Developmental Stages Of
Although feeding time is important, it’s also vital to include petting, talking and playing, in order
to help your puppy build good “peopleskills.” Wellsocialized mothers are more likely to have
wellsocialized puppies. Puppies “feed” off of their mothers’ calm or fearful attitude toward
Puppies are usually weaned at six or seven weeks, but are still
learning important skills as their mother gradually leaves them
more and more. Ideally, puppies should stay with their
littermates (or other rolemodel dogs) for at least 12 weeks.
Puppies separated from their littermates too early often don’t
develop appropriate “social skills,” such as learning how to send
and receive signals, what an “inhibited bite” means, how far to
go in play wrestling and so forth. Play is important to help
puppies increase their physical coordination, social skills and
learning limits. Interacting with their mother and littermates
helps them learn “how to be a dog” and is also a way to explore
ranking (“who’s in charge”).
Skills not acquired during the first eight weeks may be lost
forever. While these stages are important and fairly consistent,
a dog’s mind remains receptive to new experiences and lessons
well beyond puppyhood. Most dogs are still puppies, in mind and body, through the first two
The following chart provides general guidelines for the stages of development.
0 2 weeks = Neonatal
· By four to six weeks they’re most
influenced by their littermates and are
· Most influenced by their mother.
learning about being a dog.
· Touch and taste present at birth.
· From four to 12 weeks they’re most
2 4 weeks = Transitional
influenced by their littermates and people.
They’re also learning to play, including
· Most influenced by their mother and
social skills, inhibited bite, social
structure/ranking and physical
· Eyes open, teeth erupt, hearing and smell
· By three to five weeks they’re becoming
· Beginning to stand, walk a little, wag,
aware of their surroundings, companions
(dogs and people) and relationships,
· By four or five weeks, sight is well
· By five to seven weeks they’re developing
curiosity and exploring new experiences.
3 12 weeks = Socialization
They need positive “people” experiences
· During this period, puppies need
during this time.
opportunities to meet other dogs and
· By seven to nine weeks they’re refining
they’re physical skills/coordination
Information Adapted from Denver Dumb Friends League,
Revised September 06