5 critical development stages in puppies is something everyone getting a new puppy should know.

Puppies are cute, fun and usually wild and undisciplined when you get them. When taken from the litter they are looking for leadership also known as their new pack leader. Good leadership comforts a puppy and will help him grow up with a balanced life. Dogs are happiest when balanced. No leadership and only affection may cause a puppy to become unbalanced which can lead to unwanted behavior, unstable temperaments and your dog being the leader of the pack.

Start your puppy off with confidence by providing leadership. Teach your puppy good manners, with rules, boundaries and limitation, teach him simple commands and fun tricks. Give him plenty of exercise and affection. This is the best way to show your puppy you love him. Many people make the mistake of showering a puppy with too much affection and not providing leadership and discipline. Discipline is love, exercise is love and petting, hugging and kissing is affection. Be sure your puppy is being raised in a balanced environment.

Your puppy is capable of learning and more importantly you are setting the stage for his development from 7 weeks of age. Puppies are paying attention and learning things from the minute you get them. If you are not teaching him good behavior then he is learning bad behavior. Leadership / discipline training can be fun and build a lifelong bond of love and companionship.

Puppy training should be fun, teach them tricks, commands, play the dominant role in fun puppy games most importantly set rules and boundaries.

Starting from birth the puppy stages begin.

First Period from 0-21 day's during the first 3 weeks of the puppies life the mental capacity is very small. The puppy reacts on the need of warmth, food, sleep and its mother.

Second period 21-28 days. Abruptly on the 21st day the puppy's senses start to function. This second phase is when the pup absolutely needs his mom. During this week the dog's senses function, the brain and nervous system start to develop and the big new world around him can be pretty frightening. The emotional and social stress of life will have the greatest impact on him during this week. Removal from the mother at this age could be detrimental. The breeder should also be knowledgeable in the dos and don'ts while handling puppies at this age.

Third period 28-49 days. Slowing the puppy reacts to his surroundings. He ventures away from mom to explore the world around him. This period the dog's nervous system and brain will have developed to the capacity of an adult but of course without the experince. He'll be ready to recognize people and respond to the voice. It's during this third period that social order or pecking order of the litter starts to form. This means that puppies that learn to get in and fight for their food will tend to become dominant and the pups that are cowed by the more aggressive pups will become shy and develop wallflower personality. It's desirable for the pup to live in the litter long enough for him to get a little competitive spirit from his family life but too much is harmful. The breeder should be knowledgeable in the dos and don'ts while raising puppies at this age. The puppy is now ready to learn and learn he will. So it is best for the human to get into the picture at this point. Proper involvement will mold the type of personality that you want the dog to have. When the puppy is exactly 49 days old although he will be physically immature, his brain will have attained its full adult form.

Fourth period 7- 12 weeks the trainer and the dogs should start to get to know each other. Research has shown that this, the 49th day is the best time in the puppies life to establish human relationships. Between 8-12 weeks of age is the best bonding period for a new puppy to be with his new owners. To develop a bond that will have a permanent effect on the puppy. Simple commands can be taught at this time. Teaching is at this point is in the form of games. Except in the case of house breaking or excessive barking, there should be little discipline. By the time the puppy is 12 weeks old he should know commands like sit, stay, come, possibly heel and some simple tricks.

Getting settled in the new home is a very important part of his education. A secure puppy will be a balanced happy dog ​​and will take to learning and discipline.

Puppies that have had little human contact before 16 weeks of age have little chance of becoming what we want in a companion.

Fifth period 12- 16 weeks is when the puppy starts to school. The play teaching games stop and the formal lessons start. The puppy is ready to learn discipline behavior. This is the time a young dog will declare his independence. We prepare the dog for learning in the 7-12 week period. Fundamental training then begins at 12 weeks and by the end of 16 weeks the puppy will know his basic commands and respond well to them.

Teaching puppy things at a young age sets his developmental ability to learn. The ancient adage you can't each an old dog new tricks isn't necessarily true if your dog has developed learning skills as a puppy.

Early development training should include:

  1. House breaking.
  2. Learning to communicate. Dogs are talking to us constantly though body language and behavior. Make an effort to learn his and he will learn verbal language from us. Teach him words in a simple manner as if you were learning a foreign language.
  3. Who the pack leader is.
  4. What the rules, boundaries and limitations are.
  5. General good manners no jumping, biting, barking, digging etc. To be calm when being handled for grooming and nail trimming, and riding in a car.
  6. When and how to be calm and submissive.
  7. Basic commands like sit, down, stay, come, and to properly walk on a leash.
  8. He should be socialized with other pets. Spending time with other dogs will keep him used to communicating with animals of his own species.
  9. Be exposed to many sites and sounds. Here is a tip, dogs don't understand consoling they understand affirmation. If you give affection to a puppy in a fearful state of mind you affirm that his reaction of fear to noises or actions was the correct reaction. If you take a different approach by saying in a happy uplifted voice "that was fun want to do that again". This will send a clear message that the scary noise or situation was no big deal in fact make it a game by engaging him with a happy response. Making it a game will snap the dog's brain out of fear to acceptance. In some situation it is better to simply ignore his fear and walk away. Leaving him to figure out on his own that it was not big deal. We do not want to perpetuate fearful reactions in dogs towards lightning and thunder, fireworks, children's activities, cars going by, etc. Don't pet, pickup, show affection or pity to a fearful dog. Simply redirect his attention and make light of the situation.

I hope I have provided you with enough information for you to make a wise choice in choosing a puppy that has been started out right from birth and how to properly raise your puppy once you get him home.


by Cathy Adamson