It is necessary to give utmost attention and care when puppies are born. In this post, I have described the full puppy development calendar from Day 0 to the time they are mature and fully grown.

Here’s the list of phases in Puppy’s Development:

NEONATAL Period (birth to 14 days old)

Puppies in this new born period can only communicate by feel, temperature & scent. The puppy does not have bowel & bladder control and cannot regulate their body temperature. My pups are kept in a warmed whelping box with their Mumma.

I touch & stroke the pups as much as I can.

They are weighed at least daily. Their nails are cut every 3 days. 

3 – 16 days old I begin the ‘Early Neurological Stimulation’ exercises.

TRANSITIONAL Period (14- 21 days old)

Eyes and ears are open but sight and hearing are limited. Movements are more confident, crawling can begin as soon as 2 weeks. Tail wagging & head movements are beginning to be driven by sound. I spend a lot of time with the litter at this time, talking to the pups & touching them & I give each pup individual cuddles. If their Mum will allow, the other members of my pack start to lick them & spend time with them.

SOCIALISATION Period (3 – 4 weeks)

The puppy is learning about being a dog and has a need for a stable, safe environment. It’s a great time to cuddle & talk to the pup. Hearing can now be tested as it will have developed along with puppy’s sight. In this period I spend hours with them every day, touching, stroking & talking to them. The other members of the pack also spend more time with them.

From 3 weeks of age I start the ‘startle- recovery’ exercises once a day.  The startle should be definite but moderate and recovery should be virtually instantaneous.

This is also the time that I spend time each day banging the vacuum cleaner into their whelping box, turning on hair dryers and making all the sounds that are in a normal home. The aim is to have puppies that take everything in their stride with no fear.

I also play the puppies classical music each day. Studies have shown that puppies that listen to classical music each day spent more time sleeping, barked less and shook less.

I introduce a new toy or sensory mat each day. Some toys make crinkle sounds, some play songs….

They instinctively walk away from their ‘den’ to wee & poop, so this is the time to set up a ‘potty’ area.

• SOCIALISATION Period (4 – 5 weeks)

This is a crucial time for the puppy to spend with mother, other pack members & litter mates, interaction skills are learned at this time along with various canine behaviours such as calming and greeting signals etc.

Puppy is now aware of the differences between canine and human societies. My pups are not separated from ‘the pack’. Interaction between other dogs is crucial to their development. This is the time that their Mumma needs a ‘rest’ and the other members of the pack step in to discipline, play and socialise with them. They are constantly teaching the pups how to behave in a respectful way. Most puppies on the market miss out on this crucial time with adult dogs.

At this time I introduce more interactive toys and low & stable obstacles & climbing objects.

They start having outdoor time to play everyday.

Mumma has normally started weaning the puppies so introduction to fresh mince meat mixed with goats milk is now given to the babies.

• FEAR Period (5 -6 Weeks)

Puppies continue to be given daily attention with lots of cuddles.

I introduce something new each day.

It’s time for the barrier challenge. I place an object across a door way and the pups must work out how to climb over or around the barrier to get to their dinner.

Pups at this age can develop a fear response to a sound or object that they were perfectly fine with the day before. If this occurs I immediately stop whatever it is that’s causing the fear and immediately put into action desensitizing the puppy to whatever scared him.

• SOCIALISATION Period (Emotional Responses) (6 – 8 weeks)

This is the time the puppies learn recall. (come to me when I call them)

Pups respond to high pitched sing song calls.

When they do come to me I give them a treat immediately. By doing this I’m shaping their emotional responses. Pleasure with pats & cuddles, then getting something yummy to eat!

Now is when I get some friends over to do some training sessions with them. I choose friends that have never seen the pups before. I stand back and let ‘the strangers’ do all the work. The pups get treats and cuddles from these people. This helps the puppies view ‘new’ people they have never met with a positive experience and should develop confident adult dogs.

I introduce puppy interactive puzzles with treats in them as well. This helps with problem solving.
The puppy has a developed brain that can think like an adult dog. This is the best time to interact with the puppy as he or she has the ability to learn respect and simple training steps such as come, sit and stay in a very quick time. All that is needed is 1 minute of training several times a day to get huge lasting results.
The permanent man-dog bonding begins. I do not use any corrective measures when training puppies at this stage. Now is all about positive reinforcement by using the clicker and treats for the behavior we want to encourage. This continues into the 8 – 9 week age as well.

Read Also: Common Remedies for Dog Parasites

• SOCIALISATION Period (2nd FEAR Period) (8 – 9 Weeks)

Puppies can spook very easily in this period & frightening experiences can have a lasting effect.

Things learned by negative association in this period can be permanent.

The pups can suddenly become fearful of something he has never been scared of before.

If I see this fear response I will work with that puppy to desensitize that particular fear now or in a weeks’ time depending on how strong that fearful issue is.

All puppies receive individual attention & small training sessions daily. No longer than 2 minutes.

I’m hoping by this age the pups have enthusiastic excitement about taking treats from hands.

Now is not the time to establish ‘rules’. At this age its all about the puppies feeling safe and that’s its fun to learn and experiment. Puppies that have been raised in this way feel free to try different solutions during training sessions and they are much easier to train as adults.

• SOCIALISATION Period (9 – 10 weeks)

By now I’m hoping the pups have a rock solid recall, however I do encourage the new owners to keep treats close so when you do the recall you can give him a treat when he comes. Eventually he will no longer need the treats but for now I would encourage you to continue.

So if your puppy is chewing something he shouldn’t use the recall.

Puppy sniffing in the corner about to go to the toilet – recall.

Puppy guarding objects or locations – recall.

Now is the time to introduce other friendly dogs.

People are sometimes told to constantly socialise their new pups at every opportunity, but I don’t agree. You need to know the behavioural characteristics of the dogs you allow your young puppy to come in contact with. Dogs they socialise with must be calm well-behaved dogs!! 

A puppy subjected to aggression or an attack by another dog in this period; will likely suffer from aggression or fear all its life. Also, if the dogs he/she is meeting have bad manners & no one is correcting this, your pup will learn to behave badly as well.

• SOCIALISATION Period (10-12 weeks)

During the next two weeks puppies life should be packed with fun and joy. Take your puppy with you meet the world.

You’ve got about 14 precious days left in this critical socialization period – make the most of it!

Make sure that all his experiences now are short, fun and positive.

You need to protect your pup from overly excited people grabbing at your puppy. That, can scare them. Intervene if necessary.

We don’t want all the last weeks ruined by one alpha dog or person. Be prepared to walk away from bad advice, bad classes and bad dogs or puppies.

Take your puppy in the car everyday if possible.

Take them into Bunnings.

Take them on your boat.

Take them everywhere that you’d normally go but do remember they are still babies and need regular naps during the day.

Make an appointment to see your vet just to say hi. No examinations, no injections. Pop puppy up on the exam table and give him some treats. & cuddles.

• RANK & SHAPING (14-18 Weeks)

Puppies teethe in this time which makes them chew. The people around a young puppy are often considered good chew toys.

Your puppy will attempt to determine the social rankings within his new “pack”. This may include the same kind of play-fighting that he engaged in with his siblings, but now directed at you and the rest of his new “littermates.” In wild packs, these kinds of dominance games serve a vital function.

Puppy is testing his boundaries within his social circle, seeing if he/she has what it takes to physically challenge his peers and even you, his pack leader. If you don’t step in and discourage this kind of dominance-seeking behavior early on – or, worse yet, if you allow your puppy to “win” at dominance games such as wrestling or Tug-of-War – it could set the stage for more serious challenges to your leadership down the road. However, an occasional ‘win’ will do no harm! Shelties tend to be ‘followers’ not ‘leaders’.

Play-biting may also escalate during this stage, if the play bite hurts I suggest a ‘screech’ in a high pitch sound to correct this behavior rather than allow it to continue. Be sure to correct immediately to allow the puppy to connect the behavior with the correction and be consistent!

Keep up with positive training at this point; learning a new behaviour at this stage is easier than breaking a bad habit later. I really train often in this period, putting formality to the work the puppy can do, asking for more focus etc.


It’s no surprise to see puppies pretend not to hear your known commands at this age. This is the correct period to introduce more formal training, including consequences for disobedience. A swift LIGHT touch to the neck if puppy ignores you is very effective, as it mimics the action the puppy’s mother & other pack members would take if they were being ignored.

Dogs often chew & destroy things that have your scent on them, especially in this period.

Hide your designer shoes! You can expect your puppy to begin teething, which means that unless you provide him with suitable chew toys or fresh raw bones to occupy him and relieve his discomfort, he is liable to destroy some of your treasured belongings.

Unfortunately, many people are unaware of how to correctly train a young dog and some find they can’t cope. Not common with Sheltie owners, but many pups are dumped before 9 months… why? Because they now have strength, they are getting bigger, faster & less reactive to a simple “no”.

Leash training should be well underway and by nine months your puppy should be walking with you on a loose leash, not pulling you along by the leash.

Your new puppy is easily influenced by your pack leadership, so keep it balanced and consistent! Housetraining and introduction to the sights and sounds of your puppy’s new home should begin right away. Positive experiences associated with the various new elements of your puppy’s life will help ensure a smooth transition. And don’t forget that your puppy is still a social animal! If you have no other dogs or pets, try to find calm, vaccinated dog pals for him to interact with. This could prevent issues that may arise later on from lack of socialization.

•  ANOTHER FEAR PERIOD! (8 – 16 Months)

As puppies become what is called gangly, long legs due to growth spurts, they seem to become a little weaker in nerve than previously noted.

Some strange sounds and new sights might spook a dog more easily than just a week or two ago. Watch out for this, you need to listen to him if he’s scared….take it slowly. Make a game around whatever he’s worried about. Give him treats….try to work through the issue in a calm sensitive manner.

More training now is crucial to his/her behavioural development.

• MATURITY(1-4 Years)

If the dog is a pain, then it’s likely because you haven’t completed the training as suggested earlier, but better late than never. If you allow your dog to reach maturity without any training, you’re in for a hard time.

Dogs need exercise, consistent, calm, discipline and love.

Enjoy your puppies journey! If you have any questions or input please let me know in the comments below.

Author: Lynne Merritt

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