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Puppy Stages: 12-Week Old Puppy Behavior and Development

Updated on January 20, 2014
12 week old puppy behavior and development
12 week old puppy behavior and development | Source
12 week old puppy behavior and development
12 week old puppy behavior and development | Source

What are 12-week old puppies like?

If you are wondering what a 12 week old puppy is like, you're probably planning on getting one of this age or have one already and you are wondering if his behavior and development are within the norm. If you are pulling your hair out and are having a hard time, rest assured, many feel that way. Puppies can be a handful, but luckily, puppy hood goes by really fast, and sooner than later you'll find yourself missing your puppy's behaviors and funny quirks.

Depending on the breed of the dog you have, a 12 week old puppy may be the normal age to be sent home from the breeder.This mostly applies to smaller breeds. For instance, it's normal for Maltese puppies to go to their new homes at 12 weeks old because they are still not fully developed both mentally and physically compared to larger breed puppies such as Labs, which usually are ready to go to their new homes at 8 weeks.

In the case of large puppies, 12 weeks is a little over the normal age they should be sent home, it could be this puppy was a singleton (the only puppy of the litter) or it was a left over puppy from a litter that has been sold. Sometimes, owners return a puppy to the breeder if it wasn't a good match, and of course, there are several other reasons if you got the puppy from a shelter or litter.

Regardless, now that you have a 12 week old puppy, you may be wondering what behaviors to expect and if these behaviors are the norm and what to expect when it comes to development. This article will cover almost everything there is to know when dealing with a 12-week old puppy.

12 week old puppy behavior and development
12 week old puppy behavior and development | Source

12 Week- Old Puppy Development

A 12-week old puppy is a small bundle of joy that just pleads for cuddles and kisses. It's very hard to resist the cuteness factor as you watch this young puppy romp around the room. While at this age they're only a fraction of what they'll become once adult,12 week old puppies have all the neotenic, cute traits of puppies but they are getting a tad bit taller, longer and their muzzles are starting to gradually lengthen

  • Soft Puppy Hair

At this age, 12-week-old puppies are still covered in soft puppy hair that fortunately sheds very little at this age. Puppies of these age need a very delicate shampoo that is purposely made for the delicate pH of puppies. This age is a good time to introduce the puppy to getting a bath and making the experience positive and fun. Puppy wipes that are hypoallergenic, and alcohol free can be a good solution for cleaning.

  • Puppy Teething

At this age, a puppy should have 28 puppy baby teeth. It's still early for them to get their adult teeth which should come in within the next three months. The first puppy teeth start falling out between the ages of 12 weeks to 7 months. They'll first lose the incisor teeth, then the premolars and finally the canines. In the picture, you can see how the 12-week old puppy lost her lower incisors. You may find the occasional baby tooth in the water bowl. However, they'll be starting chewing and it's your job to find safe chew toys and treats that are safe for puppies of this age. Failure to do that will results in puppies that chew furniture, shoes and will even try to chew the wall. Consider that puppy teeth are delicate, and an adult dog bone or toy may fracture them. Also, their digestive system is not fully developed so they need easy to digest foods. Puppies 12 weeks and older may start using Nyablone's Healthy Edibles and Nutri Dent Chews with the word " 3 month old puppy" somewhere on the packaging.

To help relieve sore gums, you can freeze a clean rag that's been soaked in water and then wrung out and offer it to your puppy . At this age, you can also start training your puppy to get acquainted with having his teeth touched so you can start brushing them. It's a good idea to have a puppy's mouth checked out by a vet between 3 to 4 months of age to make sure there are no bite problems and the puppy teeth are growing normally.

  • Better Bladder Control

At 12-weeks, puppies have better bladder control. This is a good time to start crate training. Generally speaking, you may expect a 12 week old puppy to be able to hold urine for 2 to 4 hours, depending on how much he drank and his activity levels. Some puppies at this age can also keep it through the night.

  • Immunizations

At 12 weeks, your pampered puppy needs to get a second vaccine booster, about 4 weeks after the initial one, generally given at 6 to 8 weeks. This second vaccination will likely contain distemper, adenovirus, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus and lepto. Lepto is generally given when a pup is 12 weeks or older and never before. Same goes with the rabies vaccine which is given after 12 weeks.

This 12-week-old puppy has lost her lower incisors.
This 12-week-old puppy has lost her lower incisors. | Source

12 Week Old Puppy Behavior

If you are planning on adding a 12-week old puppy to your household, make sure you puppy proof your home well to keep the fur ball safe and out of trouble. If you ever had kids, think of it as the 'toddler stage' when every thing had to be safely stored away. However, unlike a toddler, your 12-week old puppy will not be wearing diapers and will have the added bonus of sharp teeth. Following are some common behaviors of 12-week old puppies.

  • Boundless Energy

Your puppy will go through moments where he'll romp around and play. His gait is still quite clumsy, but he'll gradually get better coordinated. Dog owners often call these the "zoomies." However, the good thing is that they'll also get quickly tired and fall asleep. Expect puppies of this age to sleep soundly for about 18 to 20 hours a day. The rest of the day is then spent playing, eating and eliminating.

  • Exploration Adventures

At this age, puppies are learning all they can about the world around them. In the wild, mother wolves, which are a dog's ancestors, encourage 10 to 12 week old puppies to use less the den where they are raised and instead explore the great outdoors in special rendez-vous areas quite similar to open-air kindergartens. Coincidentally, in a domestic settings, puppies are starting to explore their surroundings, often mouthing objects just as babies do. This is why you want to really puppy proof your whole home.

  • Possessiveness

Mine, mine, mine! Just as a toddler is not willing to share his toys with other toddlers, 12- week old puppies go through a possessive stage where they may have a desire to guard their food and toys against other dogs and people. In the wild, once out of the den, this instinct helped young pups from starving. In a domestic setting, you may want to nip this behavior in the bud by tackling resource guarding before it gets out of hand.

  • Separation Anxiety

At this age, puppies may throw a fit when they are left alone. It's important to gradually train your puppy to be left alone. Try to avoid rushing to your pup when she is whining and crying. Rather, wait for her to calm down before you return to her. Doing so will teach her that calm behavior gets you back. Of course, before trying this method, make sure all your pup's needs are met. She may be whining because she's thirsty or needs to go outside to potty.

  • Socialization

At 12 weeks, the pup is in the full puppy socialization phase. ""100 new people by 12 weeks" recommends Dr. Ian Dunbar, PhD. This is the best age to take the puppy to puppy classes. Do your best to get your pup to meet different people, different pets, and children. Organize puppy parties so your puppy has the opportunity to meet as many different people as possible. For safe socialization tips, visit the "Operation Socialization" website.

As seen,12-week old puppies go through a whole lot! Enjoy this puppy phase as puppy hood is very short. This is because puppies are quite vulnerable when young, so the faster they go through this phase, the higher their chances for survival.

Alexadry, © All rights reserved, do not copy.


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    • Jennifer Bart profile image

      Jennifer Bart 3 years ago from Texas

      Great hub! Very informative and well organized. Reading this makes me miss my dogs puppy stage! I really enjoyed reading this.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      And the puppy stage is just so short! Puppies are the cutest things!

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