Understanding the various stages of puppy growth development can provide pet owners with sufficient information to properly take care of their dog. Much like children, pit bull puppies go through milestones as they grow. Puppy development can typically be divided into seven stages, starting at birth and ending with adulthood or the maturity of the dog. There is no set age that a puppy turns into an adult as different breeds develop at different rates. Smaller breed dogs seem to reach maturity faster, around 12 months of age, while larger breeds typically mature between 18 and 24 months of age.
Stages of Puppy Development
Stage One — Birth to 3 Weeks of Age
Your puppy is born deaf, blind, and without teeth. For the first couple of weeks of life, your puppy will spend most of its time eating and sleeping. This is when the majority of their growth will take place. By two weeks of age, your puppy will begin to open its eyes. During the third week, the ears will open and the tops of the pointed teeth should begin coming through the gums. At the end of stage one of puppy development, he will begin to bark and interact with the world around him.
Stage Two — 3 Weeks to 7 Weeks
During stage two of puppy development, your dog will continue to grow rapidly and will become more socialable with his mother, litter mates, and the humans in his life. The puppy’s mom will take this time to wean him and teach him manners. He’ll learn how to control how hard he bites by practicing with his sisters and brothers, and learn what type of rough play is tolerated. By 7 weeks of age, your puppy should be able to run short distances, bark, wag his tail, and eat puppy food. Between 6 and 7 weeks of age, your puppy should receive his first set of vaccinations and get his first worming.
Stage Three – 7 Weeks to 12 Weeks
On average, a puppy will be ready to leave its mother between 7 and 9 weeks of age. During this stage, it’s extremely important to teach your puppy about socialization, provide puppy classes, and teach basic manners and commands. Your puppy may be afraid of humans at first, but with the proper socialization, he will soon learn the positives of interacting with others. It’s also important not to expose your puppy to any situations that may be too stressful to him at this young age.
Stage Four – 12 Weeks to 16 Weeks
During stage four of puppy development, your dog will become more independent and may try to challenge you. He’ll begin teething and his sore gums may lead to chewing, mouthing, and biting whatever he can. If available, start bringing your puppy to obedience classes in order to teach him what’s allowed and what is not.
Stage Five – 17 Weeks to 40 Weeks
Between 17 and 40 weeks of age, your puppy will develop at an amazing rate. Continue to teach socialization skills and train your dog to follow simple commands such as going outdoors or into his crate. Be prepared as your puppy continues to test your limits. It’s recommended not to encourage even playful mouthing or biting as this can lead to bad habits. Avoid playing tug-of-war or similar games as this can encourage dominance in some puppies. During this stage, it’s essential that you get your dog spayed or neutered to prevent future health problems and unwanted puppies.
Stage Six – 40 Weeks to 1 Year
Depending on the breed and size of your dog, he may reach maturity during stage six. Although your dog may look like an adult, he will still show the behaviors of a puppy. Dogs at this age will have tons of energy and require two to three hours of play and running time each day to prevent this excess energy from forming bad habits. It’s best to avoid harsh punishments or aggressive responses when your puppy is bad. Use a firm voice when teaching your dog the difference between bad and good and reward good behavior.
Stage Seven – 1 Year and Up
Between 1 and 2 years of age, your dog will reach full developmental and sexual maturity. His growth will begin to taper off as you switch from puppy food to regular dog foods as his nutritional needs change. Your dog will require a more vigorous exercise routine and the training that you did as a puppy should be apparent to everyone in the household. Congratulations, all your hard work has paid off.
Caring for your Pit bull Puppy
The stages of puppy growth development are extremely important to the well-being of your dog. Pay special attention to your puppy during each of these stages and you’ll soon see how all your time and hard work has turned into a loyal, intelligent, and well behaved dog.