8 Week Old Puppy Development - What To Expect

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8 week puppy development - thepetjourney

Puppy Development 8 Weeks to 12 Weeks

The day’s finally come and you’ve just brought your new puppy home. Hopefully, you’ve got everything you need for your new dog. But there’s still time to check out our in-depth puppy preparation guide if you don’t.


There’s a lot for your puppy (and you!) to learn during the 8 weeks to 12 weeks old development stage, so you’ve got your work cut out for you. It can feel a little overwhelming, but our guide should help you understand how to care for your new pup

8-Week-Old Puppy Schedule

Establishing a routine with your puppy is helpful as it gives them structure and helps them know what to expect each day. Here’s a schedule you could use for your puppy, but feel free to make some adjustments to better suit your lifestyle and daily routine.

Time of day (Hour)Activity
7amPotty break
8amMeal and activity
9amPotty break and sleep
11amPotty break and sleep
1pmMeal, potty break, and activity
3pmPotty break and sleep
6pmPotty break, meal, and activity
8pmActivity until bedtime
10pmPotty break and bedtime
2amPotty break
Ask the Vet - What are the benefits of keeping to puppy schedule?

Ask the Vet - What are the benefits of keeping to puppy schedule?

"A puppy who follows a familiar schedule knows what is needed from them. They are more confident and calm. Without a schedule, you may find your pup is unsettled and struggles to sleep well at night. Remember, a schedule doesn’t mean we plan every minute of the day. However, giving some structure to the day is important"
- Dr Linda Simon MVB MRCVS

puppy asleep on bed
The Vet's top tip - 8 week old puppies

The Vet's top tip - 8 week old puppies

"When you first take your puppy home, it is best not to abruptly change their diet. Doing so is a recipe for an upset stomach. Stick to the breeder’s food for a week at least. If you do wish to change the puppy food, make the transition over 5 days or so and keep an eye out for any runny stool, vomiting or wind (flatulence)."
- Dr Linda Simon MVB MRCVS

8-week-old puppy training

You can start training your puppy as soon as they come home, particularly when it comes to housebreaking. Opting to crate train your pup makes potty training your pooch easier, as dogs are reluctant to soil close to where they sleep.


Watch: 5 Puppy training tips

8-Week-Old Puppy Potty Training Basics

Housetraining your puppy takes patience and consistency, so try to get them on a regular routine for feeding, playing, and bathroom breaks. At 8 weeks old, dogs can only hold their bladder for a couple of hours. It isn’t until they are around 16 weeks old when they have full control of their bladder.


Let your puppy go outside around every 2 hours and immediately after eating, waking up, and playing. Select a spot outside that you’d like your puppy to do their business on. Each time you take them outside to eliminate, go to that spot (make sure they’re on a leash!).


As your puppy is peeing or pooping, use a word or phrase such as “go potty”. With time, your pup will associate that phrase with using the bathroom, which is useful for reminding them if they get distracted by a smell or noise.


Praise or give your puppy a treat each time they successfully eliminate outside. Make sure you do this as soon as they have relieved themselves, not once they are back inside. You need to reward your dog for going outdoors, not for coming back into the house!


Housetraining your dog goes much smoother if they are on a regular feeding schedule. By feeding your pup at the same times each day, they’ll be more likely to eliminate at the same times each day too.

puppy potty training

8-Week-Old Puppy Crate Training Basics

Crate training your puppy is worth doing as it provides your dog with a safe area to retreat to when they’re upset or tired and makes toilet training simpler. But unless your pup’s previous owner used a crate, they’re probably going to need a few lessons.


First, place the crate in a location that’s away from direct sunlight and put your dog’s bed or some blankets inside to make it look more inviting. Keep the door on the crate wide open and allow your dog some time to investigate the new object.


If your puppy sniffs or goes inside the crate, reward them but don’t close the door. Let them exit and enter the crate freely so they don’t get spooked.


Once your puppy has been introduced to the crate, you can start putting toys and treats inside, or even feed them in there. Drape a thick blanket or towel over all sides of the crate except for the door, as this will make the crate feel more secure.


When your pooch is comfortably using the crate, begin closing and locking the door for short periods while you are in the same room. You can gradually increase the time your puppy is inside the crate, slowly building up to you leaving the room while they are still inside. Eventually, you can start leaving the house with your dog inside the crate.

Ask the Vet - How much sleep does my 8 week puppy need?

Ask the Vet - How much sleep does my 8 week puppy need?

"Puppies love to sleep. It is perfectly normal for an 8 week old pup to be sleeping for 16 to 20 hours a day. Much like babies, this won’t be all in one chunk, but spread out throughout the 24 hours. When awake they should be active and playful. "
- Dr Linda Simon MVB MRCVS

8 week puppy biting

Biting and mouthing is normal for puppies, but it’s something that you need to correct early on. You don’t want your companion reaching adulthood and still thinking it’s appropriate to bite, especially around strangers.


Your pup is more likely to nip if they have been rewarded for it in the past. That’s why you should avoid letting your pup nibble your hands when you’re playing with them.


Make sure you provide your puppy with plenty of chew toys. If they start using their teeth on your skin or clothes, try and distract them with a toy. Halting all interaction with your puppy when they begin to bite is much more effective than yelling or pushing them away.


Your dog might mistake these actions for a game and start biting harder or more often. Turn away from your puppy when they bite and tuck in your arms and legs.


If that doesn’t work and your puppy is still biting you, stand up and walk away from them. You might need to leave the room for a few seconds. Your puppy should start to get the idea that biting results in no attention and the play session being cut short.

puppy biting behaviour

Read our guide on what to do if your 8 week puppy is breathing fast in its sleep – what to look out for.

8-Week-Old Feeding

Between 8 weeks to 12 weeks of age, most puppies should be fed 3 times per day. Each meal should be spread out evenly and at the same time each day.


Depending on your puppy’s breed and size, the amount they eat and drink will differ. Most commercial puppy foods will have a recommended feeding guideline on the packaging which you can follow.


Keep an eye on your pup’s weight every few days so you can see if you need to decrease or increase the amount of food you give them.

8-Week-Old Puppy Socialisation

Socialising your puppy from a young age is crucial as it teaches them how to act around strangers and other dogs. Let your puppy meet other people and vaccinated dogs as often as possible.

puppy socialisation

Puppy Kindergarten

Puppy kindergarten or classes are a great way for allowing your young dog to meet and socialise with other pups. You and your pooch might even make a new friend or two, allowing you to organise some doggy playdates.


Bear in mind that your puppy will need to have finished their second round of vaccinations before you can enrol in puppy kindergarten.

8-Week-Old Puppy Introductions

There are a lot of things you need to introduce your puppy to while they are young, including cars, grooming, and being comfortable when you’re out of the house.

Being Alone

Teaching your dog to be alone from an early age will help prevent them from becoming anxious or overly stressed when you’re not around. 


Start off slow by encouraging your pup to sit quietly in their bed while you’re still in the same room. Reward them when they do so.


Next, teach them to sit and stay while you walk a few steps away. Praise or give your dog a treat when they stay in the same position. 


You can gradually increase the distance between you and your pup, before eventually leaving the room and closing the door. Leave the room for longer periods until your dog is accustomed to being on their own for an hour. 

The Car

Car trips can be stressful for young dogs, so it’s vital to teach them that being in a vehicle isn’t as scary as it seems. 


Make sure you have a car crate or car harness to keep your pooch safe while they travel. Let them sit stationary in the car and sniff their surroundings. Once they seem comfortable, take them on a slow and short trip in the car, perhaps to the end of the road.


Give them lots of praise for sitting quietly during the drive. You can slowly build up the duration of their time in the car to help them feel more confident.

dog in car

8-Week-Old Puppy Exercise

Exercise is important for puppies as it helps with physical and mental stimulation. Dogs with excess energy are much more likely to act out or misbehave.


However, puppies don’t need as much exercise as adult dogs, especially at 8 weeks old. As a general rule of thumb, puppies need 5 minutes of exercise per month of age once or twice a day. So, an 8-week-year old dog will need a 10-minute walk one to two times daily.


Before you take your pup out in public, they should have completed their second round of vaccinations. If your puppy isn’t vaccinated yet, let them run around your garden or carry them around your local park when it’s less busy. That way, they can get a feel for the area without coming into contact with unvaccinated dogs.

Dalmatian puppy alone

8 week puppy Grooming

It’s important to get your puppy accustomed to being groomed and bathed while they are young as this will help you avoid problems in the future. If they are a long-haired breed, you’ll need to get them used to having their coat brushed.


Let your dog sniff the brush, then remove it and offer them a treat. After doing this a few times, brush a few strokes down their back and reward them. The point of this is to build up a positive association with grooming.


You can also do this process with nail clippers. Make sure you keep grooming sessions short so you don’t overwhelm your dog. If you plan on taking your pup to a groomer, do so as soon as possible to allow them time to get used to the person and the location.

child petting puppy

Being Handled, Petted, and Checked

Some puppies will be comfortable with being handled and petted straight away, while others may take some time before they grow accustomed to it. If your pup is a little timid around you, you’ll have to gain their trust first.


You can start by holding your hand in front of your puppy’s nose. The majority of dogs will sniff your hand when you do this, and when your pup does, praise and reward them.


Do this multiple times a day for about a week before moving onto the next step. When your dog is comfortably touching and smelling your hand, begin lightly touching underneath their chin. Gradually move onto touching their collar, shoulders, and back. 


As you touch your pup, reward them and remove your hand. They’ll begin to associate your hands with a positive thing (i.e., a tasty treat!).


Once your pooch gets used to being touched around these areas, you can begin petting them in areas they aren’t comfortable with like their paws, tail, or face. If your dog pulls away or attempts to nip, you may need to repeat the earlier steps until they feel more at ease.

french bulldog puppy

Vet Checks and Vaccinations

Your puppy will need to complete two courses of vaccinations to protect them from infectious diseases and from passing them onto other dogs. The first vaccine is normally done when your pooch is between 8 and 10 weeks old, and the second one is given 2 to 4 weeks later.


Your dog will need a booster vaccination at 6 or 12 months of age, and then every year after that to maintain protection. Get your puppy registered at a veterinarian clinic as soon as possible so you can book in your puppy’s vaccinations. 


At the appointment, your vet will be able to check over your puppy to make sure they’re healthy and answer any questions that you might have.

puppy getting vet examination

Your Puppy’s First 24 Hours

When you go to pick up your puppy, try to schedule it on a day you’re off work so you have plenty of time to settle them into their new home. Pack some puppy pads, a leash and harness, and a travel carrier.


The drive back might be a bit nerve-racking for your puppy, so try to keep them as calm as possible. Ask the breeder or rescue centre whether you can take something that has your puppy’s scent on it to help comfort them on the journey home.


Keep noises to a minimum when your puppy first enters their new home. Your young dog will probably feel a little anxious and frightened, so give them some space if they need it.


If you have any other pets, make sure they stay in a separate room initially so you don’t overwhelm your companion. 


Your puppy may settle into their new home straight away or they may take some time to get used to things. Either way, let them explore their surroundings on their own terms.


If you haven’t already, set up a bed for your puppy so they have somewhere cosy to sleep. Moving houses and changing owners in one day is sure to be exhausting!

The first night

Your puppy’s first night is usually the most challenging for puppy owners. Being in an unfamiliar place without their mother and siblings is bound to be stressful for your new pup.


When it’s time for your puppy to go to sleep, make sure their bed is as comfortable as possible. Fill their crate with blankets, toys, and some puppy pads in case of any accidents.


Your puppy will most likely cry and whimper the first few nights, but you mustn’t comfort them or give them any attention. It’s tempting for some owners to let their puppy sleep in their bed. Doing so will only encourage them to make more noise. Make sure you only go over to your pup when they are quiet.

puppy chewing furniture
Written by: Joshua Gordon

Written by: Joshua Gordon

Head of Research and Editorial, Joshua has over 7 years of experience as a finance and automotive research consultant. He is a childhood pet owner and dog enthusiast.