Welcoming a new puppy home is an exciting and rewarding time. Whether it’s your first furkid, or your second, there’s an important period of adjustment for you and your cuddly new addition. As a doting parent, you invest in a bevy of puppy supplies — a comfy dog bed, puppy pads, a kong, chew toys, grain-free puppy kibble, baby gate, an assortment of crunchy and chewy treats, outfits, accessories, poop bags, gadgets, and an arsenal of cleaning supplies.
Most dogs are considered puppies from birth to one year of age and go through several distinct stages of development. Understanding your puppy's growth stages in their first 12 months can help you create a stronger bond and develop a best friend for life. Trupanion, the leading medical insurance for pets, and a Petcube Care partner has this guide on puppy’s first year.
Puppy Care Stages
Many changes take place in the first year of a puppy’s life. Puppies go from a relatively helpless neonate who cannot see or hear to a fully grown, sexually mature adult dog in less than 12 months.
Read more: How to Puppy-Proof Your House
There are about 5 main stages of puppy development. Each of these stages come with its particular care requirements.
Birth to 4 weeks — Provide warmth and Nutrition
During this time, puppies are most influenced by their mother and littermates. While touch and taste are present at birth, at around two to four weeks old eyes open, baby teeth break out, and they develop their hearing and sharp sense of smell.
In most cases, humans will simply watch the mother dog provide all necessary care for her puppies. However, if the puppy in your care has been separated from his mother, you are to make sure it stays warm and fed in order to grow and gain weight properly.
4 weeks to 3 months — Plan your first vet visit
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.
Week eight is about right 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 Trupanion (ask your veterinarian about an Exam Day Offer!). Hopefully, they stay out of trouble, but medical insurance may come in handy as your pup explores, chews, and grows.
3 to 6 months — Start puppy training
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!
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 could become territorial. This is normal, so remain patient and diligent in training.
6 to 9 months — Consider spaying or neutering
Both male and female puppies can become sexually active and show sexual behavior, so now is a good time to decide if you’re spaying or neutering. Females can get pregnant during their first heat, usually around six months old.
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.
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.
9 to 12 months — Keep up the routine!
While both have more growing to do physically, puppies from larger breeds will continue to act more like puppies until about 18 months old, and pups from smaller breeds will have socially matured by about 12 months old.
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.
Continue engaging your pup in activities, keeping them excited and happy as they keep learning, growing, and loving you!
See the infographic at trupanion.com.
Never Miss A Moment
As you go through these puppy development stages with your furbaby, you appreciate all that goes into pawrenthood. So snap all those pics and text those adorable video clips of your pup doing gosh-darn silly things.
At any stage, a Petcube pet camera can help you monitor and check in on your baby throughout the day, not to miss a moment. While you’re at the office, you keep close tabs and make sure everything is as it should be at home, as well as catch adorable and naughty moments.
Consider Pet Insurance
As your pup matures into a well-adjusted dog about town, your furkid will always rely on you to make the best decisions for it. With all the unknowns out there - accidental ingestion of things, unexpected injuries, general illness, and breed-specific ailments and conditions - you want to arm yourself with the best possible options when it comes to your pet’s health like finding the right vet and enrolling in medical insurance for your pet.
Trupanion is a model medical insurance provider, covering 90% of actual veterinary costs. So if you find yourself wondering about the ‘what ifs’ and unknowns, then plan wisely. As with all US insurance options, pre-existing conditions are excluded. So, it’s another reason to make savvy choices in your pup’s first year.
10/30 Day Petcube Care members are eligible for 6% off Trupanion monthly insurance when they sign up for Trupanion through Petcube.