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What are the Typical Stages of Puppy Behavior?

Puppy behavior evolves through distinct stages, from the neonatal period, where they're entirely dependent on their mother, to the socialization phase, where play and exploration are key. As they grow, puppies enter a 'juvenile' stage, learning boundaries and commands. Understanding these phases is crucial for effective training and bonding. How does each stage shape your puppy's personality? Continue reading to discover more.
Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

Although each dog is a unique individual, just as each human is a unique individual, most dogs experience a typical stage of puppy behavior at least every few months as they grow from puppy hood into adulthood. These stages relate to the social lessons the puppy learns from his or her mother and siblings at a very young age. Moreover, a breeder who allows the puppies to interact with family members can help them behave better towards adults and children.

The neonatal period for puppies is between birth and three weeks of age. The puppy's eyes do not open until it is about three weeks old. Between four and seven weeks, the puppy has already learned from its mother that broken eye contact means the other dog is the leader. This is a crucial and typical stage of puppy behavior. The mother dog uses different tones of voice such as whimpering and growling sounds to mean different things that let the puppy know when to be gentle and when to be quiet.

All puppies go through a chewing stage.
All puppies go through a chewing stage.

A puppy that is taken from its mother before six or seven weeks of age is likely to seem out of control and bark too much. A properly socialized puppy in the between six and eight weeks of age is neither too aggressive nor too passive. Aggressive puppy behavior may include biting, snapping or baring teeth and growling, while passive behavior may involve cowering from touch and withdrawing from social contact.

The period between birth and three weeks of age is known as the neonatal period in puppies.
The period between birth and three weeks of age is known as the neonatal period in puppies.

Puppies at the typical stage of puppy behavior between six and eight weeks of age are already beginning to think in terms of pack behavior. They begin to compete with their siblings for their place in the pack order. They vie for their mother's attention as she is the leader of the pack, unless perhaps the father dog is there also.

Typical puppy behavior between eight and 11 weeks of age is very important as any fearful incidents the puppy experiences at this stage may last into adulthood. For example, if a large object falls on the puppy during this period, the puppy will remember it and could become unrealistically afraid of similar objects that are not in danger of falling on it.

Aggressive puppy behavior may include biting.
Aggressive puppy behavior may include biting.

Between three and four months of age, the puppy usually experiences an independent streak as it continues to fight for its place in the pack. The puppy will think of all its human family, even children, as members of its pack. It is important to have children enter and exit the home before the puppy on family outings so that the puppy learns his or her place is after the children. The puppy continues to explore its independence and typically has a lot of energy as it reaches the adolescent stage between nine and 12 months.

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Discussion Comments


Icecream17 - I recently read that puppy chewing was related to boredom and wanting more attention. A great way to remedy the problem is to give you puppy some toys that are appropriate for his size and maybe some chew bones like Dingo’s Dental Stick which not only cleans the dogs teeth but it entertains them as well.

You can also buy a product called Kong that has a rubber exterior and allows you to put the treat on the inside.

It takes a while for the dog to get the treat out and at the same time they get to chew on the rubber item. It keeps them entertained for a while and it is really inexpensive.


SauteePan - I agree with you. I also wanted to add that stores like Pets Supermarket offer classes on puppy training in their stores.

The program runs for about six weeks and there is a dog trainer that helps you reinforce the techniques learned in the class that you can use when you go home.

They also offer general courses on dog behavior and puppy aggression. They explain how puppy aggression often leads to puppy biting and show you how to stop the behavior.

The puppy course addresses proper socialization and uses positive reinforcement in order to get the puppy to continue with the desired behavior.

Puppy obedience training can seem overwhelming at first but it is nice that the store offers this type of orientation.

They also provide an online quiz to determine which class is best for you and your dog because they have over six different classes to choose from.


I think puppies are so cute. Now I understand why some puppies are a bit more aggressive than it others.

I think that the biggest challenge regarding having a new puppy has to be the puppy housebreaking training.

Puppy obedience training takes time and patience. When my dog was a puppy I used newspaper as well a crate when I was not home.

This showed the puppy that the newspaper was an acceptable place for him to relieve himself. You really have to be consistent with the puppy crate training because if not the puppy will become confused and go all over the house.

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    • All puppies go through a chewing stage.
      By: Willee Cole
      All puppies go through a chewing stage.
    • The period between birth and three weeks of age is known as the neonatal period in puppies.
      By: CPJ Photography
      The period between birth and three weeks of age is known as the neonatal period in puppies.
    • Aggressive puppy behavior may include biting.
      By: Remus Moise
      Aggressive puppy behavior may include biting.