Basic Training

The Fun (But Exhausting!) Stages of Puppyhood

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Aren’t they just adorable with their innocent curiosity, their little round bellies, and that sweet smelling breath? Well, yes, but that’s only the half of it – they sometimes put absolutely everything they can wrap their teeth around in their mouth, they seem to pee at random and without warning (or regard for carpeting), and they often leave us wondering if they don’t know their name yet, or are they just ignoring us?

Yep, I’m talking about puppies! The most adorable, lovable, precious, and seemingly insane animal you could ever bring into your home.

According to an article entitled “Stages of Canine Development” published in Weimaraner Magazine, there are eight stages of canine development that constitute puppyhood. These periods are divided according to the days after the dog’s birth until your four-legged bundle of joy becomes an adult. Being aware of your puppy’s development stages and knowing what to expect can help you to give him the best care and training possible.

And, there is some relief in knowing your pup’s bizarre (or irritating!) behavior is just a phase.

How Puppies Develop

1.    Stage 1 – Neonatal Period (Birth to 13 days of age). This period is considered to be the most helpless stage of development as the pooch here is still not capable of regulating his own body temperature. The pup needs food and warmth from his mother or his surrogate. During this time, human interaction has to start. Puppies need to be handled gently beginning this point of their development.

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2.    Stage 2 – Transition Period (13 to 21 days of age). Here, you will observe the eyes and ears of your puppy start to open up. Apparently, during this stage, your pet will begin to see and hear. Even his sense of taste and smell will start to develop. More handling from humans is of great significance at this point. If you have friendly kittens, the transition period will also be the best time to introduce them to your puppy.

3.    Stage 3 – Canine Socialization Period (21 to 49 days of age). During this stage, your pooch will start to show his unique personality. This period will be a critical time for him to continue on relating with his mother and his siblings. You will see how your little pet will learn to submit to his mother and to understand discipline. It is important that you do not remove your puppy from his mama at this point in time as he could become noisy, rowdy, or worse, aggressive as he matures. In addition to that, this stage includes a brief sub-period that lasts from 21 to 23 days. It is called the Awareness period which highlights the rapid sensory development experience of the pup, thereby implying that owners have to avoid making radical changes during this phase.

4.    Stage 4 – Human Socialization Period (7 to 12 weeks of age). This is the minimum age in which most puppies should be adopted out, or leave their dog mom and litter mates. Weening will be completed in this stage and your puppy will be hearty enough to thrive without his mother’s milk. 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 Sub-period and this is when any traumatic experience in the part of your pup could later become a lifelong problem. If your pooch, for instance, experiences a fear of strangers during this point in time, it could become an issue all throughout his life.

5.    Stage 5 – Seniority Classification Period (12 to 16 weeks of age). For this phase, the puppy will try to figure out who is the boss. It is important that you discourage all the biting and nipping of human hands or clothing and leashes. If your pet is still with his other litter mates, intense competition among them may be noticed. By approximately 16 weeks, your pooch’s personality as well as emotional makeup will be fully developed.

6.    Stage 6 – Flight Instinct Period (4 to 8 months of age). During this short period, your little companions will try your patience. You will observe how your pup will refuse to listen and try to run away and not come even when called. What you can do best is to simply wait him out and then keep him on a leash till this period goes by.

7. Stage 7 – Second Fear Impact Period (6 to 14 months of age). Your pup is basically a wild teenager during this phase. Expect unpredictable behavioral changes at any given moment (just like human teens!). Your puppy may develop strange fears and may act out for no apparent reason. You’ll need extreme patience during this stage. But, when your teenage pup acts out or displays unusual new fears, it’s best to ignore his wacky behavior. Never reinforce his fears by petting or praising him as this will teach him that it’s alright to be afraid.

8.    Stage 8 – Young Adulthood (18 to 24 month of age). Congratulations – You survived puppyhood! During this time of development, your pup may try to show dominance or territorial aggression. Don’t be surprised if some sort of teenage weirdness is exhibited occasionally – just as before, ignore those brief moments, they too shall pass.

It may seem crazy to willingly put ourselves through the task of raising a puppy. Rest assured, although you may be at your wit’s end from time to time, the reward a puppy brings far exceeds any irritation or exhaustion. Plus, they don’t bottle puppy breath, so where else are you gonna get it?

Do you have a puppy? What phase is he/she in? Or, if you’re a puppyhood survivor, tell us – which was the most difficult?

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  1. Avatar Of Sheryl



    we have an 8 week old Basset Hound puppy! We have been without a dog for over 10 yrs. So this is very hard going thru the puppy stage again. yikes! little sleep for me these first 2 nights. and trying to teach her the boundaries in the house is not easy. she too the crate right away. thank goodness. But figuring how to keep her busy when I need to do chores. Plus we have a parrot who is used to having all the attention. Next will be what to do with her when both my son and I have to work.

  2. Avatar Of Bala



    Luna, our 8mth old GSD! We brought her home 2 wks ago. She is sweet, calm so much love right now! But like other fur baby parents, she loves to nip my arm the most! I hope we raise her well with positive reinforcement and some days a bit more challenging…. LOL! This is our fur baby #4 so this is not new territory but every puppy is different. Looking forward to fun times with Luna ❤️

  3. Avatar Of Lisa



    I have a 15 wk chihuahua pup. He is such a good boy. He is pee pad trained and will continue to use them thru his life. The only issue I have is the biting. I live with my elderly mom and he relentlessly tortured her with the biting. I’ve taught “no bite” and use timeouts. The problem is more with my mother’s inability to respond properly to this behavior. He is not as bad with me. I am noticing also the stage we are at he is being defiant more too. I’m trying not to over react but I also have to keep my mother safe. She takes blood thinners and a nip can bleed all day for her.

  4. Avatar Of Jane



    The stages article threw me a life line- thank you! My 14 week old boarder collie, great pyrenees mix is testing me almost every minute of her waking hours. Thank you for sharing your stories. You’ve all given me hope to face another wild and crazy day.

  5. Avatar Of Pam Walters

    pam walters


    Got to 21months, sigh, It wasn’t all good, but not all bad either. She now knows what to do and how to do it.(sometimes). Would not be without her, but at times it was soooo hard. But we love her so much, it was worth it.

  6. Avatar Of Jane



    14 weeks my heavens he's scaring the cats again. his energy is unrelenting as is the repetitive barking, jumping. I'm doing my best to remain patient but according to this I'm no where near the end. *SOB*

  7. Avatar Of Jck



    I know exactly how to deal with this 22-week-old Havana Silk bouncin'off the walls and tearing up everything in sight. Here, hold my beer.

  8. Avatar Of Patty



    Stage 6. God help me. He's eaten 4 pairs of glasses. He's so fast I can't catch him to disapline him. Just once I'd like to get out of bed in the morning without getting my feet chewed and get to the bathroom without peeing myself. I'd also like to put my pants and socks on like a normal person.

    • Avatar Of Jennifer



      This made me laugh out loud! I feel your pain. I got to 22 months with the first puppy…and then got another one! The older one seems so calm and mature…now that I have a 4 month old to compare her to!

  9. Avatar Of Alex



    9 week Jack Russell Terrier. Do NOT even speak to me right now.

    • Avatar Of Patty



      Lol. I know what your going through. I'm not enjoying the puppy stage!! I should but I'm not!

    • Avatar Of Mel



      We have a 13 month old jack russel/fox hound mix and she's a never ending ball of energy. I have the holes in the back yard to prove it. Goes hard for almost the whole day and crashes hard around 7:30 pm for about 12 hours.

    • Avatar Of June



      I hear you !! been there done that. “but they are sooo loveable” : )

  10. Avatar Of Jasmine



    We just adopted a 5 month old Beagle mix. My first puppy in over six years. She is driving me nuts! But after reading what to expect, I see she’s right on track. I was sure i was failing as a dog owner because she ignores me frequently and has been having accidents again. But looking at Wayne’s post, that at 11 months I may see a better behaved dog if I stick with the training and TRY to be patient, I feel a bit more hopeful and less like a failure. And I will be enrolling in obedience classes ASAP!

    • Avatar Of Charlene



      We have a 6 month old Shih Tzu, named Riley So cute and it's a good thing. Lol. I was texting the Breeder the other day about how i thought we had finally got him potty trained. Sent the text and looked down at Riley just in time to see him leave a puddle on the floor. Ugh! All you can do is keep moving forward. Patience!

  11. Avatar Of Cathy



    I have a 3 1/2 month old coton de tulear. A very cute cotton ball that won’t be bigger than 20lbs fully grown. Don’t be fooled by his size (about 10+lbs now), he’s a handful! The mouthing is the worst part, I can’t wait to get past this. Potty training is going well, if I watch him all day. I’ll take him out enough that he doesn’t make in the house, but if I have to leave him with my husband or kids, they won’t pay enough attention to him and he’ll have accidents. He sleeps throughout the night without a potty break which is great.
    He’s very smart (I think). He can play fetch, always brings back the toy. He understands “sit”, but won’t come when called all the time, which is frustrating especially when I let him out in the yard without a leash. I think he knows his name. He’s very feisty and I have to constantly remind him who is the boss. I’m in for the long run and I think I will have a very good dog soon!

  12. Avatar Of Wayne



    Our German Shepherd (Kaiser – Male) is almost 11 months old and is now starting to show signs of the wonderful adult he is going to be. He does still break out in crazy behavior and, as stated in the above article, it truly is best to ignore. I’ve also learned (and am still learning) the art of positive re-enforcement and gentle correction with the very sensitive and very intelligent GSD. I started training him very early on and am very thankful that I did. He took to it well and I quickly signed us up for obedience training. We enjoyed it very much and he excels.
    The one thing I still need to work on with him is the mouthing. He is not aggressive by any means, but he does use his mouth (teeth), especially on me, far too often. For example, if I go to pat him and he isn’t in the mood for that, he will gently grab my hand, turn his head and then release it away from him. I have been working with him on this by calmly, but firmly, saying “No” and then moving my hand back to continue patting him. After repeating this a couple of times, he gives in and lays his head down, accepting the attention. I think this is working, but slowly over time. I don’t remember our last GSD (female) exhibiting these behaviors past 6 months, but she had her own unique quirks. Anyway, it all boils down to relationship building – if it were always easy, it wouldn’t mean quite so much to me. 😉

    • Avatar Of Eileen



      You give me hope! I have a 5 month old GSD and have been questioning my puppy raising skills. I hope she settles down soon! I’ve had her in puppy training and am about to start intermediate training. Puppies are a lot of work… I am looking forward to her reaching adulthood and hopefully being a great dog! And, yes, the mouthing! It’s a tough thing to break.

  13. Avatar Of Diane



    My Springer is 13 weeks and is a handful! Today is the first day he hasn’t had a pee accident in the house…so far, knock wood! He’s been pooping outside for at least 3 weeks except for one day when he got locked in the house while hubby had to open the gate to leave for work. He’s becoming the “Velcro Springer” people hear about – he loves to be near me and follows me almost everywhere. We have a Malamute female who is just over 2 yrs (we think, she came from the shelter) who is usually really gentle with him even when he latches onto her tail. She’s starting to let him know when enough is enough now that he’s about 22 lbs. They cuddle up together to nap all the time.
    He’s crate trained, and “go nite nite” is just fine with him. But, the first two nights, he was really suffering separation anxiety, so I just put a leash on him, wrapped it around my wrist and slept on the couch. Then I read that covering the crate might help, so I tried that, and it worked.
    Our biggest problem is that he wants to carry his leash (yes, I got a chain leash!) in his mouth and he thinks the leather leash for the Mal is a chew toy, so we can’t go for a walk yet. He starts puppy kindergarten in 2 days – yay!
    I’ve spent a lot of time giving him his toys when he gets something that doesn’t belong in his mouth, and today, for the first time, he rounded up all the toys and played with them and didn’t even have to get told NO for grabbing something that wasn’t his. He’s still a little chewy mouth with our hands and feet, but we’re working on NO Biting!!
    He always comes when I call him and I hope this lasts! I’m trying really hard not to hold him too much, because he’ll be too big to be a lap dog soon, but he will lie on his back and just relax and get his belly rubbed when I do pick him up – so hard not to pick him up all the time! But now he’s getting a bit too big to pick up and hold for long, and he’s learning ‘off’ when he jumps on me – I’m telling him ‘Off! Four on the floor!” Silly, and probably too much to say, but he likes it when I praise him for four on the floor. He already sits on command.
    So, I think (hope!) we’re off to a good start! Now to work out the carrying his own leash problem, I’m sure our class will help with that.
    So, that’s my first few weeks with new puppy – haven’t had a pup in over 20 years!

  14. Avatar Of Shawn



    He’s a 10 month old goldendoodle, we are his third owner. He’s stuck with us we are in for the long haul. He’s very high energy.

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