A Puppy’s journey – a development guide

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Safe and sound in his mommy’s womb, many things are already starting to develop and influence his behaviour and personality.

The dad and mom’s genetics are playing a big part, as well as mom’s experiences while she is pregnant. Does she feel safe? Or does she have to scavenge for food in fear of people chasing her away? Is she healthy? Or is she in pain, ill or anxious? You can bet that what mommy dog is feeling, the puppies are experiencing as well. The release of hormones and chemicals, based on what momma-dog is going through, affects the puppies development and adult life. Informed puppy raisers and breeders know all the development stages of a puppy and will work with the puppies accordingly. These stages can go by very fast so you have to be on point all the time. The following points are a puppy development guide, just to give you a glimpse of the work that goes into raising a puppy.

Between 3-weeks and 7-weeks is a very sensitive and emotional time during a puppy’s life.
  • At 2-weeks of age, their eyes open however the retina will not be fully developed yet.
  • From three weeks old, they start to form social relationships. This is where every experience with other animals and people should be a positive experience. Socialisation with different types of people, animals, and places is critical. It would be best to try and do this in a controlled environment so that you can keep all interactions positive.
  • At around 4-weeks old, they’ll start to move around on their little legs more comfortably. At this point it would be helpful to let them walk over all sorts of textures like tiles, wooden floors, grass, wet surfaces, carpets, anything that is not harmful to them. Momma-dog will be leaving them on their own more often and for longer periods to wean them. They will start to experiment with solid food.
  • At 5-weeks old, their eyes would be fully developed and puppies generally start to initiate play with their siblings or random objects. This is where they learn bite-inhibition. Their siblings will yelp if they bite to hard and momma dog will move away if they bite too hard. Us humans, have to play our part too, of course, to teach the puppies that teeth do not get to touch human skin. Make sure they have appropriate toys to bite on and play with.
  • At 6-weeks old, it would be time for their first trip to the vet for vaccinations, make sure that this is as fun for them as it possibly could be. Momma-dog is teaching them to dog, so puppies should not be homed yet. The puppy raiser or breeder would be responsible for continuous socialisation.
  • At 8-weeks old, the puppies will go through their first fear-impact-period. This is where everything and everyone is scary, even though it was not a week ago. It’s extremely important that puppies do not go through any bad experiences, because it will affect them throughout their whole lives. This period often lasts until 11-weeks of age.
  • At 12 weeks old, the puppies are ready to receive their 2nd vaccinations and to be homed to their approved homes. Momma-dog has taught them how to dog, and the scary phase is done. Puppies should be placed in a modern science based puppy school immediately for further socialisation and learning. The puppy raiser or breeder should have covered some basics already.
  • Teething: Puppy teeth will start to fall out at around 4-months or 5-months old. Make sure they have appropriate things to chew to help them through this very irritable stage.
  • Second fear impact period: At around 5 or 6-months of age, a second fear-impact period will set in. This is similar to the first period and will last around 3-weeks.

All of the above mentioned is an ideal case scenario. This is what we should all be striving for when purchasing a pup from a breeder. Puppies are hard work from the day they arrive in this world and as you can see, it takes a village to help each puppy to become a balanced pet. If the breeder you are wanting to purchase a pup from are not aware of the above phases or have not done any of the above to ensure a balanced healthy pup, you should probably not be buying from that person/s. Some dogs go through these phases very easily and some dogs struggle a bit. An ethical breeder would pick up that the puppy is having a hard time and they’ll step in to help.

If you are a puppy raiser, make sure you are informed about the above-mentioned phases, there is a lot more to it than written here.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to send them to me.