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1st Year Puppy Stages

Be prepared for  every stage of puppyhood by learning what to expect, and not to expect:

4-8 Weeks


At this stage, all puppies should still be with their mother and their littermates where serious socialization, fears and pack respect is established.

It’s crucial for puppy development that they stay with their mothers and littermates until at least eight weeks old.

Taken away from their littermates/mum before 8 weeks can create subliminal ‘fear phobias’ that will surface later as they mature.  i.e. mouthing/chewing/separation anxiety.  Puppies will start to show signs of chewing, and their sense of smell will really start to be present. They will still have their puppy coats.

8-12 Weeks

                           Great time to bring your puppy home!

Get your puppy microchipped and an appointment with your chosen veterinarian clinic for their first vaccinations.

They will sleep a lot but also be more curious and explore more.  Puppy Obedience Classes at 12 weeks are good [if COVID-19 is no longer a problem in your area] ~ and are up-to-date with vaccines.

They should know and respond to their name easily at this stage. Your puppy will experience growth spurts throughout this period.


16 Weeks

Interesting:  At 16 weeks your pup could easily be at half of their full adult weight.  They usually start to lose their milking teeth between 4-7 months of age and will want to ‘chew’ a lot to help loosen milk teeth and massage full canine teeth to push through.

 TIP:  Like human babies losing their ‘milk’ teeth ~ teething is painful!   Giving them a wet soaked & frozen, twisted face cloth will help ‘freeze’ and numb their gums which will help freeze their gums and sooth/disipate the pain temporarily.  You won’t notice it, but they sure will feel better.

FYI:  Dogs hide pain ~ because in nature pain is weakness and makes them vulnerable to other predators ~ so dogs tend to have a high pain threshold, hide discomfort…but still feel the pain like we would.

Keep valuables out of reach and give them a few soft toys & a frozen twisted face cloth that will freeze their gums & make you an amazing dog owner!

Sign up for Obedience classes ~ where you both will learn a lot, like basic commands and rewarding for good behavior.  Ps:  Girls tend to learn faster than boys at this stage, just like us when we were in Elementary School.  Don’t worry male dog owners….your darling boy will catch up fast later.

Important:  Spay or Neuter Appointment.    Set a date now to have your puppy spayed or neutered.  With 3+ million dogs given up to Shelters annually, and even more dumped to fend for themselves, we don’t need another ‘litter’……….Check our 110,000+ adoptables in need of a home on our website, you’ll see there’s more supply than demand.  Help us help them!

6 Months


They are getting adventurous and starting to take more risks.  Be sure to continue using your basic commands (sit, stay, come, etc.), as your puppy should fully understand that you are the alpha leader in the pack.

Some smaller breeds of dogs will already hit puberty at six months. A lot of their adult canine teeth should be in place now and their adult coat should be filling in.


12 Months

Your puppy may, but not always, be at their expected height and weight.  While their height may have been reached their bone density is still a work in progress, and therefore we believe that all dogs are still puppies till 18 months of age.  Their outward physic may have been established but their inside bone development may still be going on.

At this point, your vet should start talking with you about booster vaccinations.  Larger breeds will be hitting puberty now, and all dogs will start to get a bit rebellious. Even if your pup tries your patience, stick to his training and basic commands.


18 Months

You now have an adult dog. Your dog’s personality is likely established.   Much of your dog’s socialization tendencies will be set now.    Like we humans ~ some dogs mature at a slower rate ~ so no need for concern if your dog is still acting like an adolescent.

I am a strong believer in keeping your puppy/dog on Puppy food till they’re 18 months, especially large breeds.  While their height may have been attained, their ‘bone structure’ is still developing and setting, so the extra protein in Puppy Food is a good idea.  Talk to your Vet and get their feedback and nutrition beliefs.

Addendum True storyMy female Std. Poodle and I had won top obedience honors nationwide and were on a ‘roll’.  I had just acquired my 2nd Standard Poodle, a male, to achieve the same honors and winning performances in dog sports.   Training him was a different story.  I tried everything, including foreign languages and raw steak ~ and he just wouldn’t respond.  Then one day at 3-4 yrs of age he knew everything perfectly, as if he had stored it all to bring out one day when he was ready……..and we went on to win countless trophies over his competitive lifetime including a ‘Dog World Award’ in Madison Square Gardens in Obedience, a rare and one of the most difficult awards to achieve…just ‘shows to go you’!