Helping You Help Animals!

What and When? Your Puppies First Year (Part 3)

Click Here To See Part 2: 7-9 Weeks Old!


9-12 Weeks

At 9-12 weeks your puppy is establishing their place within your family, or to them, the pack.  Your family has taken the place of their littermates, and they have started to bond.  The puppies motor skills are much more developed and they are beginning to learn acceptable, and unacceptable behaviors.


Vaccines:  At 12 weeks your puppy should get another combination vaccine that usually includes adenovirus, cough and hepatitis, distemper, parainfluenza, and parvovirus.  At 12 weeks or older they should also receive their first Rabies vaccination.

Socialization:  Even though your puppy has gained some independence, you still need to continue socializing them. This includes lots of time with their new family, time around other dogs, and time visiting new places.  Once given the okay by your Vet, you should start taking your puppy out on adventures with you.  Meeting strangers, other dogs, and children will help socialize your puppy and teach them how to properly behave around new people.

Training:  Your puppy should be making progress on housebreaking, but is probably not fully trained yet.  Continue the positive reinforcement for good behaviors, and gentle negative responses for bad behaviors.  This is also the time for them to learn their name as well as learning basic tricks such as sit, down, and stay.

Exercise:  Your puppy will begin to have more energy as the “sleepy puppy” stage wanes.  As your puppies energy levels increase, so should their exercise and play.  A tired puppy is a happy puppy and makes a happy owner!  Your dog is much less likely to get into trouble or look for things to do if they are tired from lots of play and exercise.

13-16 Weeks

Between 13-16 weeks is commonly when most puppies begin teething.  The puppy will also start establishing their place within the pack (family), finding out who they are dominant and submissive to.

Vaccines:  At 15 weeks your puppy should get another combination vaccine that usually includes adenovirus, cough and hepatitis, distemper, parainfluenza, and parvovirus.

Teething:  Be prepared, your puppy will chew one anything available, including you.  A positive and negative reinforcement go a long way with teething. Make sure your puppy has lots of fun chew toys and tasty bones to gnaw on.  Preventative measures will also help eliminate chewing issues.  By keeping things off the floor, or out of the puppies reach, you will avoid the puppy chewing on them.  Keep shoes in a closed room or closet that the dog cannot access. This will stop a chewing issue before it starts.  If your puppy is chewing on furniture or anything stationary that can’t be easily removed from the area, a bitter no-chew spray can help.

Socialization:  Continue intense socialization with your family and with other animals and people.

Training:  It is important for your dog to be submissive to each member of the family, even the children.  For some dog this requires training classes.  Some time, and possibly money, spent in these early months on training will go a long way towards making your dog behave properly for their entire life.  Since this is a time of testing boundaries, be sure to be stern when applicable, and always keep your puppy on a leash when in an unfenced area.

16 Weeks and Older

This is the time to form habits with your puppy and for you both to adjust to your new life.  Your puppy has learned many things about you and life in your home, but they still have a lot of learning to do and a lot of new experiences to have.  Be patient with your puppy, since they don’t always understand your intention or the reason for an action, sometimes they react in a way that might seem bizarre.  Through experience and shared respect you and your puppy will learn one another, and what to expect from day-to-day life with each other.

Vaccines:  Vaccines after 16 weeks should be decided by your Vet, but are often given either every year, or every three years.

Socialization:  Socializing your dog never loses importance; it should be done as often as possible. The more situations and environments you expose your dog to, the more they will be comfortable with handling.

Training:  As with socialization, training is a lifelong commitment.  Your dog will become rusty of you don’t run them through their tricks occasionally, so make sure you practice!

Are you having issues with training and obedience? Click here to learn how taking special courses in these areas can help you and your dog!