Your Puppy’s Development: 9-12 Weeks

The period between nine and twelve weeks is the time during which a puppy really hones her social skills, is open to learning and starts acting more and more like a full-fledged canine. She’ll begin chasing things, and this is a prime time to begin basic obedience training.

Health
At nine weeks old, your puppy should receive her booster shots (remember to book your vet appointment!). If your pup is a small breed and is still with her breeder, she will receive follow-up vaccines for distemper, parvo, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and corona as well as deworming medication. This is a normal part of a puppy’s health care and will help keep her healthy for many years to come.

Training
This is the ideal age for your puppy to begin obedience training. Your pup is becoming more social and responsive to your voice. She is paying active attention to both people and other dogs, and learning all the while. This is the perfect time to teach your puppy basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” “down,” how to come when called, and how to walk on a leash. However, not all training methods will work with a puppy of this age. Your puppy may still be adjusting to her new home, so you should try to provide as many positive with her as you can. Your puppy does not understand the concept of punishment, so scolding her for failure to obey a command will only teach her to be afraid of you. Training during this stage should occur with abundant praise and lightheartedness, and should focus on positive reinforcement rather than punishment.

Socialization

Your puppy is at the age where social interactions with others really matters. She continues to investigate her surroundings, enhances her responses to stimuli, and advances her social skills; therefore, it is important to expose your puppy to many different types of people and situations in order to prevent later fear or inappropriate reactions to her everyday world as an adult dog. It is a critical time for your puppy to develop the social skills that will benefit her relationships with both dogs and people. Arrange for her to meet other dogs while she’s still young, but make sure the dogs she meets are fully vaccinated until your puppy has received all of her own vaccines, typically by about 6 months old. The more positive, new experiences she has now, the more well-rounded and sociable she will be in the long run!

A Typical Day
Your puppy will require extra patience and understanding when she first comes home. She is still getting used to the sounds and sights and new everyday experiences, and some of the things that startle her might come as a surprise to you. As much as you can, avoid exposing her to painful or frightening experiences. For unpleasant experiences that cannot be avoided, such as the necessary booster shots, turn the experience into a positive one by smiling and cooing at your puppy and having plenty of treats ready. Don’t dwell on bad experiences or show that you are stressed about the event, because your puppy will pick up on these emotions. Instead, treat it as a game that your puppy should look forward to.

This is a special time when your puppy starts to recognize you as her trusted caretaker and learns to follow your directions. She’s also beginning to form a deep attachment with you as her loving owner and puppy parent.