We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Typical Stages of Puppy Behavior?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Mar 05, 2024
Our promise to you
AllThingsNature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At AllThingsNature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main stages of puppy development?

Puppy development typically progresses through several key stages: the Neonatal period (0-2 weeks), where puppies are mostly blind and deaf; the Transitional period (2-4 weeks), when they start to open their eyes and ears; the Socialization period (4-12 weeks), crucial for exposure to new experiences; the Juvenile period (3-6 months), where rapid growth and learning occur; the Adolescent period (6-18 months), characterized by increased independence and hormonal changes; and finally, the Adult stage, which begins around 18 months when they reach social maturity.

At what age do puppies begin to socialize, and why is it important?

Puppies begin to socialize during the Socialization period, which spans from about 4 to 12 weeks of age. This stage is critical for their development because it's when they learn to interact with other dogs, humans, and their environment. Proper socialization can help prevent behavioral issues later in life and ensures that the puppy grows into a well-adjusted adult dog.

How does play behavior change as a puppy grows?

Play behavior evolves as puppies grow. During the early weeks, play is limited due to limited mobility, but as they enter the Socialization period, play becomes more complex, involving chasing, pouncing, and wrestling. This helps them learn social cues and physical coordination. As they reach adolescence, play can become more boisterous and may include testing boundaries, necessitating consistent training and socialization to manage their energy and enthusiasm.

When do puppies typically start teething, and how does it affect their behavior?

Puppies typically start teething around 3 to 6 months of age. This process can affect their behavior as it can be uncomfortable, leading to increased chewing, biting, and sometimes even a decrease in appetite. Providing appropriate chew toys and monitoring their comfort can help alleviate the discomfort associated with teething.

What behavioral changes can be expected during the adolescent stage?

During the adolescent stage, which starts around 6 months and can last until the dog is about 18 months old, owners can expect increased independence, a testing of boundaries, and a surge in hormonal activity. This can result in selective hearing, increased energy levels, and potential territorial or aggressive behaviors. Consistent training and positive reinforcement are key to managing these changes.

How can an owner support their puppy through each stage of behavioral development?

An owner can support their puppy through each stage of development by providing a safe and nurturing environment, consistent training, and socialization opportunities. During the early stages, gentle handling and exposure to mild stimuli are beneficial. As the puppy grows, introducing them to various people, pets, and environments will help with social skills. Consistent training and positive reinforcement throughout all stages reinforce desired behaviors and strengthen the bond between the puppy and the owner.

AllThingsNature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By GreenWeaver — On Mar 02, 2011

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.

By icecream17 — On Mar 02, 2011

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.

By SauteePan — On Feb 27, 2011

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.

AllThingsNature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

AllThingsNature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.