Learn more about puppy development and supporting puppies to become well-adjusted adult dogs.
Genes and environment influence puppy development, including their:
- social behavior
Puppy development is also affected by:
- prenatal stress
- maternal care
- human care
Maternal care has life-long effects. Happy mothers provide better care for puppies. Better care improves puppy health!
Puppies need gentle, positive exposure to dogs, people, objects, and experiences. Good socialization of puppies supports behavioral health. Well-socialized dogs show fewer negative behaviors later in life, helping them be happier human companions.
Puppy development has five stages:
- the pre-natal period: when prenatal stress in the dam has a large impact
- the neonatal period (birth to 2 weeks): puppies are dependent on mom for all care
- the transition period (2 weeks to 3 weeks): the senses are developing and puppies become mobile
- the socialization period (Day 13 – 12 weeks): an important time for puppies to have positive exposure to dogs, people, objects, and experiences
- the juvenile period (12 weeks to 6 months): puppies are more independent and exploratory
Serpell, J. & Jagoe, J.A. (1995). The domestic dog: its evolution, behavior and interactions with people. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.
Puppy Development Library
Bare BoneS – If you Only have a few minutes for the basics
At-A-Glance: Puppy Development: Application - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
At-A-Glance: Puppy Development: Maternal Stress - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
At-A-Glance: Puppy Development: Maternal Care - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
At-A-Glance: Puppy Development: Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
At-A-Glance: Puppy Development: Stages - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Puppy Developmental Stages - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Creating a Comfortable Whelping Area
Setting Up a Welfare-Friendly Whelping Area - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Maternal Stress and Puppy Development
SNACKS – If You Want to Learn More
Implications of Weaning Age for Dog Welfare - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS): Implications for Canine Welfare and Management - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Early Neurological Stimulation
Prenatal Stress and Puppies: Implications for Dog Welfare in Commercial-Breeding Kennels - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Your Puppy's Development
Fear, Stress, and Puppy Brain Development: What to Know
Early Experience and the Development of Behavior
Dog Behavior: Modern Science and Our Canine Companions
The Relationship Between Maternal Care and Puppy Behavior
Maternal Behavior in Bitches
Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog
Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition 2nd Edition
Early Rearing Environment
Kibble – If you Want to Take a Deep Dive into the Science
The Effect of Transportation on Puppy Welfare From Commercial Breeding Kennels to a Distributor - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Dam (Canis familiaris) Welfare Throughout the Peri-Parturient Period in Commercial Breeding Kennels - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
The Effect of Early Neurological Stimulation on Puppy Welfare in Commercial Breeding Kennels - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Effects of Early Gentling and Early Environment on Emotional Development of Puppies
Periods of Early Development and the Effects of Stimulation and Social Experiences in the Canine
Critical Periods in the Development of Social Behavior in Puppies
Breed-Dependent Differences in the Onset of Fear-Related Avoidance Behavior in Puppies
Teenage Dogs? Evidence for Adolescent-Phase Conflict Behaviour and an Association Between Attachment to Humans and Pubertal Timing in the Domestic Dog
Basal Cortisol Concentrations Related to Maternal Behavior During Puppy Development Predict Post-Growth Resilience in Dogs
Sampling Maternal Care Behaviour in Domestic Dogs: What’s the Best Approach?
Characterizing Early Maternal Style in a Population of Guide Dogs
Level of Maternal Care in Dogs Affect Adult Offspring Temperament
Influence of Maternal Care on Behavioural Development of Domestic Dogs (Canis familiaris) Living in a Home Environment
Maternal Behaviour in Domestic Dogs
A Review of Maternal Behaviour in Dogs and Potential Areas for Further Research
Are There Long-Term Effects of Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) on Working Dogs?
Additional Resources to Support Dogs in Other Environments
SHELTER & RESCUE
Dogs living in shelter or rescue kennels face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers, including those caring for dogs in home-based foster systems or rescue networks, are provided to support efforts to improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Dogs living in homes as family pets face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers, support the human-animal bond, keep pets in their homes, and improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Research & Teaching
Dogs living in research or teaching kennels face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers are provided to support efforts to improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Applications for Research & Teaching
Evaluating the Effect of Early Neurological Stimulation on the Development and Training of Mine Detection Dogs
Schoon, A. and Berntsen, T. (2011). Evaluating the effect of early neurological stimulation on the development and training of mine detection dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 6, 150-157. doi: 10.1016/j.veb.2010.09.017
Effects of Maternal Investment, Temperament, and Cognition on Guide Dog Success
Bray, E. E., Sammel, M. D., Cheney, D. L., Serpell, J. A., Seyfarth, R. M., Marshall-Pescini, S., & Parker, K. J. (2017). Effects of maternal investment, temperament, and cognition on guide dog success. maternal care development puppy
Applications for Pet Families
Dog Pregnancy: Signs, Care, and Preparing for Puppies
Meyers, H. (2022, April 21). Dog pregnancy: Signs, care, and preparing for puppies. American Kennel Club. Retrieved June 23, 2022, from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/dog-breeding/dog-pregnancy-care-prep/
Dog Behavior: How the Past Shapes the Present
Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital. (2021). Dog Behavior: How the Past Shapes the Present. Retrieved June 20, 2023, from https://staroftexasvet.com/dog-behavior-how-the-past-shapes-the-present/.
Applications for Shelter & Rescue
What to Expect When Your Pregnant Foster Dog is Expecting
Austin Pets Alive. (2019). WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOUR PREGNANT FOSTER DOG IS EXPECTING. Retrieved June 20, 2023, from https://americanpetsalive.org/uploads/resources/What-to-Expect-When-Your-Pregnant-Foster-Dog-is-Expecting-1.pdf.
How a Mother’s Stress Can Influence Unborn Puppies
Hekman, J. (2021). How a Mother’s Stress Can Influence Unborn Puppies. Whole Dog Journal. Retrieved June 20, 2023, from https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/puppies/puppy-health/how-a-mothers-stress-can-influence-unborn-puppies/.