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Puppy Stages


Congratulations!  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.

Puppy Development

Birth to Two Weeks: Neonatal Period

  • Puppy is most influenced by his mother.

  • Senses of touch and taste are present at birth.

Two to Four Weeks: Transitional Period

  • Puppy is most influenced by his mother and littermates.

  • Eyes open, teeth begin to come in, and senses of hearing and smell develop.

  • Puppy begins to stand, walk a little, wag tail, and bark.

  • By the fourth or fifth week, eyesight is becoming well-developed.

Three to Twelve Weeks: Socialization Period

  • 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, including play.

  • 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. You can 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: Adolescence

  • Puppy is most influenced by human and dog "pack" members.

  • 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

Puppy Development

Training Links

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 signal, it may take longer to get them to give us a sign.

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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 that still.

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.

General Training

Crate Training



Training (and Grooming) for Shows




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Cedar Ridge Beagles
c/o Toni Perdew
(the best method to reach me is via e-mail)
Bedford, Iowa
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