Your dog’s needs change significantly, depending on the stage of development it’s undergoing. To help your favorite four-legged friend grow up healthy and happy, you need to understand their needs during each development phase.
Here’s a quick puppy development summary, from your dog’s birth to when it’s a year old.
Birth to two weeks: Neonatal phase and dependence on the mother
Puppies can’t clean up after themselves or feed themselves during this time, so they’re entirely dependent on their mothers.
Their movement is minimal, and they’re only able to stand and move at a snail’s pace. Their senses of taste and touch, however, are fully formed at this point.
Two to four weeks: Weaning and sense development
A puppy’s eyesight, hearing, and sense of smell begin to develop around this time. The puppy begins to interact with the rest of the litter and its mother as well.
Baby teeth start emerging, and the puppy learns how to bark, wag its tail, and walk. During this time, the pup should be weaned, and some solid food should be introduced into its diet.
Five to sixteen weeks: Socialization, vaccines, and training
The puppy’s sight development completes at around the five week mark. By week eight, it should no longer be nursed, and instead, should only be given solid food. The puppy shouldn’t be separated from its mother before at least eight weeks.
The puppy will begin to growl and bark to interact with other dogs in the litter as well. It will learn socialization skills such as inhibited biting—how to bite during play, but not in a way that is hurtful.
At this time, the puppy should be introduced to other people and exposed to daily human activities and sounds. At around six weeks, dogs can learn how to recognize their names and be trained using treats, praise, and other positive reinforcement tactics.
Make sure your puppy only begins to socialize with other animals when its vaccinations are up to date. Your vet will provide you with a vaccination schedule.
Four to twelve months: Adolescence and the establishment of hierarchy
From four to six months, the puppy grows rapidly and is extremely energetic. Make sure not to over-exercise it at this juncture, however, since it can tire itself out quickly.
This is the period in which dogs try to find out where they “fit in.” It’s at this time that you should enroll your dog in a daycare center, so they can socialize freely with other dogs that have similar temperaments.
You should introduce it to social circumstances as much as possible by taking it to beaches and dog parks, so it’s comfortable being around other animals and people. At one year, your dog reaches adulthood, and you should continue to train it, so your dog and all your family members can enjoy a healthy and fun relationship.