Before you take your
puppy home, this page might help you prepare for those first few days and
weeks of working with your puppy and understanding his behavior.
Birth to Two Weeks: Neonatal Period
Two to Four Weeks:
Puppy is most influenced by his mother and
Eyes open, teeth begin to come in, and senses
of hearing and smell develop.
Puppy begins to stand, walk a little, wag tail,
By the fourth or fifth week, eyesight is
Three to Twelve Weeks:
During this period, puppy needs opportunities
to meet other dogs and people.
By three to five weeks, puppy becomes aware of
his surroundings, companions (both canine and human), and relationships,
By four to six weeks, puppy is most influenced
by littermates and is learning about being a dog.
From four to seven weeks:
Don’t discipline for
play fighting, housebreaking mistakes or mouthing – that’s all normal behavior
for a puppy at this stage.
From four to twelve weeks, puppy remains
influenced by littermates and is also influenced by people. Puppy learns to
play, develops social skills, learns the inhibited bite, explores social
structure/ranking, and improves physical coordination.
By five to seven weeks, puppy develops
curiosity and explores new experiences. Puppy needs positive "people"
experiences during this time.
The following occur around the time puppies leave us,
or after puppies leave us:
By seven to nine weeks, puppy is refining his
physical skills and coordination, and can begin to be housetrained. Puppy has
full use of senses.
By eight to ten weeks, puppy experiences real
fear involving normal objects and experiences; puppy needs positive training
during this time. “I’m
Afraid of Everything” Stage--Not all dogs experience this, but most do, and
they’ll appear terrified over things that they took in stride before. This is
not a good time to engage in harsh discipline (not that you ever should
anyway!), loud voices or traumatic events.
Your puppy’s bladder and bowels are starting to come under much
better control, and he’s capable of sleeping through the night sometime
between 8 and 12 weeks.
By nine to twelve weeks, puppy is refining
reactions, developing social skills with littermates (appropriate
interactions), and exploring the environment and objects. Puppy begins to
focus on people; this is a good time to begin training.
begin teaching simple commands like: come, sit, stay, down, etc. Leash
training can begin.
Three to Six Months: Ranking Period
Puppy is most influenced by "playmates," which
may now include those of other species.
Puppy begins to see and use ranking (dominance
and submission) within the household (the puppy's "pack"), including humans.
Puppy begins teething (and associated chewing).
At four months of age, puppy experiences
another fear stage.
Six to Eighteen Months:
Puppy is most influenced by human and dog
At seven to nine months, puppy goes through a
second chewing phase, part of exploring territory.
Puppy increases exploration of dominance,
including challenging humans.
If not spayed or neutered, puppy experiences
beginnings of sexual behavior.
Links of Interest
Potty Training (Housetraining)
The potty training is the toughest thing for me, also. So much of it is
"timing," so we start by taking the puppy outside as soon as he/she wakes up
from a nap, and also within 20 minutes of eating if he hasn't shown signs of
wanting to go after eating.
We can usually tell if a puppy has to (I guess I have to say this
word...unavoidable, LOL!) poop. ;-) When they need to go, their bottom/anus
will be puffing out a little bit. If it isn't puffing out, "usually," they
aren't close enough to needing to potty to be able to get them to go at this
age. You'll quickly learn to recognize that physical sign, and also his
signs of looking for a place to go.
We like to take them to the door, set them on the floor, and either tap
their paw on the door or ring a bell (hanging from a string or a bell that
is suctioned to the floor) before proceeding outside. This teaches them that
they need to "give a sign" at the door to signify that they need to go
outside. If we pick them up and carry outside, without stopping and asking
them to make a sign, it may take longer to get them to give you a sign.
When I'm outside with a puppy that I want to go potty, I stand completely
still (unless that doesn't work after a week or two, and then I might try
slow walking). Sometimes, the puppies will come to me and want me to pick
them up, but I ignore them. If I walk around, they seem more interested in
moving with me and not looking for a place to go. I also stand in the same
place every time, so they go potty in the same area every time. Each time
they go outside, they can smell their previous potties there, which I think
also helps them prepare to go. When we play outside, I go to a different
place (away from the potty area) to play for both cleanliness reasons and
also to keep play and potty separate. Many people/trainers even suggest
taking soiled paper towels (pee) and stools from indoor accidents outside
and placing them at the potty location in the yard.
With that said, I also have to acknowledge that young puppies often go
outside, don't go potty, and then return to the house and potty within a few
minutes. Or, they will pee outside a little, go back to the house, and
within a couple minutes will pee more (this often happens if we praise them
before they are finished pottying, which interrupts them so they still have
more urine to expel...it's best to not praise them or move until they are
totally finished). It is normal, because sometimes they really don't have to
go to the bathroom when we take them out. As they learn the potty training
process, they learn to "try" when they go outside, but it's too early for
Pottying in the crate isn't unusual at first, as puppies can't "hold it" for
very long. But, having a too-large crate does give the puppy the idea that
he can use part of the crate for a bathroom, and part for sleeping. So,
blocking off part of the crate so it is just large enough for the bed may be
a good idea until the puppy is potty trained. If a puppy continually pees in
the crate, a drastic measure might need to be taken: leave the wet towel in
the crate and don't use a bed. Quickly, the puppy will discover that you are
no longer refreshing the bed, and he will try to hold it to avoid having to
live in his potty.
Training (and Grooming)