Puppy Milestones: A Timeline of Puppy’s First Year

young border collie puppy running through a field with a stick in his mouth on a warm day

Puppy Milestones: A Timeline of Puppy’s First Year

New-born to 4 weeks: A Whole New World

Puppies are born blind and deaf, so they will explore the world through touch and smell. They will sleep for most of the day, only waking up to nurse. Sleep is critical for a new born puppies development.

Week 3 is when a puppy will begin to open his eyes and ears, as well as begin growing their baby teeth. By Week 4 he will start to take a few steps and learn to walk, gaining a new form of independence.

In the fourth week, solid food can be introduced to the puppy’s diet. Weeks three to four is also the time when the puppy will begin to have some control over his bladder and bowel movements, and will leave their sleeping area before relieving themselves.

4-8 Weeks: Socialising and New Home

This period is crucial for the puppy’s socialisation development, and it is important to let them get out and about and see as many different sights and sounds as possible. Your puppy will also begin to play and run around more, strengthening his muscles.

Although their vaccinations won’t be complete yet, you can still carry your puppy around so they will still be able to experience new sights. It’s not just about meeting new people and new dogs; it’s important your puppy sees and hears the environment around them.

Once the puppy is fully weaned at around week 8, they are ready to begin life in their new homes. This can be a fragile time for the puppy, as he is leaving everything he knows and heading to a strange new environment. He will need a lot of reassurance and comfort to prevent any anxiety developing when they are adults.

And don’t forget to start your puppy’s vaccinations. Consult with your local veterinarian about the right schedule for your pup.

9-12 Weeks: Time to Train

By week 9, your puppy has had a chance to settle into his new home and begin bonding with his new family. You can start teaching him some obedience training and basic commands. Starting young is ideal when it comes to dog training, and even training your puppy for a few minutes every day can go a long way. Teaching him these commands is paramount to his safety and the safety of other pets, as well as your relationship with him.

You can also begin his toilet training around this period. Patience and consistency are key throughout the potty training process, and could take several weeks to get right.

12-16 Weeks: Vaccines and New Haircut

Your puppy will be due his booster shots again around Week 12. New vaccines and boosters are given every 3–4 weeks until the puppy is 16–17 weeks old. Discuss with your vet the best schedule for your puppy, as every breed is different. Once he has been fully vaccinated, it is safe to venture outside and he can meet new doggies and explore new places.

Your puppy can also have his first grooming session. We would recommend his first visit to the groomers at around 14-16 weeks old, once he has received all this vaccinations. A puppy’s first trip to the grooming studio can be scary; for both puppy and puppy-parent. Arrange a first visit with your local Petmania where he will be gradually introduced to the sights, sounds and smells of our grooming studio.

4-7 Months: Chewing and Dental Care

Adult teeth start to develop between three and six months of age, and this is when your puppy will start to get those chewing urges. To prevent your furniture getting destroyed or worse, it’s important to puppy-proof your home. Hide or place out of reach anything you don’t want chewed or could cause a choking hazard. It would be a good idea to buy some chew toys during this period to satisfy his chewing urges.

You should also begin a dental care routine for your dog. Dogs love exploring the world through their mouth, so it’s important that their teeth and gums and properly cared for. Cleaning your dog’s teeth can help prevent issues like gingivitis and periodontal disease which can lead to serious health issues, as well as tooth loss.

5 Months: Meeting Other Puppies

You can begin to enrol your pup in training classes, provided he has been fully vaccinated. You may have taught him some basic commands already, but training classes are very beneficial to your pup’s social skills too. You can also learn some things too, such as keeping your puppy on a lead and to ‘read’ what your puppy is telling you and be able to recognise if they are anxious.

6 Months: Neutering/Spaying

At around the 6 month mark, you should begin to consider whether or not your puppy will get spayed or neutered. You should always discuss this with your vet first, and they can provide the best advice on this procedure.

Typically for male dogs, the surgery is performed around 6 months old, but a number of factors could influence this such as breed, behaviour and current health status. For female dogs, they can be spayed any time after 6 months of age. Once they have their first heat, you know they have reached maturity.

Consult with your vet if you have questions or concerns about neutering or spaying or puppy.

small puppy celebrating her first birthday with a party hat and some balloons

9-12 Months: Growing Up

Emotional maturity and temperament of an adult dog typically begin to develop in your puppy around the 9-12 month mark. Some puppy traits such as chewing and nipping could continue until they are around two years old. Rebellious or adolescent behaviour may decrease if training and boundaries have been established.

Your dog can continue to be fed puppy food twice a day until they’re at least a year old. If you have specific questions about your puppy’s diet, we always recommend to discuss them with your veterinarian.

1 Year: Happy Birthday!

Your puppy’s first birthday! Celebrate your dog’s first year with some toys and treats from your local Petmania store, and make sure to tag us in any photos from his big day on social media.


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