age and
mature, their energy and affection stay high. Once a puppy is physically mature, inside
and out, he is considered an adult. The amount of time it will take your puppy to reach
adulthood will vary, depending on his breed. Many larger breeds take up to two years to
reach adulthood. Consult your vet to find out when your puppy is "officially" an
Once your puppy has proven he's ready, you can
begin expanding his privileges - letting him roam your house at free will. But remember,
even the best mannered puppy may get into mischief if he's lonely or bored. Even as your
puppy enjoys more freedom, keep in mind he still needs his own space. Make sure your puppy
continues to have access to its crate when it needs a retreat, even into adulthood.