In order to understand why your puppy doesn’t listen to you at times, you need a basic understanding of each stage
of development a puppy goes through as it matures.
Let’s take a look at the different stages, remember these are generalizations, each puppy progresses at its own pace.
Stage 1: The Transitional Stage 2-3 Weeks
....Generally lasts from age two to three weeks. It’s during this time that your puppy’s eyes will open and he starts to
respond to light, movement and sounds around him. He becomes a little more mobile, tries to get his feet underneath
him and belly crawls or scoots around in the whelping box. He starts to recognize Mom, his littermates, and any toys
that are placed in the box.
Stage 2: The Almost Ready To Meet The World Stage 3-4 Weeks
....Lasts from 3 to 4 weeks. Your puppy undergoes rapid sensory development during this time. Fully alert to his
environment, he begins to recognize caretakers and other family members or pets. Extremely loud noises or sudden
changes during this period can have a serious impact on his development right now.
Stage 3: The Overlap Stage 4-7 Weeks
...Learns social interaction with his littermates, learns how to play and learns bite inhibition.
Mom will begin weaning the pups around this time, starts teaching them basic manners. Caretakers/Breeders begin
to introduce solid food starting around the 4th week gradually as Mom weans them.
Daily handling begins in 10-15 minute intervals. Puppies removed too early or too frequently are nervous, more
prone to barking, biting and can have a more difficult time with socialization and/or training. Puppies need to be left
with Mom and siblings until at least 7 weeks of age - preferably a little longer - for optimum social development.
Experts say that the best time in a puppy’s life to learn social skills is between 3 and 16 weeks of age – that’s the
window of opportunity you have to make sure your puppy grows up to be a well-adjusted dog. It’s extremely important
that you don’t over discipline for play fighting, housebreaking mistakes or mouthing – that’s all normal behavior for a
puppy at this stage.
Stage 4: The “I’m Afraid of Everything” Stage 8 Weeks to 3 Months
...Lasts from about 8 weeks to 3 months, is characterized by rapid learning and a fearful period. Not all dogs
experience this, but if they do they’ll appear terrified over situations that they once took in stride. This is not a good
time to engage in harsh discipline (not there is a good time for that!), loud voices or traumatic events. Stern voice,
constant consistent reinforcement and corrections yield the best results.
Bladder and bowel control improves and he’s capable of sleeping through the night..although he may have a period
where he is struck by new urges to eliminate that are outside of his usual timing. Be Patient and try to notice when
these occur and time his outtings for relief in accordance with them...maybe add a couple more to his regiment
around the time that you've notice these tend to occur..
Accidents may happen. Remember he is not able to speak nor does he do this to upset you. As smart as they are
they are not capable of rationally thought out plans to upset you (:
Simple commands like: sit, stay, drop it, etc. are quickly taught. Leash training begins.
I recommend the short 4-5 ft. chain lead as it aids in deterring attempts by the puppy at controlling the walk or
training by chewing the lead. Carrying it in the mouth is acceptable to me and they do outgrow this stage too (:
DO NOT isolate your puppy from human contact at this time! This is when he learns HOW to be around the humans
in his life, what behavior they expect and what he simply will not be allowed to do.A few minutes in his crate for
inappropriate behavior then back on the short leash at your side.
Naptime and alone playtime can be allowed in a toddler playpen or other established 'Quiet Time' type area usually
set up in the kitchen or other area with vinyl or easy clean flooring. Provide a sturdy chew toy and a couple of other
favorite toys and allow him to entertain himself. This low stimulation 'down time' is necessary to allow him to time to
unwind and think about the things you've taught him today. It is used when he has become over stimulated and/or
frustrated with you...and visa versa!
Stage 5: The Juvenile Stage 3 Months to 4 Months
...Typically lasts from 3 to 4 months of age. Much like a toddler he’ll be a little more independent, might start ignoring
the commands he’s already learned just like a child does. “I don’t have to listen to you!” Firm and gentle
reinforcement of commands and training is what’s required here. He might start biting, play biting or even a real
attempt to challenge your authority. A sharp “No!” or “No bite!” command, followed by several minutes of ignoring
him, should take care of this problem. This stage takes loads of patience to get through and is the one I am most
often called about.
Stage 6: The Brat Stage 4-6 Months
....Starts at about 4 months and runs until about 6 months. During this time your puppy may demonstrate even more
independence and willfulness. You may see a decline in his urge to please you, expect to see more “testing the
limits” type of behaviors.
He’ll also be going through a teething cycle during this time, and will be looking for things to chew on to relieve the
pain and pressure. Frozen dog treats, frozen baby carrots and refrigerated Deer or Elk Antlers also provide relief.
This is also the second "fear period", be sure to expose your puppy to lots of new "friendly" encounters.
Bring lots of treats and praise your puppy for being brave and wanting to investigate.
Continue his training in obedience and basic commands, but make sure to never let him off his leash during this time
unless you’re in a confined area. Many times pups at this age will ignore commands to return to their owners, which
can be a dangerous, even fatal, breakdown in your dog’s response to you.
If your puppy was bought on a spay/neuter contract this is when that will take place. I recommend neutering between
5-6 months...spaying 4-6 months. Ask your Veterinarian for his/her preference as practices vary widely. Don't forget
to mail a copy of the documented proof of spay/neuter back to your breed for their records.
Stage 7: The Young Adult Stage 6-18 Months
....He’s approaching his full growth and may look like an adult but he’s not as mature as you might expect. Gradually
increase the scope of activities for your dog i.e. extend his activities to include more people and other animals – allow
him to interact with non-threatening or non-aggressive dogs.
You can start more advanced training during this period, such as herding or agility training if that’s something both of
you are interested in.