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Puppies grow so fast, it’s hard to notices the stages they go through. A puppy’s life stages may only be weeks apart, but if you pay close attention, you will notice how much their growth and development can change rapidly.
Puppy Life Stages
Newbie (0-2 weeks)
At birth, puppies are only able to touch and taste. Blind and deaf, they squirm around with their littermates, completely dependent on their mother. All a puppy does at this stage is sleep and eat – they will need to eat every two hours!
Puppies at this age still don’t have the ability to regulate their body temperature and will rely on mom and siblings for warmth.
Big Changes (2-4 weeks)
During week 2, your puppy’s eyes will finally open. This puppy life stage will show the quick development of sight, sense of smell, hearing, and even the ability to walk – though not very well.
By week 4, a puppy will have grown in some teeth, and they will already be crying for mom.
Social Development (4-8 weeks)
Around five weeks old, a puppy will begin to show more independence – playing with people and rough housing with siblings. During this period, it’s time to be introduced to people. That being said, it is extremely important for a puppy to stay with their mother and littermates until a least eight weeks old (some even say twelve weeks!).
Around now, the mother will begin weaning. She will also spend a lot of time teaching her pups how to interact properly with other dogs. Mom will show her puppies important behaviours which will help them socially later on in life.
Fearful (8-12 weeks)
Week 8 will be the beginning of potty training, and by the twelfth week, your puppy may even be able to hold it all night!
Bratty (3-4 months)
Your puppy will seem to forget commands they’ve already learned and see what they can get away with. At this stage, they will be learning about dominance and where they fit in the pack. The best way to stop nipping during play is by stating “no” and ignoring them for a short period. They soon get the hint that playtime ends when biting starts.
Your puppy will also be teething during this stage, so it is important to give them plenty of chew toys.
The Dreaded TEENS (5-18 months)
This stage will test your patience. The teen puppy life stage brings on an increasing amount of energy, independence, and intelligence. At this age, your puppy may look like a full-grown dog, but still lacks the maturity of an adult.
It’s important to spay or neuter your puppy around this time, to prevent unwanted litters and possibly some unwanted behaviours as well (marking territory, humping).
It’ll be smooth sailing from eighteen months on, but if you find your dog becoming aggressive or fearful, it’s important to contact a professional. For more information on the teen stage of puppy life, go to our article “The Teenage Puppy.”