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Just like children, puppies go through different developmental stages as they grow. It is important to understand these different periods in your puppy’s life so that you can better understand his behavior and know what to expect from him.

Neonatal: Birth to 12 days

Obtain nutrition and stay warm.

Transition: 18-20 days

Eyes are open but puppy does not see well until 21 days; puppy can crawl and begins to walk; teeth first develop; pup will react to sound but will not be able to tell where it came from; can go to the bathroom without stimulation.

Awareness : 3-4 weeks

First week puppy is able to use sight and hearing. A stable environment at this period is critical. Pups have the greatest need for their mother and a stable environment during this period. Learning begins in this stage.

Canine Socialization: 3 to 7 weeks

Puppy is weaned. Puppy practices body postures and vocalizations and learns their effect on littermates. Learn coordination and timing. Learns to accept discipline from his mother. Learns bite inhibitions. It is critical to keep the puppy with his mom and littermates during this developmental stage.

Human Socialization: 7 to 12 weeks

Best time to bring a new puppy home! Best time to introduce pup to things (in a positive manner) that he will be exposed to. Most rapid learning occurs.

First Fear Impact: 8 to 14 weeks

Any traumatic experience at this time will have a more lasting effect on the puppy then if the event happened at any other stage. No elective surgery should be done at this time. Puppy classes at this age need to be non-stressful for pup.

Seniority Classification: 14 to 16 weeks

Pup begins testing boundaries to see who is in charge. Establishing rules for pup is extremely important at this time.

Flight Instinct: 4 to 8 months

Puppy will still have a strong need to chew as adult teeth come in and set into jaw. Puppy continues to test boundaries in an effort to establish leadership. Pup may stop not comin g w hen called.

Second Fear Impact: 6 to 14 months

Dog may suddenly become fearful of new situations or even things that are well known to him. Don’t force dogs into fearful situations since it will only increase the fear, instead use treats and praise to encourage dog to be brave.