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.