Development of puppies: from birth to adult dog

Every puppy goes through a number of developmental stages until it is an adult dog. You can read about everything it takes during puppy development to grow into confident and relaxed dogs here in the MydgShoppe magazine.

Below we will explain the different stages in the development of puppies. In part of this, the mother dog and the breeder play a very important role. However, when the puppy moves in with you, you are responsible for helping him along the way.

The first and the second week

The neonatal/vegetative stage in puppy development

This stage of puppy development naturally begins at birth. After that, the first two weeks of life are of great importance. The puppies are born blind and deaf. The main stimuli at that time are hunger and cold.

Most of the time the puppies will either sleep or seek contact with the mother for food and warmth. When they search, they make search movements: The puppies move their heads back and forth, making twisting movements. They do this so as not to have to go too far from the nest.

That’s when they learn their first things. If the puppy is cold or hungry, he has to actively do something about it and he is rewarded with success – food or body contact – for that. That experience should not be taken from them by too much help from people. Mild stress promotes stable emotional balance.

The puppies need to be protected but not over groomed at this stage of development.

Third week

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The transitional stage in puppy development

From the third week, the puppy will enter a transition phase. Then the eyes and ears are opened, and the milk teeth also come through. However, the visibility only comes from the 17th or 18th day. The increase in senses causes the puppies to begin to respond to their siblings, people, and the environment.

Their activity increases, even if they still sleep a lot. Since they move more, for example when they crawl backward, muscle production starts, and coordination also increases.

Also read: How to Train a Disobedient Dog

In addition, this phase of the puppy’s development is where the first socialization takes place, during which he has contact with the rest of the litter. A breeder can get the dog used to people by petting the dog regularly.

Fourth to Twelfth Week

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The socialization stage in puppy development

The most important in a young dog’s life is the socialization phase. Depending on the variety, this phase can last from the fourth to the sixteenth week.

This first sensory phase has a typical character and is decisive for learning. All stimuli from the environment (congeners, other living beings around him) that he encounters in a positive way in this phase are stored in his memory as normal. This security helps the dog to confidently take on new stimuli and situations.

Since from the seventh week the caution about new things increases, it is very important that he has already had as many new impressions as possible in the third to fifth week. Curiosity prevails at this stage and the learning already happens without the need for any special reward. As a result, a playful first training can be started early.

After about eight weeks, the puppy moves in with you. At that point, the socialization phase is far from over. It is precisely then that you take over the responsible task of letting your puppy get used to the new environment in a calm way and showing him as much as possible.


Puppies should already gain a lot of positive experiences and impressions from the breeder. Socialization should certainly be continued after entering the new home.

From the fourth month

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The young stage in puppy development

Now the next phase in the development of puppies: the youth phase. It starts when the teeth are exchanged and ends when the dogs reach sexual maturity (females in heat and males when they lift the paw). Depending on the variety, this can happen after 6 to 12 weeks. In this phase, there are no longer such characteristic changes as in the previous phases.

The strong growth of the first month is over and the puppies have reached about two-thirds of their adult size by the beginning of the phase. Especially the strength and motor skills are now increasing.

Loving and consistent upbringing

Even at this stage of puppy development, you should train your young dog playfully, but also consistently. You have to teach him to sit longer and longer and expand his motor skills. That way you provide a good foundation for a well-behaved dog.

What is also very normal behavior for dogs at this stage of their development is that they will look again and again where the boundary is. In this way, he learns to order and integrate the social structures in his environment. Loving and consistent leadership is also very important in daily life!

Often the second fear phase begins after about four months. Suddenly familiar stimuli from the environment are seen as dangerous. At this stage, calmly show your puppy that he can rely on you. Give him time to review the new situation in a relaxed manner and at his own pace.

From the sixth/twelfth month

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The adolescent phase

Depending on the breed, your dog will enter the adolescent phase after 6 to 12 months. This stage begins with sexual maturity and after about two years the dogs are mature.

The sexual maturity

The first part of this phase starts with sexual maturity and can last until the second year of life depending on the type of dog and breed. This part of puppy development is also known as puberty or youth.

Once the sex hormones become active for the first time, it is often difficult for young dogs to work with, as it is for young people in puberty. Suddenly you have a young dog that first learned all commands and maybe even a few tricks, but now does not even respond to ‘sit’.

Then it is important to stay relaxed and consistent. You can fall back on the relationship of trust that you have built up in the first few months. Practice the commands again in a loving way with your young dog.

Contact with other dogs is also important in this phase. Just do that as calmly as possible and make sure it doesn’t become a power contest. In any case, avoid contact with conflicts.

At this point, the young dog is slowly becoming an adult dog.

The ripening time

Depending on the variety, the so-called ‘ripening time’ starts after about two years. Sometimes the typical breed and character traits now become visible. Often there is divergent and conspicuous territorial behavior.

The hormone level stabilizes and with it the behavior towards conspecifics. Your dog no longer accepts just any dog ​​as a playmate and intrusive behavior is often punished.

From the third / fourth year

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The adult phase

Your dog is mature and stable in character and physical development. One-off negative events or experiences can generally no longer upset him. But even now consistent behavior by the boss remains necessary. Sometimes the dog will test whether the existing boundaries and rules still apply.

In general, the larger the breed, the later your dog will mature.


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