Puppy Stages 

8–16 Weeks, 

The “I’m Afraid of Everything” Stage

 

The “I’m Afraid of Everything” Stage lasts from about 8 weeks to 3 months, and is characterized by rapid learning as well as a “fearful period” that usually pops up at around 8 to 10 weeks. Not all dogs experience this, but most do, and they’ll appear terrified over things that they took in stride before. This is not a good time to engage in harsh discipline (not that you ever should anyway!), loud voices or traumatic events.

 

At this time your puppy’s bladder and bowels are starting to come under much better control, and he’s capable of sleeping through the night (At last, you can get some rest!).

 

You can begin teaching simple commands like come, sit, stay, down, etc. Leash training can begin. It’s important not to isolate your puppy from human contact at this time, as he’ll continue to learn behaviors and manners that will affect him in later years.

 

This is a good time to enroll in puppy training classes. They teach you how to teach your puppy how to learn. Make sure all training sessions are fun and successful. Take advantage of the puppy's dependence on you and strong desire to be near you to teach him to be reliable on "come."Never punish a puppy, for any reason, if he has come to your call—or come to you at all! In fact, avoid trainers/training techniques which rely on punishment.

Get the puppy out into the world and expose him to as many new things and different ages, sexes and races of people as possible. Always make sure you can control the situation so the experiences will be positive. Have the puppy on a leash so that you can intervene if anything threatens or frightens him.

 

3 - 4 Months,

The Juvenile Stage

 

The Juvenile stage typically lasts from 3 to 4 months of age, and it’s during this time your puppy is most like a toddler. He’ll be a little more independent – he might start ignoring the commands he’s only recently learned – just like a child does when they’re trying to exert their new-found independence. As in “I don’t have to listen to you!”. Firm and gentle reinforcement of commands and training is what’s required here.

 

He might start biting you – play biting or even a real attempt to challenge your authority. A sharp “No!” or “No bite!” command, followed by several minutes of ignoring him, should take care of this problem.

 

Continue to play with him and handle him on a daily basis, but don’t play games like tug of war or wrestling with him. He may perceive tug of war as a game of nce – especially if he wins. And wrestling is another game that can rapidly get out of hand. As your puppy’s strength grows, he’s going to want to play-fight to see who’s stronger – even if you win, the message your puppy receives is that it’s ok to fight with you. And that’s not ok!

 

The more socializing you do along with training and continuing to establish pack order... the more well behaved dog you will have.  Continue educating yourself and socialize, socialize, socialize!!!

 

 

 

 

4–6 Months,

The Brat Stage

 

This pre-adolescent period is characterized by the gradual increase of independence and confidence. The puppy will venture further and further from you side, motivated by his own curiosity and increasing confidence in the world.

 

Continue training, in a class if possible. Begin incorporating distractions into your practice sessions. Take the puppy with you everywhere! This period is very important in cementing a bond strong enough to withstand the trials of adolescence (right around the corner). 

The Brat Stage starts at about 4 months and runs until about 6 months, and it’s during this time your puppy will demonstrate even more independence and willfulness. You may see a decline in his urge to please you – expect to see more “testing the limits” type of behaviors.

He’ll be going through a teething cycle during this time, and will also be looking for things to chew on to relieve the pain and pressure. Frozen doggie bones can help sooth him during this period.

He may try to assert his new “dominance” over other family members, especially children. Continue his training in obedience and basic commands, but make sure to never let him off his leash (in public) during this time unless you’re in a confined area.

 

Many times pups at this age will ignore commands to return or come to their owners, which can be a dangerous, even fatal breakdown in your dog’s response to you. If you turn him loose in a public place and he bolts, the chances of injury or even death can result – so don’t take the chance.

He’ll now begin to go through the hormonal changes brought about by his growing ual maturity, and you may see signs of rebelliousness (Think adolescent teen-age boy!). If you haven’t already, you should have him neutered or spayed during this time.

 

 

6–12 Months,

The Young Stage

 

The Young stage lasts from 6 months to about 12 months, and is usually a great time in your dog’s life – he’s young, he’s exuberant, he’s full of beans and yet he’s learning all the things he needs to become a full-fledged dog.

Be realistic in your expectations of your dog at this time – just because he’s approaching his full growth and may look like an , he’s not as seasoned and experienced as you might expect.

Gradually increase the scope of activities for your dog, as well as the training. You can start more advanced training during this period, such as herding or agility training, if that’s something both of you are interested in. Otherwise, extend his activities to include more people and other animals – allow him to interact with non-threatening or non-aggressive dogs.  

Even with the best preparation during puppyhood, things will be "hairy" from time to time during this period. The puppy/young dog's needs for stimulation, companionship and activity are very high, and his tolerance for boredom and inactivity are low.

 

This is the period in which sexual maturity is reached in unaltered animals. Guardians will experience testing behaviors reminiscent of human teenagers. Avoid situations in which the dog's occasional lapses of obedience could have harmful results, such as off-leash work in an unsecured area. Continue to provide safe opportunities for vigorous play and exercise, and safe toys to occupy teeth and mind when he's confined. This is not the time to expect model behavior.

 

 

12–18 Months

Somewhere during this period, your dog will reach emotional maturity; sooner, with small breeds, and later for large dogs. At that time, dogs with tendencies toward dominance will begin to assert themselves, hoping to raise their status in the pack (your household). This behavior occurs within a structure of familiar relationships and only when the animal is approaching emotional maturity.

Living with a dominant dog does not mean that the guardian must "conquer" the dog, or give up attempts to control him. But challenges from the dog must be recognized immediately and taken seriously. Punishment is not the appropriate method of dealing with this, and is likely to provoke a dangerous response. Consult a competent behaviorist should warning signs appear.  Do not wait for it to get worse but correct immediately with help of a highly recommended progessional.

 

Congrats!  You have made it through childrearing!  I mean puppy rearing!

by Charlie Lafave