Your Puppy’s First Year

Is there anything sweeter than puppy love? Your puppy’s first year will bring with it lots of joy and some sweet milestones.

Your new pup will give you tons of laughs, love, and puppy play. With your patience and consistent training, they’ll learn their bond with you and their new pack, and you’ll develop a best friend for life. So while your veterinarian will help you learn the specific needs of your furry friend, most puppies follow some common life stages.

Congratulations on your new puppy!

Birth to 4 weeks:

During this time, puppies are most influenced by their mother and litter mates. While touch and taste are present at birth, at around two weeks old eyes open, at 4 weeks baby teeth erupt, and they develop their hearing and sharp sense of smell.

4 weeks to 3 months:

At about eight weeks old, your puppy will be ready to go home with you. By this time, they’ve developed some social skills, an inhibited bite, and physical coordination. They may show signs of fear, so give them lots of positive training to help them overcome it.

Prepare – Time to take your pup to the veterinarian! Discuss the best puppy food, feeding schedule and training tips. This is the ideal time to enroll your new family member with a pet insurance company. Hopefully they stay out of trouble, but medical insurance may come in handy as your pup explores, chews, and grows.

4 to 6 months:

As your puppy begins teething, they’ll likely feel the need to chew a lot to relieve the irritation in their gums. Provide lots of acceptable chew toys to avoid too much unwanted chewing on household items.

At four months old, they may experience another fear stage. Continue the positive training and they’ll outgrow it in no time!

Socialize – Social relationships start to become clear as they learn their place in the pack. This will include other animals in the home and you! They may challenge relationships and become territorial. This is normal, so remain patient and diligent in training.

6 to 9 months:

Both male and female puppies can become sexually active and show sexual behaviors, so now is a good time to decide if you’re spaying or neutering. Females can get pregnant once they’ve had their first heat, usually by about 8-9 months of age.

Expect your pup to continue testing or reinforcing their status in the household. They may become less interested in pleasing you, but it’s all part of their development.

Explore – They will likely go through another chewing phase as they explore their environment, which could result in ruined dog toys and damaged household objects. Don’t worry, they will outgrow it, but have lots of chew toys on-hand.

10 to 12 months:

Puppies from larger breeds will continue to act more like puppies up until about 18 months, and pups from smaller breeds will have socially matured by about 12 months.

With proper training and clear boundaries, your pup will start settling into their place in the pack without the need to continue testing rules and limitations.

Engage – Continue engaging your pup in activates, keeping them excited and happy as they keep learning, growing and loving you!