Puppies – Birth to Three Weeks of Age
Born after approximately sixty days gestation, a puppy’s eyes and ears are sealed shut, and his strongest sense is touch. Warmth is essential, since he can not regulate his body temperature and his nervous system hasn’t matured yet. At about two weeks of age, possibly earlier, his eyes will open, although he still can not see well, and bright light hurts his eyes.
Puppies – Three to Five Weeks of Age
Once your puppy starts to become more alert, he’ll begin exploring his surroundings more. He’s still a weak and round little thing, so much of his wandering is done by rolling and crawling.
Puppies – Five to Twelve Weeks
A critical period of time, puppies five weeks old are exploring their surroundings more, wrestling with their littermates and learning from each other the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. At eight to twelve weeks, a puppy might be sent off to a new home, separating him from his littermates.
Toddlerhood – Three to Seven Months
Teething, an obscene amount of energy followed by sudden crashes into napping mode, and rough play all characterize this stage of puppyhood. By now your puppy should know the basics: sit, lie down, and off. Puppies start to lose their milk teeth at this stage, so don’t panic if you see a trace of blood on your puppy’s chew toys. Be sure and provide plenty of acceptable things to gnaw on though, and now is the perfect age to start reinforcing good “trade” and “redirection” habits, as your puppy may find your shoes more tasty than a plastic teether. It’s also time to start a good dental schedule, with appropriate doggy toothbrushes and pastes (not human toothpaste).
The Adolescent Dog
Dubbed by experienced dog owners as the “question period” of your dog’s life (as in “why on earth did I think I wanted a dog?!”) – at approximately eight months to eighteen months, dogs go through a teenage-like rebelliousness. He now has most of his full-size, and an energy-level that has him bouncing off walls and over furniture, and suddenly he seems to testing every boundary you ever set.
He’s now past all that puppy craziness and should be well settled into adulthood. His routine should be established, with fairly regular times to eat, work, and play, with rest and relaxation always a favoured option as well. The continuous “need” to be played with has settled and your dog is now content to be a companion in all things.
The Senior Years
From seven years of age and older, larger dogs are considered to be in their senior years, despite their utter defiance of such a title. You now have a laid-back, mellow companion, as content to hang out with you on the sofa for the afternoon as he is to romp the morning away in a field or hike a mile or two.
The Twilight Years
He’s now your couch companion, content to just while away the hours in restful contemplation or short and sedate walks. Your best friend is an elderly dog now, and it’s also time to start considering the inevitable.