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Dog's Development Cycle

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

A clear way to understand your puppy

A little Golden Retriever Puppy is learning how to be a good dog. Knowing the growth and development cycle of dog's is a key in training a puppy. Puppy classes Vancouver.
A little Golden Retriever Puppy is learning how to be a good dog. Knowing the growth and development cycle of dog's is a key in training a puppy.

Growth stages of puppies

I have been fortunate enough to make the allotted time to invest in studying puppies through a number of growth stages. Ten years ago, I presented this new information to the dog trainers I certify for training dogs to co-exist in our human everyday life. To co-exist is now 100% achievable with my methods of training because of the in-depth study of puppies and dogs. Allowing puppies to teach a dog trainer is unheard of, almost crazy to imagine that we the trainer should learn from a puppy. I have learned from every dog I have worked with. I have been humbled many times and forced to admit I have more study to do before my dog training skills are up to par with dog.

A puppy is much smarter than we give them credit for. They are born with instincts, skills, survival tactics, they are born with a personality, are given a set of tools to fluctuate between protector or servant or equal partner. A puppy comes equipped with instinctual behaviour programming and repetitious programming, the two are very different, the two work in unison to allow the puppy to grow up to be very smart and adaptable in a variety of situations. Humans egotism becomes a liability starting with ignoring the fact that the cute little fur ball we call puppy is cute and that’s all. Human nature compliments the physical being first, sidelining any thoughts for the brilliance and complexity inside the DNA which creates the fascinating, complex smart being we call dog.

Compounding our early error, we have a community of dog trainers shoving food into a little puppy’s mouth pretending this is love and this is how to best train this animal. Misleading the public to trick the public to believe this is dog training. There is no training involved in giving morsels of food to an animal. It’s simple, lazy and cause future behaviour problems, factually speaking. The dog is already making a fool of the method, outsmarting us as soon as this happens.

For years I have listened and collected the data from what people are saying about the behaviour and destruction patterns which a puppy may or may not cause during different ages throughout the first year. Interestingly enough a clear pattern presented itself. This pattern did not change regardless of breed of puppy. If the puppy was removed prematurely, before 8 weeks of age. A frightening difference in behaviour would develop. (Puppies removed from the litter before the age of 8 weeks had an increase of behaviour issues from, separation anxiety, potty-training, future aggressions, developing social skills, knowing social cue’s to name a few).

Mapping out common behaviours will give the owner an idea as to what to expect and better prepare themselves for situations which happen and understand if they are intentional behaviours or a behaviour caused by maturing. (A boy entering puberty will go through a voice change, this is not intentional and purposely caused by the boy. The aging process is why the voice has changed.)

Something to think about and lend yourself to be understanding what your puppy is going through.

Day 64 or 8 weeks in the life of a puppy,

has siblings,

a rank among the siblings,

a mom,

a home,


able to freely play with the siblings,

daily lessons from mom,

will be disciplined by mom,


The home the puppy lives in is familiar to





left to problem solve the familiar landscape any obstacles.

Immediate change

Day 64 or 8 weeks in the life of a puppy Day 66 or 8 weeks 2 days in the life of a puppy

What the puppy has What the puppy loses

1. has siblings No siblings

2. a rank among the siblings No rank

3. a mom No mom

4. a home An unfamiliar home

5. food Food usually changes

6. able to freely play with the siblings No siblings to play with

7. daily lessons from mom No daily lessons from mom

8. daily lessons from mom No daily lessons from siblings

9. will be disciplined by mom No discipline by mom,

10. protected from mom. No protection from mom

Day 66 or 8 weeks 2 days

The home environment and landscape shift’s dramatically

Day 64 or 8 weeks in the life of a puppy Day 66 or 8 weeks 2 days in the life of a puppy

1. The home the puppy lives in is familiar to Unfamiliar new home

2. Sounds Unfamiliar sounds

3. Smells Unfamiliar smells

4. Food Feeding alone

5. Exercise - Wrestling, chase, tugging Exercising becomes limited

6. Tussles with siblings Tussles with siblings becomes non-


7. Left to problem solve the familiar landscape Problem solving unfamiliar new any obstacles. landscape often becomes mundane and


One of the biggest changes a puppy goes through when it’s adopted is being picked up. Being picked up is not all bad as long as it is done in moderation. Most puppies do not like to be physically held as much as many people enjoy holding a puppy. People will stuff them in a stroller, inside a coat, a purse, backpack or simply just carry the puppy around. The first 8 weeks of this puppy’s life was not living a life hovering 4 or 5 feet above the ground. They were on the ground, learning about puppy life, learning coordination, chasing, wrestling, sleeping in a puppy pile, jumping, even learning play maneuvers, tag and tug and many other activities while on the ground. Suddenly a puppy is now being plucked from the ground, held tightly, and sometimes dropped which is scary and some puppies die this way. The puppy is now being sniffed, smelled, held for selfies, made to be anything but a pup, but more as a prop.

This is where people need to unwind the selfish behaviour and take a moment to be considerate and compassionate to the overwhelming changes the puppy experiences. I have asked clients in past. What is it like when you experience sudden change, how do you respect and react to drastic change? Maybe, just maybe if we took a breather and considered the vastness of change a puppy or adopted dog will go through without having a voice in the matter.

This is not to say a pity party is welcome. Far be it, the animal craves, needs and looks for leadership more than ever. Knowing their safety is taken care of is of great importance. Overdoing the love towards the newcomer into the home is unhealthy. Keep structure but not routine, keep compassion but not baby talk. You have made the decision to bring this four-legged animal into your home, now you need to learn dog language and dog protocols. A piece of food to lure and win over the animal is the most useless and disrespectful thing you can introduce to the puppy or dog. Don’t be that person.

Dog's Growth and Development Cycle diagram by Brad Pattison, Puppy Trainer, Dog trainer, dog behaviourist.
Dog's Growth and Development Cycle diagram by Brad Pattison, Puppy Trainer & Dog trainer.

Written by Brad Pattison, Dog Behaviourist, Vancouver Dog Trainer & Puppy Trainer

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