Weeks 1 and 2
These weeks are very quiet in that the puppies can not see or hear for the first 10 to 15 days, they can not regulate their own body temperature - they are totally dependent on their dam and their environment for warmth, nutrition and stimulation. They spend most of their time nursing, with large litters this means mom is always in the box as she is constantly nursing and cleaning her puppies. Puppies need to be stimulated to urinate and defecate. The major interaction we have with the puppies at this stage is Early Neurological Stimulation:
Lucy with her litter week 1
Lucy with her litter week 1 old
Eyes are open, they can hear and puppies can now regulate their body temperature - they pee and poop freely. Basically they are "born". Teething begins. They begin to start to walk, stumble around and even play and bark. They are less dependent on their dam at this point but she may still be their sole source of nutrition and she still cleans them and their environment. We are now interacting with them much more, talking to them, holding them, cooing at them, introducing them to different surfaces, sounds, and in general providing human nurturing and love. Mom is spending less time with them but is still very watchful and concerned for them. Even the most social of mom's may not want "strangers" near her puppies. See the rules of Seven below.
Lily 3 weeks old
They are up, moving at full force, trotting, barking, playing, and are less startled by noise and visual sights. Mom is still totally in the picture but her time away from them is increased by her choice, she is less concerned for them, but still may be their sole source of nutrition and she is still cleaning them and their environment to some degree. At this time the puppies are now able to have environmental changes that are more drastic, they are able to be outside some during the warmer parts of the day, be in areas of the house that are busier. Sound socialization is increased as are textures and surfaces. Toys are rotated more frequently and bigger toys are added. They are climbing on things and spending much more time awake playing. They are very responsive to our voices and gravitate to humans. They are just about ready to meet people other than their care takers.
Hunter 4 weeks exploring the bumble ball
They are little dogs, much more alert and adventuresome. Mom is starting to distance herself, leaving them now for a couple of hours at a time. Sight and sound socialization continues as does texture socialization. By this age they have come accustom to normal day to day sounds and have been exposed to several surfaces. They are better coordinated and less fearful of unknowns and while the safety of the pack is still very important they are less dependent on each other. They like to pile for warmth and comfort and they need this time. They are starting to navigate stairs, climb on toys and repeat things. Still nursing and being cleaned by mom but also eating twice per day and seriously eating, not just snacking. This is not a time to separate a puppy from it's litter for any extended period or for them to leave the pack to go to a new home.
Exploring the yard at 5 weeks
The week of independent thinking begins, though they are still learning from watching each other they are also beginning to think for themselves. Going off in their own directions more, climbing on things with ease, racing up and down steps, ramps, digging holes, playing in the water bucket intentionally. Mom is still in the picture, she still is cleaning them some and nursing them but she is spending much more time away from them than she is with them. They are eating three meals a day and cleaning the plate. Sound sensitivity has just about completely diminished, and new surfaces are to be explored without hesitancy. Their comfort zone of how far away from the pack area they can go has increased. They move about in smaller groups, still pack orientated however. Again regardless of how they look physically and what they are capable of they still very dependent on the pack and now is not the time to send a puppy onto a new home.
Charlie at 6 weeks
" it's so hard having all these sisters! "
Yet more independent of the pack but they still need to be interacting with each other, learning the finer points of doggie socialization and they need the comfort of the pack. This week really makes it's mark, this is my favorite week to begin training . Puppies are showing the ability to learn by repetition , they are ready to begin being conditioned for life's big move to a new home. They are now having at least one meal a day in their own bowl and are able to be away from the pack for a short period, and they are showing me just who they are. Mom is spending very little time with them by her choice, but they are still nursing a couple of times per day and she will correct them if she feels they are out of line. Some puppies may be ready to move on at this age however I do not recommend it.
Ruby in flight 7 weeks
Weeks 8 through 12
Puppies continue to explore the world around them and are very comfortable with a variety of area's and situations. They are ready to become a member of a new pack Once in their new homes they will begin to assess their position in the new family and they are eager to learn more. They form strong impressions of people and objects and their meaning. They need to be experiencing and enjoying a wide variety of new situations, including puppy play group. As an individual they will continue to learn through play and will have to learn 'human' games as well. Now is not a time to keep your puppy home, though you do need to be cautious of where you take your puppy for health reasons, it is equally important that they go places. Take them for car rides daily, take them to the office, go visit with a friend at work. Pass them around person to person and let them experience life. Be sure that they go at least one new place a week and continue to visit 'old' places too. Everyday is a new day and everyday should be a new experience.
Matti 8 weeks in her new home
Jade 8 weeks, it's a long road to Alaska
Kita 8 weeks in her new home
Brian I need a photo and a name!
Juvenile Period 3-6 months
Puppies continues to learn through life's experience and they become increasingly independent and are able to cope with being alone for longer periods of time, but they still need social stimulation with other puppies and strangers as much as they need quiet down time at home. They are physically changing a lot, their size is greatly increased, they are able to go for longer walks and once fully vaccinated they are able to explore even more of the world. They are heavily teething, loosing teeth and getting teeth in. Obedience training can take on a new dimension at this time, though I prefer to always train with positive reinforcement. Corrections will also become an important factor at this stage. Now is the time to get a good recall, and teach your puppy to stay in close, it's fine to wander out and to be independent but they also need to learn to come. This is best served by working off leash.
Lucy baby sitting
Adolescent Period 6 months 1 year/18 months
Puppies at this age are teenagers, and now is not a time to become complacent about training and or manners. They become increasingly independent and they will test their position in the pack for hierarchy, both with other pet's and humans. They becomes sexually mature, bitches will have their first estrus cycle and dogs will develop a true biological interest in the opposite sex. Their adult molars which have erupted are still growing and the pup has a strong desire to chew. This is truly a testing time, a test of your abilities past and present. An age when most dogs really become a challenge even dogs who have been handled well. However, if the ground rules have been gently but firmly established during the previous periods, this period will be far easier to cope with.
Banner 18 mos. with his grandfather Rolex
Maturity 2 years and beyond
Your puppy is now a dog, basic character has been established. Although behavior patterns can continue to be refined for a few years, 'an old dog can be taught new tricks'. Your dog is still capable of learning new things, and you should continue to expose him to new challenges, but they are less flexible in some areas. This is the time when all the hard work put in during puppy hood should pay off and you can relax a bit and enjoy life with a well rounded, happy adult dog!
Sunny age 2 baby-sitting
By the time a puppy is 7 weeks old, it should have:
1) BEEN ON 7 different surfaces:
Carpet Concrete Wood Vinyl Grass Dirt Gravel Wood Chips
2) PLAYED WITH 7 different types of objects:
Big Balls Small Balls Soft Fabric Toys Fuzzy Balls Squeaky Toys
Metal Items Wooden Items Paper/Cardboard Items Milk/Soda Jugs Etc.
3) BEEN IN 7 different locations:
Front Yard Back Yard Basement Kitchen Car Garage Laundry Room
Bathroom Crate Kennel Etc.
4) BEEN EXPOSED to 7 challenges:
Climbed a box Climbed off a box Go thru a tunnel Climbed up steps
Climbed down steps Climbed over obstacles Played hide & seek Go in & out
doorway with a step Etc.
5) EATEN FROM 7 different containers:
Metal Plastic Cardboard Paper China Pie Plate Frying pan Etc.
6) EATEN IN 7 different locations:
Crate Yard Kitchen Basement Laundry room Bathroom X-pen Etc.
7) MET AND PLAYED WITH 7 new people: including children & the elderly
I hope you have enjoyed this little tutorial of puppy hood to dog-dom !