Puppy Development Stages

By understanding the puppy development stages, obedience training is most effective. Many pet owners expect training to take little time. It is unrealistic to expect a puppy to be fully trained before they are developmentally ready.

First Developmental Stage Occurs after Birth

Puppies are born deaf and blind. The first two weeks of their life involve the puppy's growth, usually doubling his weight in the first week. Without vision and hearing, a puppy's sense of taste, touch and smell are key to his survival.

For the next four weeks, a puppy is unable to regulate his body temperature. For this reason, it is important that the puppy be kept with his mother as much as possible and kept in a warm, draft-free area.

During these two weeks, puppies rely on their mother for everything. They cannot defecate without her stimulating them. They spend most of their time sleeping and nursing. As they grow, the mother dog begins teaching them some basics to socialization, but until they can hear and see, most of their development is limited. When their ear canals finally open in the second week, puppies are finally able to take in a little more of the world around them.

Second Stage of Puppy Development

The second stage of puppy development occurs between the third and fourth weeks. During this time, the puppy's eyes finally open. It's important to keep bright light to a minimum to prevent eye damage.

During this stage, puppies begin to see each other and their surroundings and become more active. This is when they start to walk rather than crawl and begin exploring. Breeders should begin socializing with the puppies during the fourth week to acquaint them with human handling.

Third Stage Involves Sending Puppies to New Homes

During the first half of this puppy development stage, puppies continue to grow. Once week five passes, a puppy is capable of hearing basic words or commands, such as "no" or his name. It's also time for puppies to head to the vet for their first rounds of vaccinations and dewormers.

As they reach eight to twelve weeks, puppies go to the bathroom unprompted, are weaned and regulate their own body temperature. They can leave their mom now.

It's important to immediately set boundaries and begin potty training the day you bring your puppy home. Positive reinforcement aids the process. To make sure the puppy remains well socialized with other dogs, consider frequent trips to a dog park.

Fourth Stage of Puppy Development

The fourth stage starts when a puppy is three months old and ends after the sixth month. Puppies may push to become the pack leader. Make sure you teach your puppy that you are the master or obedience training will be troublesome.

Puppies become very inquisitive and will wander off if given the opportunity. When you take your dog outside, keep him leashed and begin teaching the "come" and "stay" commands.

Puppies generally start to nip or teethe on their owners at this point, so now is the time to start teaching that biting is not okay. Make sure the puppy has access to numerous chew toys.