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While every puppy is an individual who develops at his or her own pace, here are some general guidelines on what you can expect as your pup grows into adulthood.


Neonatal Period (from birth to two weeks of age) - Spent at Cold Mountain Siberians

  • Neonatal puppies exhibit five main behaviors:

       - Rooting - Swimming motion pups use to push towards mom’s teats

       - Righting - Ability to turn over when on back

       - Suckling - Reflexive response to mouth touching teat

       - Distress Calling - When hungry or cold; address crying immediately

       - Activated Sleeping - Jerking, twitching and shifting; which occurs during sleep

  • Neonatal puppies cannot regulate their own body temperature until they develop the shiver response at around two and a half weeks of age.

  • Puppies are born unable to see until their eyes open at around two weeks of age. Eyesight will continue to improve through first eight to twelve weeks of life.

  • Puppies are also unable to hear until their ear canals begin to open at around ten days of age. Ear canals are generally fully open by twelve days of age, though hearing, like vision, continues to improve as puppies age.

  • Neonatal puppies begin to support their weight on front legs at six to ten days and rear legs at eleven to fourteen days.

Transitional Period (from fourteen to twenty-one days) - Spent at Cold Mountain Siberians

  • Puppies begin to gain voluntary control of urination and defecation

  • Auditory startle response developed around eighteen days of age.

  • Puppies begin to crawl


Early Socialization/Habituation Period (from three to seven weeks) - Spent at Cold Mountain Siberians

  • By four weeks of age, most puppies can start eating solid food as their first teeth begin to erupt.

  • Mom and other benevolent adult dogs begin to teach puppies appropriate behavior with other dogs.

  • Puppies learn appropriate behaviors with other puppies through interactions with litter-mates.

  • Puppies begin to understand that there is a difference between people and dogs.

  • Puppies learn species-specific behaviors such as biting, barking, play fighting and chasing.

  • Puppies begin developing attachments to the people with whom they interact.

Secondary Socialization/Habituation Period (from seven to sixteen weeks) - You can now take your new puppy home!

  • Socialization with various individuals of all species is important.

  • Habituation to a variety of environments is most easily accomplished.

  • Secure attachment to primary caregiver(s) begins to develop.

  • Many puppies go through several weeks of fearfulness, called primary fear period, early in this stage of development. When this happens, it is important to let your puppy know that he can always count on your patience and support. The world can seen like a very scary place for a young puppy.

Juvenile Period (from four to six months)

  • Continuing socialization and habituation is critical

  • First permanent teeth have appeared and chewing is important. During this time, puppies have two primary needs:

    1. The need to chew. This need can be met by providing appropriate chewing options.

    2. This need can be met by replacing inappropriate items with appropriate ones. In the case of puppy teeth on human skin,

        expressions of pain, such as yips and ouch sounds, can help puppies realize that people are fragile and bites hurt them. This

        establishes human bite inhibition, a critical skill for dogs.


Helping Your Dog Get Comfortable with His World

    Puppies are thought to be most impressionable during the first sixteen weeks of life. Your puppy should have positive exposures to as many different individuals and situations as possible during this time. Check with your veterinarian before exposing your puppy to other dogs. After your puppy receives his second to third puppy shots he will start to develop his own immunity, Keep in mind there is period of time from several days to several weeks in which the maternal anti-bodies are too low to provide protection against disease, however too high to allow vaccines to work. This period is called the window of susceptibility. Your puppy’s health is of primary importance, but please keep in mind that far more dogs have problems from being poorly socialized than from diseases. Providing as many good interactions for your young puppy as you safely can is the best way to help him grow into a happy, well-mannered adult.


    If you have an older puppy or adult dog who hasn't been well socialized or habituated to different situations, don't despair. It is entirely possible to properly socialize and habituate a dog older than sixteen weeks of age, provided he trusts you explicitly. It will take your older dog a little longer if he didn't have the experiences he needed as a young puppy, so your patience is critical.


    Also, no matter what age your puppy was when you began exposing him to the world and its various inhabitants, it is vital for those positive exposures to continue until your puppy is at least twelve months old if he is a smaller dog, and eighteen months old if he is a larger dog. Of course, a lifetime of positive experiences is optimal for all dogs.


Adolescent and Young Adult Periods (from six to eighteen months)

  • Continuing socialization and habituation is critical.

  • Virtually all puppies go through what is called a secondary fear period at some point during their adolescence. The exact timing of these periods varies, but most seems to begin between six and twelve months and can last three weeks to three months or longer. Evidence of secondary fear period can include all manner of lunacy, including an inability to get along with others. Virtually every bad behavior you can name can be attributed to this fear—which might be better called a lack of personal confidence period. What helps most is your unconditional support and time. They all grow out of it eventually. Promise!

  • Dogs may begin hunting for available food in the house during this stage. Addressing the underlying cause of this behavior—the desire to eat accessible food—is as simple as making the food inaccessible for the dog. Problem solved! Remember: no matter how old you dog grows, he is still very much like a toddler, so its your job to help him stay safe and out of trouble.

  • Jumping up in an effort to make social contact and gain reassurance becomes more common during this period. You can help your dog keep four paws on the floor using what we call the “two-hands,all in” technique. Use both hands to massage him as you speak in a kind, soothing tone until he relaxes. To keep your dog from jumping on someone else, feed the need for social contact by saying “Two-hands all in” yourself until you are certain he is comfortable with the presence of the other person(s).

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