Important Milestones in Puppy Development

Do this: Put your hand on your chest. Feel a heartbeat? Good. That means you’ll probably experience exactly the same “non tin-man” sense do when you pick up your new best friend from your chosen breeder. If you get that puppy and you don’t think it’s the cutest damned thing in the world, check to see if the ol’ ticker is still chuggin’ away.

Face it. That small baby, puppy breath and all, will grow into a great gun dog. But right now, enjoy the spirit that you’re about to take home. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Getting Started

Go ahead. Futz around with the tiny speck of life for a couple of days. Bond. You are now the only thing that matters. But soon, you’ll need to begin to become what Cesar Millan calls the “pack leader.” You are mom, the alpha unit in their shaping minds. Don’t be too bossy. And always show the love and serenity. That bundle of joy will become a true companion when you take to the fields, forests and wetlands.

How the munchkin grows depends on its family line. But you’re the one that can stop external behavior problems by doing the right thing in the puppy’s first 12 weeks of its innocent life.

What Happens When

Once its mom and pop decide to have a littler is when it all begins. That’s why you want to see the history of the parents from the breeder. The parents pass-on genetics to the dog that you can’t do anything about.

There’s no magic book that determines the genetics of the offspring. Breeders do their best to be perfect matchmakers, but it’s always going to be a crap-shoot. It’s not like rocket surgery. Fingers are crossed by breeders until arthritis sets in with the folks your getting the bundle from.


You’re not going to have anything but a goofy wanderer until about 2-weeks into fresh air time. The eyes are closed, the hearing is not developed. The nose is basically what gets the pup to navigate the blanket where the bitch has designated as home base.

They experience no fear until they’re around 6-weeks old. It’s a shame, but that just has to happen. Boo! Sooner-or-later they realize that certain things around them are not to be messed with.

That’s why the breeder keeps the pup near momma for a couple of months. She’s going to act as their guide. As someone who has their eye on a particular sweetie, you need to visit the brood every few days — especially paying attention to the one you want to make “your dog.” As a future owner, handle them gently, let them smell you. Since this is a no-fear zone, they will associate you with being a good guy or gal while they are the most receptive.

You’re Turn is Coming

After about 7 weeks, just around the time you pick ‘em up and expose them to a new environment, your job is about to kick into gear. You never want to take a puppy away from momma before the 7th or 8th week. This could cause behavioral problems you want to avoid.


Anyway, their mother will start weaning them at the 7 week mark. Solid food comes into play. Mom can step back to a little more of a normal life. As she does, the petite darlings will usually follow their parent’s lead, wobbling around the house or the yard. Fighting with each other, too. The breeder will not step into to break-up a match. The mother of the canines needs to handle this delicate situation if it gets too hot-and-heated.

Heading Home

Set-up an appointment with your vet ASAP. There are things you need to know that the doctor can guide you through. If they haven’t gotten their shots or need a follow-up stick in the butt, this first visit will take care of that task. Don’t worry about the prick of the needle. The pup just thinks it’s weird and immediately forgets it.

Get some advice on the best kinds of food to feed the mutt. Ask about supplements. Check to see if anything sticks-out to the vet. Then make another appointment at the recommended time in the future.

The smart money waits until their 12-week birthday and then, seriously, enrolls the fuzz-ball into dog training and obedience class. While you can actually teach an old dog new tricks, this time is optimal.

Through training, they will get social skills with other pups and their owners. Never forget to take the buddy to areas where there are other people. Most likely they won’t get spooked. If they do, mention that to the dog trainer. If they stay cool and enjoy the attention, you’re well on your way to raising a friendly genius with a tail.

Reminder: Periodically check to see if your heart is still beating. That will tell you that you need to continue to give the love, have the patience and discover that under your roof, you’ve got the greatest pal you’ve ever had in your life.

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