October is Adopt a Dog Month! If you choose to adopt a very young puppy, it’s important to be aware of your puppy’s first year stages and milestones—and it’s fun to observe them! Just don’t blink, because they grow and develop very quickly! One day you may feel overwhelmed by your puppy’s boundless energy, but before you know it, she will be a mature adult dog. At Anasazi Animal Clinic in Gilbert, we want to encourage you to get the most joy out of your puppy’s first year by understanding and celebrating all of the fun stages of development along the way!
Neonatal Stage (0-2 Weeks)
A puppy’s main concern during this time is food, and they will spend most of their time eating. Puppies generally aren’t adoptable during this stage, as they are completely dependent upon their mothers for nourishment. Most puppies cannot see, hear, or smell during this stage—they can only taste and touch.
Transitional Stage (2-4 Weeks)
While most puppies aren’t adopted during this stage, they are often gearing up to go home with their forever families. During this time, their eyes are beginning to open and they are seeing the world around them. Their senses are developing so that they can smell and hear their mother and littermates. They will begin standing, walking, and climbing all over their littermates, wagging their tails, and even barking. Their puppy teeth begin to come in and they can begin to chew on toys.
Socialization Stage (3-12 Weeks)
Amazing development happens during this stage, and this is when most puppies are adopted. Between 3-5 weeks, the puppy will become very curious and interested in everything around her, including people! Puppies in this stage begin developing relationships with people. Around 5 weeks, they are often figuring out their ranking in their pack.
As you anticipate bringing your puppy home, it is important to make sure your home is puppy-proofed (link to puppy proof your home) before the big day. Your puppy will have fully-developed senses around the age of 7 weeks, which means it is now an appropriate time to socialize her. Socializing your puppy is crucial during this stage. You can socialize your puppy by exposing her to as many different people, dogs, cats, and environments as possible—make sure this is done in a controlled manner to avoid injuries.
The 7 week mark is also a great time to begin potty-training. You will notice your puppy teething and biting quite a bit during this stage, sometimes going potty in the house, and needing to be watched closely when you open outside doors. All of this requires a lot of love, patience, and consistent entertaining and training!
Ranking Stage (3-6 Months)
If you haven’t already begun a training program with your puppy, now is a great time to get her started. Puppies of this age are testing out ranking—this means they will try to be dominant and/or submissive with you and other dogs around them. We recommend enrolling your dog in an obedience class and practicing your newfound skills regularly at home. Your puppy will be in full teething mode during this stage, and may try to chew on your possessions to soothe her painful mouth. Make sure to provide your puppy with plenty of safe chew toys during this stage and keep an eye on her at all times.
Adolescent Stage (6-18 Months)
The final stage in your puppy’s first year is adolescence. Your dog essentially becomes a teenager during this stage, complete with major physical growth and even hormonal mood swings. It is not uncommon to feel your puppy is regressing socially during this stage, and perhaps displaying more destructive behaviors at times. It is important to anticipate and understand this stage of her life, and to continue socializing and training her patiently and consistently.
Exercise is highly important during this stage, as it provides a regular release of energy for your puppy that can regulate mood and energy levels. While this stage can be challenging for some puppies, it is a very important period in their development. Encourage your puppy with lots of love and positive training during this stage so she will continue growing into a wonderfully socialized and mature adult dog.
Our team at Anasazi Animal Clinic in Gilbert is here to serve you during your puppy’s first year. Give us a call today to schedule your puppy’s first year appointments!