Puppies grow up so fast. You may be overwhelmed by adorable puppy energy today, but you won’t believe how soon your furry bundle of joy will grow into an adult dog.
As puppies pass through the stages of puppy development, they reach several important milestones. These are the moments in your puppy’s life you won’t want to miss.
1. Adoption Day (8 Weeks)
This one’s obvious: the first milestone you’ll witness is the day you bring your puppy home! When your puppy comes home for the first time, she’ll probably sleep. A lot. The first 24 hours with a new puppy are a time to relax, rest, and get ready for the months to come.
Of course, you get your puppy from a reputable breeder, you may visit her before she comes home and witness some earlier stages of development. For example, if you meet her when she’s four months old, you may see her first milk teeth coming in!
2. Vaccination Day (6-8 weeks)
Your puppy needs her first shots around 6 weeks, and round two comes just a few weeks later, with a few more rounds to follow! Check out this AKC guide to first-year puppy shots for more info.
Make your puppy’s vet experience positive with lots of praise and treats. The earlier you teach puppy to enjoy the vet, the easier visits will be when she grows into and adult dog! Preventative veterinary care will keep your puppy healthy and happy for years to come, so don’t miss out on these important health milestones.
3. Potty training success (8-12 weeks)
The first time your puppy asks to be let outside is a cause for celebration. Potty training takes patience and time, but it’s really not too hard. Click here for puppy training tips.
4. Recognizing their own name (3 months)
By the time your puppy is three months old, she’ll have about 90% of her adult brain mass and a host of new social and behavioral habits. One of the most exciting puppy milestones at this stage: responding to her own name!
Once your puppy knows her name, you can start pairing it with the “come” command. Start building recall skills early for more success later in life.
5. Meeting other dogs (3-4 months)
Before they get all their shots, puppies can’t visit dog parks or doggy daycare. But after they’re vaccinated, they’re ready to explore the world! No feeling compares to watching your furry friend meet furry friends of her own for the first time.
Puppies can meet vaccinated dogs in controlled environments any time, so it’s okay to invite friends over with their vaccinated dogs when your puppy is as little as 8 weeks old. But you should wait until one week after the last round of puppy shots to let your puppy mingle with strange dogs at the park.
6. Teething, chewing, and losing a tooth (4-7 months)
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As your puppy grows, her milk teeth fall out and her adult teeth grow in. During this stage, she’ll need plenty of chew toys and bones to keep her busy (and protect your shoes)!
Your puppy will start losing her baby teeth around age four months. Some people like to keep puppy teeth as souvenirs…you do you. By the time your puppy is seven months old, she’ll have a mouth full of shiny white adult teeth.
7. Puppy class (5 months)
Puppy training classes are the best way to build socialization, confidence, and obedience skills all at once. As soon as your puppy has all of her shots and can mingle with other dogs, sign up for a puppy class near you.
8. Sexual maturity: spay/neuter time! (6 months)
Most dogs reach sexual maturity around six months old. Sexual maturity is the physical stage at which a dog can physically sire or give birth to puppies. This is a good time to have your puppy spayed or neutered to prevent health problems and “surprise” litters.
It’s nerve-wracking to take your puppy for a surgical procedure. But remember: spay/neuter surgery is routine and safe. Talk to your veterinarian to make the right plan for your puppy.
9. Teenage behavior (9-12 months)
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During the adolescent period, your puppy may start pushing boundaries. Suddenly, their attention span seems shorter. They start to disobey commands. If they’re not fixed yet, they may show hormone-based behavioral changes.
The teenage phase can be rough, but hold strong! Keep socializing and training your dog. This stage challenges every dog person, but you’ll be grateful you stuck it out once it’s over.
10. The first birthday (1 year)
Now, this is a milestone worth celebrating. You made it through the first year of dog ownership! Your puppy doesn’t magically become an adult when they turn one year old. But by now, they’ve passed through the main stages of puppy development and are on their way to adulthood.
Whether you throw a party with canine friends or simply enjoy special moments at home together, celebrate your puppy’s milestones. You have a lifetime of memorable moments to come.
Featured image: flickr/haquintero