Just as in human development, puppy development milestones follows a very predictable sequence of steps, although there is no widespread agreement on the exact ages that these milestones occur. Small dogs grow and develop quickly and often reach maturity before larger breeds.
Puppy development follows a predicable path yet each puppy is unique and each breed is slightly different at the various stages of development. The old rule of each year of a dog’s life is equivalent on seven years for human is not completely accurate.
For most small dogs, including the Shih Tzu, the average life span is approximately 15 --16 years. Small dogs mature early and females often have their first heat by the age of 6 or 7 months. By the age of 12 or 13 months, they are often ready to be bred.
Many changes take place in the first year of a Shih Tzu Puppy's life.
Puppies go from a relatively helpless neonate who cannot see or hear or eliminate by himself to a fully grown, agile, sexually mature adult all in less than 12 months.
When do all of these changes take place?
There are seven recognized stages of puppy development:
Stage One: 0-3 Weeks
Stage Two: 3 to 7 Weeks
Stage Three: 7 to 12 Weeks
Stage Four: 12-17 weeks
Stage Five: 17 to 40 Weeks
Stage Six: 40 to 52 Weeks
Stage Seven: 1 year and older
We will first look at puppy development week by week.
Puppy Development: One to Two Weeks: Neonatal Stage
One Day Olds
This puppy is a week old, eyes and ears closed. She depends on her mother for warmth, nourishment, and assistance with elimination.
Touch, Taste, Smell Working, but hearing and sight is not working,
Sleeps and Eats most of the time
Cannot regulate their body temperature
Cannot eliminate on their own--needs mother to initiate urination and defecation
Dependent on mother for food and elimination
If canine mother is not available, human interactions must take over providing warmth, food and elimination
Dependent on breeder for warm environment
First worming at the end of this stage
Puppy Development Milestones: 2-3 Weeks: Transitional Stage
Two Week Old Shih Tzu Puppy.
Eyes and Ears open allowing the puppy to see and hear things in their environment
May be able to eat some solid food by end of this period
First major learning period occurs
First few steps
Still need for warmth
Beginning of social interactions with litter mates, mother, and humans
Puppy Development Milestones: 3-4 Weeks
Here is a 3 week old Shih Tzu puppy with her eyes open and she is trying to sit.
Puppies begin to understand that humans are different from dogs
First introduction to canine manners from mother dog
Some play fighting may occur among litter mates
Eats solid foods, but continues to nurse
Begins to eliminate on own
Becomes more stable on their four paws
Introduction to different sounds in the environment, loud noises
Introduction to different textures, allowed to walk on different flooring
Second worming at end of this period
Puppy Development Milestones: 4-5 Weeks
Teeth may begin to emerge
Very curious at this stage
Plays with Litter mates
Puppies take turns in dominant role
Needs lots of new experiences
Puppies need some time away from litter mates and mother to prevent separation anxiety
Provide lots of chew toys, opportunities to chew on bones
By end of period, puppy is ready for puppy classes
Puppy Development Milestones: 6 Months to One Year
Period begins with beginning of adolescence and ends at sexual maturity
Very independent : has a mind of his own and likely to show signs of stubbornness
Second fear stage around 6 months old and may last only a few days or a few weeks
Girl dogs will go into their first heat period; male dogs get surge of testosterone making them difficult to control--may show up as difficult to manage or disobedient behavior
Loss of baby teeth and adult teeth come in
Continuing training and reinforcement of rules
Neutering or spaying
Can move on to adult food at end of this period
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