Dog Years: The 7 Stages of Puppy Growth and Development – Animal Facts
We can all agree that our puppies grow up to fast. It seems to happen in a blink of an eye. But, if you pay close attention, you may notice that it doesn’t happen all at once. Between his first breath to reaching full grown doggy status your new friend goes through not only physical growth but also mental growth. Let’s get to know how your puppy will develop.
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Stage 1: The Neonatal Stage from 0 to 2 weeks
Fresh to the world, your newborn puppy or whelp can’t see because his eyes are still closed, can’t hear because his ears are sealed shut and he can’t potty without help from mom.
Your newborn pup is helpless and vulnerable, as the pup cannot regulate his own body temperature and requires food and warmth from his mama.
Virtually all the energy your new pup’s body generates goes toward growth. He typically doubles his birth weight during the first week of life. Since he can’t yet stand, he adorably paddles around using his front legs. This soon leads to crawling.
During this stage, human interaction should start.
He should be handled gently by his humans beginning at this stage of his development.
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Stage 2: The Transitional Stage from 2 to 3 weeks
This next stage of puppyhood will see your pup’s eyes and ears opening up. Yep, that means the puppy will start to hear, and his sense of taste and smell will develop, although he’s been able to smell since birth.
As you can imagine, these events give your pup a whole new outlook (literally) on his world.
Most pups in this stage are standing up, and within the next several days they take their first clumsy steps.
This is the perfect time to start introducing your puppy to your other pets.
It’s important to keep in mind that these are general aging milestones. Each dog develops on his own timeline based on breed or breed mix and other factors.
Stage 3: The Canine Socialization Stage from 3 to 7 weeks
This stage is when the puppy begins to show his personality and figures out that he is, in fact, a dog. It’s during this period that his interactions with other pets and people increase, and he’s able to form attachments.
Puppies removed from their mother during this stage of development could become noisy, rowdy, and possibly aggressive.
The canine teeth begin to push through, and a full set of puppy teeth make an appearance between weeks 4 and 6.
Stage 4: Human Socialization Period from 7 to 12 weeks
This is the minimum age in which most puppies should be adopted out, or leave their dog mom and littermates.
Weening will be completed at this stage and your puppy will be hearty enough to thrive without his mother’s milk. If you’re buying or adopting a puppy, this is likely when you are going to be told you can get him.
This stage of development includes a sub-period that happens while your pet is about 8 to 10 weeks. It is known as the Fear Impact or First Fear period. During this period, any traumatic experience could later become a lifelong problem. If your pooch, for instance, experiences a fear of strangers at this point in time, it could become an issue all throughout his life.
Stage 5: Seniority Classification Stage from 12 to 16 weeks
During the Seniority Classification Stage, your puppy will try to figure out who is boss.
It is important that you discourage all the biting and nipping of human hands or clothing and leashes. If still together with his litter mates, there will be intense competition between them.
By approximately 16 weeks, your pooch’s personality, as well as emotional makeup, will be fully developed.
Stage 6: Flight Instinct Period: from 4 to 8 Months
During this short period, your little companions will try your patience. Your pup will refuse to listen and try to run away and not come even when called. Your best bet is to wait him out and keep him on a leash until this phase passes. It’s just a phase.
Stage 7: Adolescent Stage: from 6 to 18 months
Your puppy will be a nutty teenager during this stage of puppyhood. We all know how teenagers can be subject to the winds of change at any given moment. Well, your puppy will be the same.
The puppy will have strange fears of new things and may flake out for no reason. Hence this stage is often called the “Second Fear Impact Stage” by animal behaviorists.
You will need patience and a lot of it. When your puppy balks, it is best to simply ignore it (much like you would with some human teenage quirks). Don’t reinforce your puppy’s fears by petting him and trying to offer words of reassurance, as this only enforces the behavior.
Hey wait, you said 7 stages. Yeah… Congratulations! Your puppy is an adult dog. If he’s still convinced he’s a dog. This is the Young Adulthood stage from 18 to 24 months.
During this stage, your puppy, I mean young adult, may try to show dominance. Don’t be surprised if some teenage weirdness shows up occasionally. After this stage has passed, you now have a full-fledged adult dog who is prepared to grab the world by the tail.
Enjoy every moment of precious time with him!
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