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What to Expect from Your 12-week-old Puppy

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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At 12 weeks of age, your puppy's focus is still to eat, drink, sleep, eliminate and play. Your puppy should be underway to learning right from wrong and in the process of being housebroken. He should be playful and curious. You need to make sure your home is puppy proof and safe. This is a critical time for housetraining and you should carefully support your puppy with a good housetraining schedule.

The following list will help you know what to expect from your puppy has he develops.

  • How Big? Most 12-week-old puppies are only a fraction of their adult length and of weight. Most puppies will gain or grow rapidly between birth and 6 months of age and how much they grow or gain will depend on their breed, diet, and ultimate adult size. Growth is generally steady until they attain their adult size. Some formulas estimate that a puppy's adult weight will roughly be double of their weight at 14 weeks of age.

  • Teething - Puppies 12 weeks old will have most of their 28 baby teeth and may have their first 2 to 4 adult front teeth, called the incisors. Over the next three months, your puppy will be getting in all of his adult teeth. Because they are entering an active "teething" stage, they will want to chew. Provide lots of safe chew toys. Begin the first steps toward brushing their teeth by opening their mouths and looking or gently touching their teeth. Make each event positive.

  • Senses - 12-week-old puppies will show fear, pain and excitement. They can see and hear fairly well. They are learning to differentiate between smells.

  • Ability to Hold Urine – 12-week-old puppies can generally hold their urine for about 4 hours. This means you will need to take them out at least every 4 hours to get them "housebroken".

  • Intelligence – 12-week-old puppies are very interested in their environment. This makes them at higher risk for getting into "things" as they explore their environment. It is estimated that a puppies brain is fully developed at this age and this is the ideal time for them to begin "training". They can begin to understand right from wrong and remember the consequences (reward!). Get your puppy used to the collar and leash.

  • Play & Agility – Most puppies that are 12 weeks old are still quite clumsy but are getting stronger and more coordinated. They have all the gaits of the adult dog, just not fine tuned. They can run, play and stop with better accuracy. You may see bouts of "spurts of energy and play" when your puppy runs around like crazy. Enjoy this time! If your puppy is wreaking havoc in your home, redirect this energy toward appropriate balls and toys.

  • Sleep – Puppies that are 12 weeks old sleep approximately 18 to 20 hours per day. The rest is spent eating, playing and eliminating.

  • Physical Appearance & Hair Coat – 12-week-old puppies have a very soft baby hair coat and do very little shedding. They still have puppy characteristics but are getting slightly taller, longer and their muzzle is lengthening.

    Tips on Best Ways to Raise Your 12-week-old Puppy

  • Continue crate training
  • Maintain a housetraining schedule
  • Take him out at least every 4 hours
  • Feed him 4 times per day
  • Get your puppy used to grooming and touching his feet and mouth
  • Expose your puppy to different people to minimize fears
  • Socialize!
  • Never hit your puppy
  • Give positive reinforcement for work well done
  • Beware of puppy hazards
  • Provide safe chew toys
  • Play with your puppy daily
  • Make sure he gets his vaccines!
  • Start/discuss heartworm prevention with your vet
  • Make sure he has a good ID tag and microchip!

    Read about What your 12-week-old Puppy Needs to Stay Healthy!

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