Hello Animal Lovers,

How have you been? I was so busy enjoying my last few weeks with my little princesses that I forgot to update you on their development. Alas, they’ve all gone on to their new forever homes. I’ll miss them dearly, but I know that they’ll be cherished and protected by their new families.

Now that the house is conspicuously absent of the pitter patter of little paws, I have plenty of time to tell you about weeks 8-16 of a puppy’s development. During these two months, puppies are still developing every day, albeit a bit more slowly. At this age, puppies are extremely excited to get to know their humans and give you lots of love and attention. One thing is for sure. Young puppies are extremely eager to please you, so raising one is FAR easier than you would think. All you need is patience, time, and lots of love!

Read the below segments to learn about puppies between the ages of 2 to 4 months.

8 Weeks – 10 Weeks

  • Your puppy is due for his first set of shots at 8 weeks.
  • House training begins – please remember that your puppy is a baby and is still learning.
    • Puppies quickly establish toileting habits so set up errorless potty-training from day one.
  • Your puppy should know his name and be responsive when you call him.
  • Your puppy can begin learning basic commands such as sit and come if he doesn’t know them already.
  • Begin basic leash training right away – keep it positive.
  • Your puppy will be your little shadow and follow you everywhere. You’re the center of his life at this point.
  • Your puppy’s first fear period may begin anywhere from 8 to 10 weeks – introduce all new experiences carefully and with lots of positives.
  • Your puppy is continuing to develop his brain and motor skills; he’s still clumsy but coordination is improving.
  • Puppies explore their world with their mouths; please have lots of safe and interesting chew toys on hand.

11 – 14 Weeks

  • Your puppy is due for his second set of shots at 11 Weeks.
    • Consider microchipping for safety.
  • Your puppy is slowly turning into a teething machine.
    • Invest in some bitter apple to protect your furniture and your hands.
    • Redirect those little needles to safe and healthy chew toys.
  • Teach your puppy to mouth gently so that he learns good bite inhibition.
    • Puppies need to learn that it’s not ok to hurt their humans with their teeth.
    • Yelp, cross your arms, and walk away from your puppy if he bites too hard.
  • House training is going strong (continue to take the puppy out at least every two hours)
  • Continue to work on leash training and basic obedience commands.
  • Your puppy is probably sleeping through the night in the crate or he soon will be.
  • Your puppy is due for his third set of shots at 14 weeks.
  • Consider enrolling your puppy in a positive reinforcement based training class.

16 Weeks (4 Months)

  • House training is just about complete. Congratulations for using consistent management and positive training techniques.
  • Your puppy can receive his rabies vaccination this week.
  • Some puppies will enter a second fear stage around this time period – keep new experiences positive.

Brief Puppy Raising Tips

Feeding Schedule: From 8 weeks to 16 weeks, your puppy will still need to be fed three meals a day. Their little systems still require frequent nourishment, because they can develop low blood sugar and dehydration easily at such a tender age. After 4 months of age, you can reduce meal times to breakfast and dinner only. Always provide fresh water.

Don’t Forget Rest: Despite being older, your puppy still needs around 20 – 22 hours of sleep in order to best develop his mind and body. I know puppies are adorable at this age and all you want to do is play with them and pamper them, but resist the temptation. Puppies are a lot like human babies in this respect, because if they don’t get enough rest, they’re certain to become overstimulated little terrors who act cranky and out of sorts.

Handling: It’s crucial to get your puppy used to being handled as a puppy. Gently massage his ears, paws, tail, belly, and head. Practice gently opening your puppy’s mouth and examining his teeth. Peek into your puppy’s ears and give them a good relaxing rub. Get your puppy used to being groomed with a soft puppy brush. Get your puppy used to having his nails clipped. Last but not least, get your puppy used to a nice gentle bath.

Socialization: Early socialization is critical. You want your puppy to be exposed to as many new people, textures, sounds, other animals, and environments as possible before 16 weeks of age. However, you must keep your puppy’s mental and physical health in mind. It’s very important that you don’t put your puppy down on the ground in public places until he’s had all three rounds of his shots. Additionally, you’ll want to keep your dog’s fear periods in mind when attempting to socialize him. Around 8-10 weeks you may start to notice that your puppy seems tentative and a little shy. That’s completely normal; he’s just entering a developmental phase called a fear period. Try to avoid loud noises or unnecessary stressful events during this time period and keep socialization as positive and fear free as possible. Please do not isolate your puppy because he’s fearful; it’s still critical to continue socializing your puppy during this tricky time. It’s just a good idea to avoid things that may cause permanent fears or anxieties. All new experiences during a fear period should be introduced in a light and non-threatening manner. It’s an excellent idea to use plenty of food and praise to help your puppy form healthy associations to new situations.

After around ten weeks, you’ll notice that your puppy doesn’t cling to you as much and isn’t as easily frightened. This is the perfect time to extend your puppy’s socialization. Introduce as many new experiences as you can. I encourage you to get your puppy to meet 100 new people by the time he’s four month’s old. You’ll also want to get your puppy used to going for long walks in the world at large as well as enjoying going for rides in the car. You can do it!

Management: The key to raising a happy puppy who understands and respects the rules of the house is to use effective management techniques. Don’t let your puppy have freedom in his new environment. If you cannot be actively watching your puppy, keep him in a crate or an exercise pen with a yummy chew toy. The key to developing good habits is to never let a puppy practice bad ones; management is everything. Between, management, consistency, and lots of love, you’ll have all the ingredients that you need for a well-trained puppy. Remember to take a deep breath and tell yourself that a puppy mistake is really an owner mistake. Puppies can only make mistakes if they aren’t being managed properly. To change a puppy’s behavior, it’s usually easiest to start by changing your own.

Training: Yes, it is ok to start training puppies this young. In fact, the obedience commands you teach them now will be their default behaviors later in life. Behaviors taught when a puppy is this young tend to be very strong and reliable commands. So grab some treats and train, train, train. In addition to food rewards, use your voice to reinforce desired behaviors. When your puppy pleases you, talk in an exaggerated and happy voice to let your puppy know how proud you are. Conversely, when your puppy does something wrong, please don’t hit. Simply deepen your voice and “bark” at him. Puppies respond naturally to your tone of voice at this age. Just remember to keep it positive and fun!

If you want to learn more about raising a puppy, Mom says that you should read Perfect Puppy in Seven Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right by Sophia Yin and Before and After Getting Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar.

My next post will be all about potty-training your puppy, so please stop by and feel free to ask questions or leave comments.

Until next time,

The Dog That Blogs