Developmental Stages


0 to 7 WeeksNeonatal, Transition,

Awareness, and Canine


Puppy is with mother and littermates.  During this period, puppy learns about social interaction, plan, and inhibiting aggression from mother and littermates.  Puppies must stay with their mother and littermates during this critical period if possible.  Puppies learn the most important lesson in their lives – they learn to accept discipline.
7 to 12 WeeksHuman Socialization Period The puppy now has the brain waves of an adult dog, but his attention span is short.  This period is when the most rapid learning occurs.  Learning at this age is permanent so this is a perfect time to start training.  Also this is the ideal time to introduce the puppy to things that will play an important part in his life.  Introduce the puppy to different people, places, animals, and sounds in a positive, non-threatening way.
8 to 11 WeeksFear Imprint Period Avoid frightening the puppy during this period.   Any traumatic, frightening or painful experience will have a more lasting effect on the puppy than if it occurred at any other time in it’s life.
13 to 16 WeeksSeniority Classification Period

or The Age of Cutting

Puppy cuts teeth and apron strings!  Puppy begins testing who is going to be pack leader.  You must discourage any and all biting because such biting can be a sign of dominance.  It is important that you are a strong and consistent leader.  If formal training is planned, this is the time to begin.  Such training will help you establish your leadership.
4 to 8 Months 

Play Instinct PeriodFlight Instinct Period

Puppy may wander and ignore you.  It is very important that you keep the puppy on a leash at this time.  The way you handle the puppy at this time determines if the puppy will come to you when called.  At about 4-1/2 months, the puppy loses his milk teeth and get his adult teeth.  That’s when puppy begins serious chewing.  A dog’s teeth don’t set in his jaw until between 6 and 10 months.  During this time, the puppy has a physical need to exercise his mouth by chewing.
6 to 14 Months 

Second Fear Imprint Periodor Fear of New Situations


Dog again shows fear of new situations and even familiar situations.  Dog may be reluctant to approach someone or something new.   It is important that you are patient and act very matter of fact in these situations.  Never force the dog to face the situation.  Do not pet the frightened puppy or talk in soothing tones.  The puppy will interpret such responses as praise for being frightened.  Training will help improve the dog’s confidence.
1 to 4 Years 

Maturity Period

You may encounter increased aggression and renewed testing for dominance.  Continue to train your dog during this period.