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Puppy Development Stages

Updated: Feb 7, 2021

We get a lot of questions at K9 Culture Dog Training about when is the right time to train a puppy and a good time for socialization.

The best time to bring a puppy home is at 8 to 12 weeks. Whenever possible try not to get a puppy prior to 8 weeks for the 7th and 8th week are especially important in your puppy learning proper play manners from their mother.

We train many puppies that that at weeks 12 to 16 bite WAY too hard and aggressively. This is usually because the puppy left the litter at the 5th or 6th week, which is too soon. The mother teaches puppies how to play with better manners and begin controlling how hard they bite when playing during week 7 and 8. If they bite their mother too hard during this 2 week period, she will bite them back in a firm but “motherly” way, letting them know to tone it down.

There are two Fear Periods during the development stage for all dogs.

The first fear period is generally week 8 – 12. During this period try to avoid scaring your puppy or allowing your younger children to frighten them since a traumatic experience in this time can have long lasting results and can often be permanent. It is important to expose your puppy to new surroundings and new people during this period, just be intentional in what you do with your puppy for these 3 or 4 weeks.

Puppies will teeth up to about 9 months of age. When they are under 5 months old, you may notice they sometimes will act like a bit of a “butt.” If you watch, you may notice they are chewing a bit more. Just like a human child, loosing and getting new teeth can be temporarily painful so give your pup access to a wide variety of chew toys. We also recommend having a few refrigerated and frozen chews for the cold will help reduce the inflammation caused by their teething.

The Second Fear Period is usually sometime during month 6 – 14. The problem with this fear period for your dog is it is a long period of time but as a guide, watch for a growth spurt in your dog for often this growth spurt will be a trigger for the second fear period. This fear period generally lasts for 2 – 3 weeks and if we were going to say there is a magic month, it is often around the 7th month, but again, it can be as late as the 14th month. Smaller breeds tend to go through this period earlier than larger breeds.

Your dog’s second fear period is sometimes referred to the fear of situations period. It is referred to in this manner for situations can cause a fearful reaction and if handled poorly, they can embed a lifelong fear of that situation, place, or environment into your dog. Take care if something scares your dog during the second fear period to not cause more fear by overreacting but also do not coddle your pup during this period or you will inadvertently reinforce or encourage the fearful reaction setting it in deeper. Instead, redirect them, keep an upbeat attitude, and give them praise and move on.

Most breeds continue to grow until about 1 ½ years old. Larger breed dogs can continue to grow up to 3 or 4 years. During year 1 through 4 your dog is maturing and becoming an adolescent. Occasionally you may see increased instances of aggression or reactivity or testing your leadership. During this period, it is important for you to be consistent in the behaviors you allow and those you do not permit. If you stay consistent, your dog will settle into the routines that they will develop and draw upon for the rest of their life. Maintain your leadership in the household during these years, it will make the future with your pup easier and solidify your dog’s dependability. And remember, what you allow your dog to do is what your dog believes is OK for him to do.

Proper and training is always key in establishing strong foundations for your dog to draw from and setting him up to be a successful and happy member of your family be creating routines he can understand and depend on. If you are struggling with any period of your dog’s progression, and you are located in the Dallas Fort Worth DFW area, reach out to K-9 Culture and we would be happy to help you and your dog learn how to work together as a team. If you are outside of the Metroplex area, our Board and Train programs would be a good alternative.

Have Fun With Your Dog.

K-9 Culture Family

A Dog That Is A JOY To Live With!


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