Every puppy goes through certain stages of development before growing into an adult dog. In the first 14 weeks, in particular, the baby dog goes through a series of fascinating changes that improve and shape its social and physical skills and shape its character. Puppy time usually lasts until they are one year old. This time is called the socialization phase. Find out below which stages of development your puppy goes through and what you should consider during the socialization phase.
Neonatal period: the first two weeks after the puppy is born
After birth, the puppies are helpless, they are born blind, i.e. with closed eyelids, and their senses are only partially developed. The first two weeks of their lives are all about feeding, so newborns can continue to develop. The puppies can now smell, taste, and sense touch, especially body heat. This is important so that they can find the mother’s teats. Since they are not yet able to support their own weight, they paddle towards the mother’s teat. They slowly begin to coordinate themselves and strengthen their muscles at the same time.
In the first two weeks, puppies sleep almost 90 percent of the time. And when they’re not sleeping, they’re eating. Breast milk, especially the first milk after birth, also called colostrum, contains many nutrients and immune substances and provides the babies with the best possible care. It also protects the puppies from infections in the first few weeks of life. Within the first week, the puppies gain enormous weight and double their birth weight during this time.
Puppy development: the transition phase
The transition phase in puppy development is the period from the second to the fourth week of life. During these two weeks, the puppies’ eyes open, their sense of hearing develops and their sense of smell also develops. The puppies begin to perceive their environment more and more. While they were previously dependent on the mother’s stimulation for defecation and urination, they are now beginning to defecate on their own. The body’s heat regulation now also works by itself, which is why the babies are no longer dependent on the body heat of their mother and littermates.
From about the 21st day the puppies start to walk. Now they slowly gain more independence and cautiously explore the world. At the same time, social play with the siblings begins. Due to the ability of the puppies to defecate and urinate independently, the first small training units for housebreaking can be started at this point. To do this, the breeder places small boxes with organic soil in a suitable place or lets the animals outdoors to a limited extent to let them do their business outside.
Socialization phase: an important step in puppy development
From the fourth week, the socialization phase begins, which has a major impact on puppy development. During this time, which lasts up to the 14th week depending on the breed, the character of the animals is formed. What the puppy learns during this period will never be forgotten. For this reason, it is important to positively expose him to many new things during this phase. Other animals, people, noises, objects, and other external stimuli are taken in and explored without fear, especially in the third to the fifth week, but also up to the eighth week. The more the puppies are allowed to get to know each other in an appropriate way during this time, the more relaxed and confident they will be in the future. The reason for this is the area of the nervous system that regulates relaxation and stress. What the puppies get to know calmly now, they also link later in this way. This process is very important for the feeling of trust and security so that the dog feels safe in different situations.
The fearless phase in puppy development up to eight weeks is followed by about two weeks, during which time the puppies become more cautious and fearful. This is a natural process that protects them from future dangers. Therefore, make sure that new impressions are carefully introduced to him and that he is not overstimulated. After all, negative impressions are difficult to revise. Since social play only really starts when it is eight weeks old, it may be advisable to leave the pup with its littermates and mother for a little longer.