Congratulations on your new puppy! The information here can help you
determine what to expect as your puppy grows and changes the first 18 months.
A puppy is a baby, and will act like one. Having neither the physical
or the mental capacity of an adult dog, a puppy cannot wait long periods of time before potty breaks, and cannot distinguish
between digestible and dangerous objects. Puppy proofing your home can go a long way to ensuring your new pet’s safety
and your good cheer. Remove items from reach that you don’t want puppy chewing, and provide appropriate chewy items
also. Do not leave puppies unattended with children in your home, especially young children and toddlers. Puppies require
patience, understanding, and supervision just as human infants and young children do.
A puppy doesn't mature into an adult dog for at least two years. If
you don't have the extra time for ongoing training and LOTS of play, plus extra pocket money for puppy's higher medical costs,
food and toy needs, get an older dog. Local shelters are a great source for more mature dogs waiting for homes - many who
are already housetrained and past the chewing stage.
Developmental Stages of Puppies
- Puppy should be with mother and siblings during this time, as it
is a critical time for interdog learning.
- Puppy will not have much bladder control yet
- Puppy will not likely sleep through the night
- Sometimes referred to as the “fear period,” the puppy
is impressionable and quick to fear. Object-associations formed during this period leave indelible imprints. Positive socialization
to people and experiences is vital.
- Puppy should have frequent potty breaks . Some puppies will be able
to make 3-4 hour intervals by 16 weeks, others will take longer. Find local dog walkers at this link.
- Most puppies will not sleep through the night yet.
- Good time to teach puppy the command “come” due to the
puppy’s dependence on you and strong desire to be near you. Never punish a puppy if he has come to your call—or
come to you at all! (This will very effictively teach puppy NOT to come when you call.)
- Socialization is still important: get puppy out into the world and
expose him to as many new things and different people as possible. Keep puppy on a leash so that you can intervene if anything
threatens or frightens him.
- Most puppies will be able to wait @4 hours now between potty breaks,
and often even longer at night.
- Important bonding time! Take puppy with you as much as possible.
- Puppy will have more confidence and curiosity to explore the world,
and will venture further away from you.
- Puppy proof your home to keep curious puppy safe, and you happy.
- Spay or neuter by six months.
- Your puppy should be able to go 4-6 hour intervals between potty
breaks during the day, and most likely make it through the night without needing to go out.
- This is not the time for “model” behavior expectations.
"Adolescent" testing will occur... Your dog will “test” the limits and rules from time to time as they grow mentally
and physically.This is normal, just like it is with toddler and teen humans - continue reinforcing training, and reward good
- House should remain puppy proofed.
- Puppy’s needs for stimulation, companionship and activity are
very high, and his tolerance for boredom and inactivity are low. He will need to stay busy with lots of exercise and play.
Find local pet sitters at this link.
- Your dog should be spayed or neutered if that has not been done yet.
- Provide safe opportunities for play and exercise (the dog park, the
fenced yard, etc), and safe toys.
- Potty training is complete, although accidents may still occur if
puppy is sick.
- Exercise is vital to a healthy, relaxed pup.
- House should remain puppy proofed for surges of puppy behavior.
- Emotional maturity arrives during this stage: sooner, with small
breeds, and later for large dogs.
- Your dog will be continue to grow and change and probably won’t
act completely “adult” until 2-3 years of age. Some breeds take longer than others to fully mature.