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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
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
The 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.
But, don’t worry, there are a few things you can do so both you and your puppy can have a good night’s sleep.
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.
You could also wrap a hot water bottle (make sure it isn’t too hot though!) in a towel. The heat will be reminiscent of the warmth of their mother.
If you can, take your puppy’s crate or pen to your bedroom. Your presence will help them feel a bit more reassured. Otherwise, put your pup’s bed in a room that’s quiet and warm.
Your puppy will most likely cry and whimper the first few nights, but you mustn’t comfort them or give them any attention. Doing so will only encourage them to make more noise. Make sure you only go over to your pup when they are quiet.
Set some alarms as your puppy will need to relieve themselves during the night. Even at 8 weeks old, puppies can only hold their bladder for around 2 hours.
Put your pooch on a leash when you take them outside, making sure they go straight back to bed once they’re done. This will help them get used to the nighttime routine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dealing with a Crying Puppy
Puppies cry as a way to communicate that they’re not happy or something is wrong. Before you appropriately deal with a crying puppy, you’ll first need to first figure out why they are acting up.
Are they hungry or thirsty? Do they need to go potty? You should never ignore your pup if they need any of the latter.
However, if your puppy is crying simply because they’ve been left alone, it’s important not to reward them with any attention. Doing so will teach your pup that crying will get them affection or treats.
Check on your puppy to make sure they’re not hurt or desperate for the toilet, but don’t linger or interact with them. Leave the room once you know your puppy’s fine, and if they begin crying again, let them. It can be hard hearing your puppy so upset, but you mustn’t give in.
With time, your puppy will begin to realise that crying won’t get them any attention.
Destructive Puppy Behaviour
Destruction and puppies go hand in hand, but one of the easiest ways to stop this type of behaviour is to prevent it in the first place. You should always be supervising your pup when they are playing or exploring to make sure they don’t get into trouble.
But there will be times you turn your back for a millisecond, only to find your favourite pair of shoes in rags. Puppy proofing your home is key as this will decrease the chances of your puppy ripping up your belongings and valuables.
Ensure anything that you don’t want to be chewed or destroyed is well out of your puppy’s reach, such as remote controls, clothes, pillows, and anything else that could be perceived as a toy.
Don’t let your dog gnaw on an old pair of shoes or socks. They won’t be able to tell the difference between old ones and new ones.
If you notice your puppy chewing on something inappropriate, correct them and divert their attention to a suitable item such as a heavy-duty chew toy.
Boisterous Puppy Behaviour
Some puppies can get a bit boisterous, particularly when they are overstimulated during play sessions. If your pooch gets a little aggressive or hyperactive with you, it’s important to give them breaks so they have a chance to calm down.
Start using a cue to communicate to your dog that playtime is over. Take away the toys and hold your hands out, saying something like “over”. This will help your puppy understand that the play session is finished.
Offer your pooch a chew toy or a Kong filled with some treats so they don’t associate the end of playtime as a bad thing. Teaching your puppy to drop items when prompted is also helpful.
Naughty Puppy Behaviour
- Always supervise your puppy. If you spot them soiling in the house or chewing on furniture, interrupt them and direct them to an appropriate area or toy.
- Keep your dog in one room as this will make cleaning up and puppy-proofing much easier.
- Offer lots of chew toys and praise your puppy when they use them. Take your puppy outside regularly and reward them immediately when they pee or poop.
- Don’t interact with your puppy when they are crying after being left alone.
- If your dog bites or mouths you, correct them and distract them with a toy. If they continue biting, turn away or walk out of the room.
- Play and exercise your puppy every day. A dog with pent up energy is more likely to misbehave.
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 you should feed them 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 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.
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.
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.
It’s important to get your puppy accustomed to being groomed 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 7am – Potty break.
- 8am – Meal and activity.
- 9am – Potty break and sleep.
- 10am – Activity.
- 11am – Potty break and sleep.
- 12pm – Activity
- 1pm – Meal, potty break, and activity.
- 2pm – Activity.
- 3pm – Potty break and sleep.
- 6pm – Potty break, meal, and activity.
- 7pm – Sleep.
- 8pm – Activity until bedtime.
- 10pm – Potty break and bedtime.
- 2am – Potty break.