There’s not many things cuter than an itty bitty puppy! You discover this when you open that big red box with a pretty white bow and a puppy pops out! Most people will “ahh” and “oooh”, hug it, kiss it and cuddle it like a baby. It takes about a good three hours before you realize that the gift you were just given is now yours and so is the work! Yeah it’s a gift and let’s be honest a very cute one at that, but is it really a gift when you will be inheriting the duties of taking care of it? And how do you say “hold up, wait a minute” when those little puppy eyes are looking up at you desperate for your love and care? It’s my prayer for you that Waldo was on your wishlist, he or she the type of dog you’d like to have, fits into your family and that it came with the proper puppy gear.
A new puppy will soon be a full grown dog. In the first year of your puppy’s life, there will be the majority of milestones and after its first year, your dog will be the equivalent of an eight year old child. How you train and discipline your puppy will determine the type of behavior your dog will display for years to come. Whether you decide to self train or seek a professional, there are definite rules to the game. Here are the things that you should consider during the first year of transition from puppy to dog. It is important to realize that every puppy develops differently, however there are definite goals and expectations that you can expect to see in the development of your new family member.
2 months – 4 months
- Socialize your puppy with people and other pets. The introduction to new people, places and things are fun and your puppy will love new experiences.
- Enjoy playtime with your puppy, but establish play and rest times. Your puppy will require a high level of rest so play and rest will be a very important routine.
- It’s teething time so, direct your puppy to the appropriate toys to gnaw on. Purchase items that are designed to help with the discomfort that it will experience.
- Your puppy should visit the veterinarian for its second round of shots and a check up.
- Patterns are being established with meals, potty times and sleep routines, consistency is vital. It is tasking to keep up with reprimanding and shaping your puppy’s behavior but it is necessary to the betterment of the puppy and family members .
- You may choose to crate train your puppy, meaning that when not training, playing, eating and potty times, the puppy will remain in a confined area. This helps to set proper schedules and routines with things such as sleep and outdoor activities. In addition, your puppy will begin to look at this important place as a safe haven.
- Basic commands should be introduced and your puppy is learning its name, how to retrieve toys, simple commands like sit, stay, down… The amount of time you spend working with your puppy, will have a direct impact on how well your puppy progresses.
- This is the best time period for you to begin training so be firm and consistent. Your puppy will respect you and your relationship will begin to develop positively when you engage with a stern but loving demeanor. Setting expectations for your puppy is the beginning of it learning the house and family rules.
4 months – 6 months
- Your puppy has a great understanding of who’s in charge and dominance is understood. Know that your puppy will continually try to challenge your authority, this is a good sign and is a demonstration of your puppy’s growth in independence. Stay confident in your role and this will restablish the chain of authority.
- If you have been consistent, your puppy is potty trained. Occasional accidents may occur and these are great learning and teaching opportunities. Be patient once your puppy gets the hang of it, accidents will happen because of you and not the puppy!
- Patterns have been established and routines have been adopted so it is best to stay consistent so that your puppy is not receiving mixed signals. It is hard to be consistent but in the end you will be happy you were.
- Your puppy’s curiosity has set in and it’s around this time that confidence is also beginning to peak. Make sure to keep hazardous items out of reach. Reintroducing boundaries may be necessary and should be fairly easy.
- Your puppy knows the family, frequent friends and other pets in its daily circle and enjoys the socialization. Teach your pet proper greeting skills and enforce them!
- Try to establish normal talking tone, pitch and words while communicating with your pet. It is remarkable how much your puppy will begin to understand if you speak naturally. One word commands are helpful in learning vocabulary. “Stop” and “sit” will later turn into “Waldo stop that and sitdown”.
6 months – 8 months
- Your puppy’s motor skills and coordination are being tested. Awkwardness and clumsiness are normal while your puppy is growing and developing.
- Attention span, comprehension and cognitive skills are on the rise and your puppy is enjoying the learning process. This is an exciting time for your puppy and it is still getting adjusted to the environment and its ever changing physical stature.
- Housebreaking is pretty much complete and your puppy is able to communicate its needs and wants to you.
- Your puppy is becoming well adjusted and feels like a member of the family. The more you involve your pet in family activities, the better it will behave and understand normal expectations.
- Fear has come into your puppy’s existence. Reassurance of safety is all that is necessary. The crate or safe area that you created earlier will ease this feeling for your puppy and you may see a retreat to this place without your direction.
- Snapping and biting are behaviors that should be dealt with right away to prevent this behavior from persisting. Many puppies express their love and happiness through this behavior, however it is recommended that you discourage this form of expression.
- Gnawing may return for a short time, continue to provide your puppy with the appropriate chew toys or you and your family will lose many shoes and other valuables.
8 months – 10 months
- During this time your puppy is becoming independent and self assured, it is a great time to work on more advanced training skills and fun activities. Pleasing you is highly important to your puppy and recognizing this positive behavior will encourage continuous efforts of pleasing you.
- Fear and insecurity have decreased and your puppy has gone back to feeling well adjusted and in control.
- The difference between right and wrong have been established and your puppy is well aware of both. Challenge in your leadership position is normal and requires a reestablishment of ranking and should not be overlooked or dismissed.
- Motor skills and coordination have increased, Your puppy is very playful at this time and may not fully understand its limitations. Time and practice will help in the development in these areas.
- Sexual behavior may be an issue during this time. A conversation with your vet regarding neutering and spaying options is suggested at this time.
10 months – 1 year
- Your puppy has hit its stride and is at another level of cuteness in appearance and personality. There is more feeling of being apart of the family, understanding roles and a higher level of confidence than ever before.
- Your puppy should be demonstrating appropriate behavior with the family and others while recognizing consistent faces and acknowledging strangers. Most will be very protective of the home and will establish itself as the gatekeeper of the house and family.
- Routines and habits should be established, your older puppy should understand commands, know mealtimes, be housebroken and sleep on the proper schedule. Your puppy still needs plenty of rest, so snoozing during the day is perfectly normal.
- Boundaries should have been set and your puppy should definitely understand the lines that you have created. Perhaps there are areas that are off limits or behavior like jumping on guests that are not tolerated. Again, consistency in reprimanding negative behavior will payoff in years to come.
- Your puppy should have complete understanding of its surroundings and understand how to behave when away from home and in other environments.