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Growing Pains: A Guide to Canine Development

Whether you're raising a puppy or you've adopted an adult dog, it is important to understand that critical life skills can be impacted by early-life events. Having a good understanding of these early stages & their impact on development will allow you to set realistic expectations and be ready for the challenges that can come with owning a dog.

THE FIVE STAGES OF GROWTH

Knowing these stages can help you better understand your dog's needs at each stage and how to properly care for them as they mature. It's important to remember that every puppy is different and may go through these stages at a different pace. With patience, love, and proper care, you can ensure that your puppy has a happy and healthy life.


Day 1 - 14

NEONATAL STAGE

Puppies are dependent on their mother and unable to hear, see or thermoregulate.They spend most of their time sleeping or nursing.


Day 13-21

TRANSITIONAL STAGE

Puppies begin to see, hear, stand, and start walking. They are interested in exploring, playing & chewing and their learning abilities are established.


Week 3-12

SOCIALIZATION STAGE

Puppies start to explore their environment and learn about the world around them, forming relationships with humans and other animals. Learn more about socialization and why it is one of the most important stage's of your dog's development.


Week 12 - Year 2

JUVENILE STAGE

Puppies start to mature and become more independent. They are highly impressionable and honing their motor & social skills


Year 2+

ADULT STAGE

Most dogs are fully developed by about 2 years old and the socialization window closes. But they can continue to mature & learn new skills long into their adult years


A NOTE ON HOW GENETICS INFLUENCE YOUR DOG'S DEVELOPMENT

Knowing what your dog was bred for is incredibly useful in understanding their natural physical and behavioral traits. Genetics play a major role in determining a dog’s behavior, as certain genetic traits are passed down from generation to generation. For example, if your dog was bred to be a guard dog, they may naturally be territorial and more protective of their family. Or if they were bred as a working or herding dog, they may have a strong work ethic and a desire to please. By knowing the breed of your dog, you can better equip yourself to provide them with the proper training, exercise, and nutrition that they need.


 

About the Author: Ashley Diaz is a dedicated pet owner and animal lover with over 10 years of experience providing professional pet care. With certifications in applied animal behavior & training, she shares her knowledge and insights on pet ownership, behavior, and welfare in her blog. Outside of her work with animals, Ashley enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, practicing yoga and playing the piano.

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