Puppy Growth Stages

There are 7 distinct stages of growth for a puppy, during each of these periods it is important to know how the puppy develops mentally as well as physically. The stages are typically broken down like this:
  1. Newborn to 3 weeks
  2. 3 - 7 weeks
  3. 7 - 12 weeks
  4. 12 - 16 weeks
  5. 4 - 8 months
  6. 8 months - 1 year
  7. 1 year - 18 months
Here are a few things that apply to all puppies:
  • Born Blind
  • Born Deaf 
  • Born Toothless 
  • Born not being able to produce it's own body heat 
  • Will cry, whine, grunt, or make any number of noises when they are hungry, cold, uncomfortable, or just plain not happy. 
  • Rapid mental and physical growth during the first 8 weeks
Birth - 3 Weeks
  • During its first three weeks most of a puppy's time is spent sleeping, allowing it to grow. This break down is about 90% sleep and 10% eating.
  • They are only able to crawl, we call them inchworms at this stage.
  • Start worming on second week and then every two weeks thereafter
  • Eyes will normally open between 9 - 12 days, allowing it to see shadows.
    • Ears will normally open between 12 - 17 days.
    • Teeth will start to appear
    • Puppies will learn their first socialization with the litter, but it is important to take them out or bring people in to help the socialization process.
    • Puppies first steps
    • Puppies will start to develop a sense of smell, start to bark and growl, and look happy to see you around 3 weeks
    • Mother will spend more time with puppies than away up to this stage
    4 to 7 Weeks (1 month - almost 2 months)
    • Weaning should start no earlier than 6 weeks
    • Mother will start to teach puppies correct dog behavior
    • Basic puppy socialization is a must during this period.
    • At 4 weeks the mother will start leaving the puppies more
    • Puppies are walking very well
    • Dominance is being established and will continue until the puppy leaves it's litter mates
    • Learns how hard to bite, what is allowed and what is punished by mom and litter mates.
      • This is why it is so VERY important NOT to take a puppy home before it is at least 7 weeks old and many reputable breeders will hold puppies until second immunizations and/or eye exams.
    • First exploration period
    • First immunization at 7 weeks
    7 and 12 Weeks (almost 2 months - 3 months)
    • First fear period starts around the end of week 7 and will continue based on the puppy's personality, but not typically past week 12.
    • A puppy starts to learn to come to human voices
    • Short attention span. Obedience training should be conducted in 5 - 15 minute intervals.
    • Start house training
    • Motor skills improve
    • Explores for longer periods
    • Second immunization at 9 weeks
    • Immunize for kennel cough if you are going to be taking your puppy to obedience classes
    2 and 16 Weeks (3 - 4 months)
    • This stage is equivalent to the terrible twos and you will need the patience of Job. Remember, your puppy only wants to please you it is just growing and learning about its environment.
    • Third immunization at 13 weeks
    • Some permanent teeth will start to break through, many toys with different textures are a must
      • Gums will be sore
    • Puppies that have a dominate personality will try to establish themselves as alpha and will challenge your authority.
      • Obedience training will help deter this.
    • Rabies immunization at 16 weeks
     4 and 8 Months
    • Think of this time as the beginning of the teen years, you will be challenged and ignored often. The key is patience and consistency in training. Don't give in to them, make them do what you want them to do, but pick your battles.
    • Provide them with items to chew, or they will chew on what ever they can get their little mouths on. Thankfully all permanent teeth will be in place around 6 months
    • Confidence increases
    • Puppies will want to play more independently, without you, but with other puppies.
    • Second fear period can start at 6 months and run until 14 months
    Months to 1 Year
    • True Teen years
    • May challenge you for dominance (alpha)
    • Watch for sexual maturity
    • Growth plate (joints) will stop growing and it is now safe for your puppy to jump off of things.
    • Looks like an adult, but acts like a puppy and will often forget what you taught at 3 months. Use a firm voice in training and always correct bad behavior.
    • Almost full grown in height, but will continue to fill-out in the chest, back, and legs
    12 Months - 18 Months
    • Viewed as an adult dog.
    • A dog usually does not attain full growth until at least its first birthday and many continue to grow until 18 months.
    • Most dogs will go through an "I forgot everything you taught me stage" between 12 - 18 months. This can be very frustrating, but be patient they will eventually grow their brain back.

    Australian Shepherd Growth Stages | Puppy Development Stages | Aussie