Tag Archives: puppy development

Your Puppy’s Development: 6-12 months

Congratulations, your puppy is now reaching adolescence! During these “teenage years” you can expect your pup to be a bit of a handful, but she’ll emerge as a full-grown doggy adult before you know it and you will miss these silly puppy days. She may be a bit awkward physically as well, as she reaches her adult height well before reaching her adult weight. Her appetite is likely to fluctuate along with her changes in height and weight. Both physically and behaviorally, this can be an age of inconsistency, but with the proper guidance and training, your puppy will settle into her adult body and temperament.

Much like human teenagers, adolescent pups use their newfound sense of independence to test their limits, which sometimes means acting out. While there may be occasional lapses in your puppy’s behavior, your reactions should remain consistent, firm and most of all patient. You may see further tests of dominance and ranking in the home around this time. Some misbehavior is normal as your dog explores her dominance in the pack, but it is important to continue to be firm about where she ranks in the hierarchy.

Physical Changes
By now, your puppy should have lost all her baby teeth and grown a full set of adult teeth. Her last teeth to fall out will be her upper canines, or “fangs.” You will need to continue to provide approved chew toys at least until all of her adult teeth have come in, although many dogs enjoy chewing on toys well into their adult years.

A puppy that has not been neutered will reach sexual maturity around this time and begin exhibiting sexual behaviors, such as mounting in male dogs. This is normal behavior, but can be minimized by spaying or neutering your dog before they reach maturity.

During the last stage of puppyhood, a puppy’s energy level skyrockets, and her need for activity goes up along with it. Keep her mind and mouth busy with sturdy toys and plenty of play. This can be a demanding time for puppy parents, especially if they did not establish boundaries with their puppy earlier. Try not to let your puppy get bored or leave her alone for too long, as this could lead to unwanted behaviors like chewing up the furniture or investigating the trash, especially at this age. Though it can be exhausting, this can be a very fun age with your pup and you should be sure to enjoy every minute!

Patience is key during this last stage of your puppy’s development, and so is practice, practice, practice! It may take a while to see results in your puppy’s training, but if you stay persistent, you will have a very well-behaved adult dog before you know it. Soon your furry friend won’t be a puppy anymore—but she will always be your baby.

Your Puppy’s Development: 3-6 months

Between three and six months old, your puppy is starting to find his place in the “pack” that is your family. It is important to provide leadership that establishes a healthy balance of power between you and your furry member of the family, while also making him feel loved and welcomed. This is an exciting time in your puppy’s life and marks the transition from puppyhood to adolescence.

Since dogs are evolutionarily pack animals, they will have a tendency to “rank,” or form a hierarchy in their perception of the household. This hierarchy will encompass other dogs as well as the humans in the household. If your puppy thinks he can, he may try to become the leader of your family pack and demonstrate unwanted behaviors or aggression. That’s why, during this period of growing confidence and independence in your puppy, it is necessary to enforce the desired household hierarchy.

Your puppy should continue to receive exposure to other dogs and people throughout this time, which will be influential in shaping his behavior. Practice obedience and any desired working commands with your puppy, and enroll him in puppy obedience classes if available. Your puppy needs a firm set of rules, but also plenty of love and attention to prepare him for the potential turbulence of adolescence.

At four months old, your puppy may alternate between feelings of bold invincibility and cowering anxiousness. Support your fragile puppy with gentle direction and continued positive reinforcement. While your puppy may test out his dominance in the pack, he is also learning and may be overly skittish when reprimanded. It is important to be firm but gentle with him when correcting unwanted behavior to show that you are the leader, but clearly demonstrate that he doesn’t need to be afraid of you.

Physical Changes
Your puppy is now starting to act more like a dog, and look like one, too. He will soon be reaching his adult height and will be developing his adult coat. Small-breed puppy growth tends to slow around now, and they start to settle into their adult appetites. Larger breeds are still maturing and may continue to grow and maintain their puppy appetites until they are over a year old.

Around three months old, your puppy’s baby teeth fall out and his grown-up teeth begin to grow in. Your pup may be a little restless from the discomfort that comes with his new teeth growing in, so be sure to have plenty of chew toys available for him. To prevent your favorite shoes from becoming a favorite chew toy, you will need to communicate to your puppy what is OK to chew on and what is not. Having plenty of approved chew toys available will help with this process.

If you have a male puppy, he will be reaching sexual maturity between five and six months old. Females will experience their first heat a bit later, between 6 months and a year for small dogs and possibly as late as 18 months for large dogs. We recommend spaying or neutering your pooch at six months to prevent unwanted litters and any behavioral issues or unwanted attention from other dogs that may arise when your puppy reaches sexual maturity.

This is a period of physical as well as mental transformation for your puppy. Some people refer to this as “elementary school age” because of the social and physical growth that happens during this time. By the end of this stage, your puppy should find a healthy place in his “pack” and recognize you as the leader.

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.

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.

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.


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.

Your Puppy’s Development: 8 Weeks

The time has finally come! After a long several weeks, your puppy has finally reached the age of homecoming and can travel to his new family if he weighs at least four pounds. This is a special time for both you and your puppy. From an owner’s point of view, it’s the joyful time when your family will finally be complete, and you anticipate the moment with excitement. For your puppy, it’s a time for independence and growth, but also a chance to share his abundant love with someone who’s eager to reciprocate those same feelings. Eight weeks is an optimal time for a puppy to join a new home, but once he gets there, it’s important for him to receive the proper welcome. Here’s what you should know about caring for your puppy of eight weeks.

As long as they are over two pounds in weight, puppies can be spayed or neutered as early as eight weeks old, although many owners choose to wait until the puppy is closer to six months old. We recommend neutering or spaying your puppy before he reaches sexual maturity to avoid potential training and health issues as well as any unwanted litters. Neutering is also believed to have health benefits in both male and female dogs.

If you choose to get insurance for your new puppy, PuppySpot offers comprehensive insurance plans through Trupanion which provides 90% coverage of new injuries and illnesses, including hereditary and congenital conditions. It’s best to get your puppy covered as soon as he arrives, as insurance keeps care costs low, especially if your pup requires expensive procedures down the line. Usually this requires a vet visit, but PuppySpot puppies can (and should) be insured from day 1.

A Typical Day

Because this age is full of many new experiences, it’s important to provide your pup with support to help him enjoy his busy environment to the fullest. Since he is meeting new people and dogs and coming into contact with unfamiliar settings, your puppy may be sensitive to abrupt sounds and movements. Therefore, it is crucial to enter new experiences with a positive attitude so your puppy does not associate these experiences with fear. The more positive associations your puppy makes at this stage, the more likely he is to be a friendly and well-behaved adult, rather than timid or aggressive. Previous activities like going on walks and using the crate may occur with less ease than before, but with the right guidance, they can still go smoothly for both you and your pup. Try to avoid stressful situations such as unnecessary surgery and travel. Make grooming visits infrequent and approach the vet’s office with gentleness and plenty of praise. Your puppy sees you as his provider of safety, and will treat you as such, staying by your side for comfort.

Socialization continues to be important, and should continue once your puppy arrives home. Eight weeks old is an ideal time for a puppy to form strong bond with people. A puppy’s mind has by this point developed the capacity to form greater social connections, so he can benefit from contact with new faces, both human and canine. You can now take him out to places like dog parks that require vaccination so your pup can get the chance to meet and interact with others.

You will also want to expose your puppy to new sights sounds to prevent him from becoming fearful of everyday noises and commotions. Common sounds include cars, children, vacuum cleaners and the TV. One way to expose your dog to new experiences is by simply taking him outside. Going out on walks is a perfect opportunity for your puppy to see new faces, both human and canine, and learn the appropriate way to interact with each. Give him the time he needs to sniff out a new dog, and if things get aggressive, separate the two and move on. You can also introduce your puppy to the sounds of cars driving down the road, horns honking, and other common neighborhood noises. Your puppy will learn that cars are normal, and he does not have to lunge or bark at them when they pass by. When riding in a car, make sure you follow the proper guidelines in your area for driving with a dog in the car.

Your puppy will also be learning the regular scents of the neighborhood while on regular walks. Every new place a puppy visits is full of brand new, foreign smells. Bringing your puppy out in public, whether it be to outdoor malls or restaurants with outdoor seating, introduces him to new sights, sounds, and smells and helps him adjust to being around new people.
Socialization is the key to raising a pup that is warm and friendly around others, instead of aggressive or overly cautious.

Your puppy’s first week home, while exciting, can also be overwhelming to a young pup. But if you treat your new bundle of joy with patience and care, you will be amazed by just how much the little one can add to your life.

Your Puppy’s Development: 7 Weeks

At seven weeks old, your puppy is nearly ready to come home! Some puppies need just one last week to develop alongside their littermates, with their mom as a guide. Seeing how active she can be during this stage, though, it’s clear that she’s almost ready for a new chapter in her life.

During week seven, a puppy is becoming much more coordinated and is getting used to how far and fast her little legs can take her. She uses her abundant energy to move around the room freely and skillfully. As her motor skills improve, she becomes more receptive to training and she is better able to figure out what you’re asking of her.

Your puppy is learning to control her bladder at this age as well, but it will take a lot of work on her future owner’s part before she is fully house trained.

A Typical Day
A puppy can be quite restless during bedtime, and her dream activity can look a bit startling to someone who’s never seen it before. Your puppy may have a twitch in her legs, paws, ears or facial muscles. She may also let out barks, whimpers or cries. These are all normal signs of a dreaming pup, and will continue with less frequency as she grows older.

You may also see puppies eating grass at this age, but it should not be a cause of concern. It is normal for a puppy to eat fresh or recently cut grass, and this behavior is harmless as long as the grass is free of pesticides and other chemicals. You may want to discourage this behavior if the puppy eats enough for the grass to come back up again, but small quantities of grass will not hurt her.


There are critical lessons a puppy must learn before making it out into the world by herself. By seven weeks of age, your puppy has learned a lot from her environment and the humans and animals around her. Her caretaker has made an effort by now to socialize the puppy and handle her daily, while also giving her ample time to spend with her fellow littermates. It’s very important not to separate puppies from their original homes before seven weeks because puppies who leave their litters too early may become nervous and show signs of biting, barking, and other unwanted behaviors. Any discipline puppies receive at seven weeks of age should be from their mothers, as the puppies are still too young to process human reprimands.

Though just seven weeks old, a puppy is already growing and learning enough to achieve independence from her puppy family. While she may be leaving her mother and littermates soon, she won’t be alone. Puppies are born and bred to be among others, and she will quickly take to her new family.

Your Puppy’s Development: 6 Weeks

Your puppy is now six weeks old and one step closer to becoming independent! He is likely weaned, or very close to being weaned from his mother. Just as humans learn appropriate behaviors from their family and peers at a young age, puppies also must learn social cues during this period of development in order to integrate smoothly into the world. At this age he may even be learning to use the doggy-door! But there’s more for your pup to learn in the sixth week of his life.

Puppies begin getting first their vaccines between six and eight weeks old. This gives them a great start in life and ensures immunity to many common puppyhood illnesses, like distemper, parvo, and Bordetella. PuppySpot requires all breeders to perform a comprehensive health evaluation for every puppy and keep their puppies up-to-date on all vaccinations and de-wormings.

A Growing Appetite
At six weeks, many puppies can start to eat dry kibble and their feeding can be reduced to three times a day, now that they are old enough to go longer between meals. Puppies can start by eating kibble soaked in warm water for one meal a day and drinking their mother’s milk for the other two meals. The amount of food the puppy eats will gradually increase as he gets more comfortable eating solid food from a bowl.

Puppies at this age regularly interact with others, including their mom, littermates and breeder. A puppy greets his littermates with sniffing to the nose and tail. He also learns a lot from his mom—the best example of mature doggy behavior around. A puppy takes after his mom’s example, but he may still be quite rambunctious while he is learning.

A Typical Day
A puppy at six weeks will be curious about his surroundings, as well as those who inhabit it. He’ll sniff his littermates’ noses and tails the same way adult dogs sniff each other when they first meet. Humans may view sniffing each other’s rear ends as an odd way to say hello, but it’s just how dogs get to know each other. The stronger the scent, the more information is available for a pup’s nose to pick up!

Your six-week-old puppy is no longer glued to his mother, and is starting to spend more time interacting with his littermates. He likes to use his newfound mobility to learn from and form relationships with his family. But he’s still got a long way to go before adulthood!

Your Puppy’s Development: 5 Weeks

Week five is when a puppy is exposed to new faces other than his mom and littermates. At this age, your puppy appears more playful and curious by the day. She is exploring the world around her and learning how to interact with others. Socialization is all about learning how to interact with other dogs and humans and your puppy is just beginning this process. Since her eyesight is now well-developed, she is fully aware of her surroundings and eager to take her place in the big, busy world.


At five weeks old, a puppy begins to form relationships with people and other dogs. Her first interactions will be with her mother, but now that her eyesight is fully developed, the puppy will start getting to know her siblings, caretaker and other humans. She now interacts with people every day, getting to know their touch and scent. She also learns to identify and interact with her littermates. These early lessons on how to be a dog will be useful for years to come.


A puppy five weeks of age enjoys playtime with her littermates, mother and human caretakers. This is also when, as fidosavvy.com describes, your puppy learns the important lesson of “bite inhibition” and the difference between fighting and play biting. This lesson teaches a puppy the appropriate limits of play in her future interactions with others.

A Typical Day
Your puppy already looks more active—rather than sleeping all day, her open eyes give her more reasons to stay awake and explore. She enjoys activities like playing with humans and her littermates, and is learning more about the world every day.

A puppy at five weeks old takes in a lot of new information, while also enjoying herself as she gets to know the pups and people in her life. Socialization holds special importance during this period, and a breeder might accomplish this by encouraging her to spend more time with her littermates instead of predominantly with her mother. Giving the pup some alone time also helps prepare her for her eventual journey to meet her new family!

Your Puppy’s Development: 4 Weeks

During the first four weeks of a puppy’s life, integral development begins that will set the stage for the rest of his life. While still very young, the puppy takes his first step towards independence: weaning. It is during this period of time that your puppy starts to gain independence from his mother. The puppy no longer relies on his mother as his sole distributor of nutrition. This is where human intervention enters the equation to make sure the puppy grows and receives the best care possible. Your experienced breeder takes on a very important role full of responsibility at this stage.

Because puppies are in the care of their breeders until at least eight weeks old, we’ve put together a snapshot of developmental milestones your puppy experiences, starting at four weeks old.

Physical Changes
At four weeks, your puppy undergoes a major increase in growth. A puppy’s eyes open between two and four weeks old. Like human babies, puppies are born with bluish-gray eyes, but by this stage, their eyes settle into their adult eye color. Your puppy now has a full set of puppy teeth and can begin weaning. He starts to eat soft foods, and according to fidosavvy.com, some mother dogs will even regurgitate their food to give their puppies a soft form of nutrition. When not sleeping, your puppy spends most of his time eating and still needs food at least four times a day.

While your puppy’s motor skills are still limited at four weeks old, he shows the beginnings of playful behavior through his various human and canine interactions. Every breeder has certain practices for further preparing your puppy for socialization as an adult. A common practice among breeders is a method called “tolerance training,” which is a way of handling the puppy to make him more tolerant of future handling from new people. This training can be especially helpful to prime for your puppy for contact with young children who do not know their limits when it comes to handling living creatures. This training can include gently tugging on puppies’ tails, lightly squeezing their paws, turning the puppies over and rubbing their bellies.

A Typical Day
A four-week-old puppy spends most of his time sleeping and eating, but the rest of the time is spent exploring! He can stand up, walk around, wag his tail and test out little puppy barks. He interacts with his littermates and learns about his place in the world as a pup.

Between two and four weeks of age the puppy begins to gain independence from his mother, heightened senses and greater knowledge about his surroundings. The socialization that takes place naturally between him and his littermates and his increased ability to observe his surroundings will give him a good foundation for a healthy and happy future.

What to Expect at 12-16 Weeks of Age

At 12-16 weeks of age, your puppy will be growing rapidly, both physically and mentally. Puppy’s senses and motor skills are becoming more advanced, which means you’ll notice his curiosity peaking, a more acute awareness of his surroundings and less awkward movements as he continues to discover his new environment and practices walking and running. A major development is something called “flight ingraining,” which means that instead of following you around everywhere, puppy is now starting to test limits by exploring boundaries. Puppy is excited by his newfound independence and you may notice him always headed in the opposite direction of you. Don’t let it become a habit; consider this the time to reel him in with both leash and obedience training!


Congratulations on the progress you’ve already made in potty training. It should be getting easier as your puppy gains better bladder control, though you should still expect random (and sometimes, frequent) accidents to occur. Remember, patience and consistency is key to house training success. You may also want to enroll your puppy in a group training class to start socialization training if you haven’t already. Between 0-16 weeks is by far and away the most crucial learning period in your pup’s life. Consider him a sponge for soaking up your teachings. While there will be other opportunities to refine and change behavior, this is the time period when training is the most successful.


6-12-thumbnailYour puppy should have already received his first vaccinations, but should be getting boosters at 12 and 16 weeks. Make sure you’re up to date on your immunization schedule by checking with your vet. For example, Parvo is typically given at 16 weeks. Vaccines are required for most pet service providers such as groomers and daycares as well as dog parks, so it’s imperative you’re current on those shots before putting your dog or another’s dog in a potentially dangerous health situation.

Make sure that your home is not only puppy-proofed, but that you keep small, chokable/swallowable items away from your pup.


Your puppy should be eating high quality, solid food now that he’s

been weaned from his mama. Check with your veterinarian on the right feeding plan (on both amount per serving and frequency), but dependent on the breed, your puppy will likely require a few smaller meals throughout the day than adult dogs. As he grows, his “puppy teeth” will begin to fall out and be replaced by “permanent” or adult teeth. Just like a human baby, puppy will want to teethe, so make sure to give him plenty of chew toys to soothe his sore gums (and to prevent unwanted chewing on valuables!).


At this age, you’ll want to introduce your puppy to all kinds of new experiences to make sure he starts to get comfortable around not only other dogs but also various kinds of people – men, women, kids, senior citizens and strangers. At around 16 weeks is often when your puppy enters a fear stage. You’ll want to create positive associations with new things that may be frightening to your puppy such as loud noises or other animals to foster a healthy, safe transition and assimilation to his new world.