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Puppy Life Stages: from Birth to Adulthood

Updated on October 3, 2012

The Different Stages of Puppy Hood

Puppies as infants and toddlers go through different stages of their growth. These stages are characterized by both physiological and psychological changes which characterize each stage. By recognizing these stages, as a new puppy owner, you will benefit by knowing what to expect and being one step ahead of puppy training. Following are the most common stages of puppy-hood through adulthood.

From Birth to 7 weeks old

Being born blind and deaf, puppies are very vulnerable beings that must stay close to their mother which may become particularly protective in some cases. From birthday to 7 weeks old, puppies must stay close to their mother in order to be fed, learn some basic manners and social behavior etiquette.

7 weeks to 8 weeks

This is a very important stage in s puppy's life. It is at this stage that puppies are generally put up for adoption and ready to go to their new home. By now they must have been fully weaned and have effectively learned by their mother acceptable social behavior. They are also at a stage where they easily adjust to new situations, an ideal time to change home and care givers. At 8 weeks old puppies must also begin their first series of shots and continue at 12 weeks and up until they will be 16 weeks. It is the new owner's responsibility at this time to ensure the puppy is not traumatized by the trip to the veterinarian.

8 weeks to 18 weeks

The great thing about puppies is that at this stage they are mentally very elastic, being able to absorb from their new owners new commands and new acceptable behaviors. Puppies at this stage must be socialized as much as possible because they undergo a grace period where they are much more open to being introduced to new people and new scenarios. However, between the ages of 8 to 10 weeks old, puppies undergo a ''fear'' stage where they can be easily startled. It is important not too excessively reassure or baby dogs during this stage or they may perceive that you are praising them for being afraid.

4 months to 6 months

Expect your puppy to go through a growing spurt and develop new teeth as the baby teeth start falling out. Keep on hand a good supply of chew toys and redirect your puppy towards them by saying ''no'' when he or she gets a hold of your favorite slippers. Puppies at this stage are full of energy and will benefit greatly from lots of exercise and training. At approximately 4 months your puppy may go through a second fear stage, try to build your dog's confidence levels by praising when your dog exhibits confidence in himself and takes initiative in inquiring the world around him. Around six months most veterinarians recommend spaying or neutering your dog. You may however, want to wait a bit longer if you own a large breed dog such as a Rottweiler as the hormones may help growth and prevent bone cancer in the long run. Consult with your vet if you are unsure.

6 months to 12 months

Think only children go through adolescence? Think twice since your dog will go through its teen age phase at this point. Expect some testing, reluctance to obey commands, and a rebound effect where your puppy may act as if he has forgotten all about what your basic commands mean. Continue to be consistent and firm and your dog will get back to norm after this critical phase. Provide lots of stimulation, training and exercise. Obedience training may be helpful in resetting goals and refreshing commands.

12 months old

Your puppy now is a grown up dog. He or she is now easier to deal with having surpassed the teenager rebellious stage. He still however may benefit from advanced training to keep his mind stimulated and building confidence. Agility training may be helpful at this stage or you may enroll your dog in the Canine Good Citizen Test. Most adult dogs have reached their final growth at this time but they still may be building muscle mass.


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    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 23 months ago from USA

      Happy to hear your two Rottie boys bloomed into two wonderful companions. Kudos to you! I still have mine, they are 8 years old and I hope I get to enjoy them for a few more years. Wonderful dogs!

    • profile image

      Ann Taylor 23 months ago

      I raised two rottie brothers. I got them very early in their life. If you think puppies dont go through what your children do, how wrong you are. They were excellent dogs. Not a mean bone in them. Loving and protective of me. Even the sheriffs dept., loved my dogs. They together ate the floor and started on the walls when i found them. We got through it. Never spanked them. They fought over who would ride in the front seat of my car. And knew whos turn it was on the next trip. Very educated and i miss them so much.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for stopping by, this hub is actually pretty old. I wrote when I had to take a test on dog ethology a few years ago. I think my hubs improved since then, but I really need to improve this one when I have a chance.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Well done article; you've covered all the basics in a simple, straightforward manner.

      I just wish the Beagle we had many years ago, when my kids were little could have read your piece.. ...apparently, he did not learn anything from his mother. LOL

      Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      I am happy you found my hub on puppy life stages helpful! kind regards!

    • profile image

      retard1 5 years ago

      Thanks it was very helpful

    • profile image

      APatt 6 years ago

      THanks that helped a lot

    • trainmypuppy profile image

      trainmypuppy 7 years ago from Oxford

      Im new to hub pages and will follow your articles on dogs and puppies with interest

    • buddy12love profile image

      buddy12love 8 years ago

      there so cute

    • ronibgood profile image

      ronibgood 8 years ago

      Very good information. Thanks.