Puppy Development


Stage 1: 0 – 3 weeks                  

Pups are born with their eyes and ears closed and without any teeth.

The nervous system is developing and pups are totally dependent on

their mother.

Sleeping is important as puppies do most of their growing while

sleeping. Do not over-handle pups when very young.

Pups open their eyes at about 2 weeks of age and the ears start to

open at around 3 weeks of age.

Around 3 weeks the pups start to investigate their whelping box and

world and make vocal sounds - growling and little barks.  

Their mother should be fed twice daily and be on a high calcium diet

Worm mother and pups every 2 weeks – worming syrup for the pups and a worming tablet for the mother.


Stage 2: 3 – 7 weeks

Pups grow very quickly and learn how to interact with other pups and

older dogs.

Always supervise pups when they are with other dogs or children.

Pups learn from their mother - toileting away from the whelping box

and canine manners.

It is important that bitches with pups are in a calm and stress-free

environment. A calm mother will raise calm puppies while a fearful,

stressed mother will raise fearful,

stressed pups.  

Pups and their mother, should be wormed again at 4 weeks and 6 weeks of age. Pups receive their first vaccination at the age of 6 weeks and can also receive their microchip at 6 weeks of age.


Stage 3: 7 – 12 weeks

At 8 weeks of age, most pups are ready to leave the litter and settle into their new, forever home.

Pups are keen to learn and are ready for training by humans. During this ‘imprint’ stage it is important that pups continue to be socialised with other dogs and with more humans.

This is the time to start puppy training. Your local vet may run Puppy Schools to help you train your puppy and also give the pup the opportunigy to socialise with other puppies.

What a pup learns at this stage will stay with the pup for life. Always be calm, encouraging and positive.

Establish a good toilet training routine and never be harsh with your puppy if it has an accident.   

Pups must be vaccinated at 9 weeks and 12 weeks of age to protect it from viruses. One vaccination does not fully protect your pup.

Do not take your pup to the park or public areas until fully vaccinated. Parvovirus will rapidly kill puppies so never

place your pup on the ground in a public place or allow your pup to

come into contact with unvaccinated dogs.   

Teach your pup to wear a collar. Use a soft elastic cat collar so if

your pup happens to be caught by the collar when climbing or playing

it will slip over the head without choking the pup.Use a firmer collar

when training and make sure that you can put one finger between the

pup and the collar with the collar is fastened – any looser and the

pup will find it easy to slip the collar. Reward your pup with cuddles

and a positive tone of voice when it does what you ask.  

Also give your pup short periods of time alone so it learns to cope

being alone and does not develop separation anxiety. Make sure

your pup has plenty of clean water and  toys to play with and leave

the radio on (classical music is best) as it is soothing for the puppy.If you are to be away from the pup for long hours, make arrangements to leave you pup with family or a friend who likes dogs or enrole your puppy in Puppy Daycare. Pups are pack animals and do not cope well with loneliness.  

Your puppy will be teething at this stage and will bite and chew things. Make sure that safe things are provided for that purpose such as teething toys or raw brisket bones (which do not splinter) to chew on. Make sure the brisket bones are too large for your pup to swallow whole.

Keep your hands away from your pups mouth at this stage or they will chew on your hands. Distraction with an teething chew toy is far better than scolding!


Stage 4: 12 – 16 weeks 

This is when pups become adolescents. You may start to notice

some challenging behaviour, selective hearing and barking!

Keep to the same routine and the same rules. You are the boss –

you must be the leader of the pack.

Don’t be harsh with discipline. Be firm and consistent. Let your pup 

know that you are in charge and that you still love them even when

they have been naughty.    

Worm your pup at 12 weeks and at 3 monthly intervals for the rest of

its life.

Heartworm prevention can also be given. A once yearly vaccination

for Heartwom is available from your vet. By the age of 16 weeks the

pup should be fully vaccinated. The pup’s immune system is now

fully developed and it is easier to travel, go to the park and spend more time with other dogs.

Your male pup can be neutered at 16 weeks.


Stage 5: 17 – 40 weeks

Pups loose the last of their baby teeth in this stage.  By the age of 26 weeks the permanent incisors are usually all there so visit your vet to check if there are any retained baby teeth. Sometimes the baby tooth has not loosened and fallen out and the vet will need to remove the baby tooth. If the baby  tooth is not extracted the mouth bite can become crooked within weeks and the damage is permanent.

Your pup’s growth will slow and appetite change. Start introducing adult dog foods.

Keep routines stable and discipline firm but loving. Your pup will have loads of energy and will really look forward to walks and stimulating activities.

Around 24 weeks is the time for de-sexing (spaying) your female puppy.


Stage 6: 40 – 52 weeks

Your pup is now eating adult dog foods – no more puppy food.   

By the age of 12 months, small breed pups are physically mature.









Information contained in articles on this website are not to be used in place of veterinary care and expertise. No responsibilty can be accepted by the writer for the application of any of the enclosed information in practice.