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What to Expect from Your 8-week-old Puppy

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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At this age, your puppy's focus is the basic needs of eating, drinking, sleeping, eliminating and playing. Your puppy can remember which behaviors he is allowed and where and when he is fed. He can even begin house-training and start becoming used to being groomed. He is ready to leave his mother and littermates to go home with you, fully capable of taking his place in the family.

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

  • How Big? – Most 8-week-old puppies are only a fraction of their adult height, length and weight. Most puppies will gain or grow rapidly between birth and 6 months of age. 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.

  • Teething - Puppies at 8 weeks will have all 28 of their baby teeth and may develop their first adult front teeth, called the incisors, between 8 and 12 weeks of age.

  • Senses – 8-week-old puppies will show fear, whimper when hurt and bark when excited or wanting attention. You need to build trust with your puppy. Don't ignore crying but address the cause for the crying with attention and care. Touch is the first sense a dog develops and remains a powerfully important sense throughout his life. The entire body, including the paws, is covered with touch-sensitive nerve endings. Although they can see and hear, their sense of vision and hearing is quietly maturing. They are also developing their general sense of smell.

  • Ability to Hold Urine – 8 week old puppies can generally hold their urine for about 3 hours. This means you will need to take them out at least every 3 hours to get them "housebroken".

  • Intelligence – 8 week old puppies are becoming increasingly curious and interested in the environment. Although capable of learning, they have a very short attention span. Keep a variety of simple toys for your puppy to investigate. He will also play rough and tumble with his littermates and will gradually begin learning to play by himself. It is extremely important that puppies socialize with people at this age. Include lots of people of varying ages, sizes and shapes to interact positively with your pup. Some puppies have a brief phase of "fear" at this time as they may respond to noises or new objects. Expose your puppy to new objects and allow them to investigate on their own terms until they are comfortable with the new situation.

  • Play & Agility – Most puppies 8 weeks old are "clumsy". After all, most puppies just learned to walk at 3 weeks of age and run at 5 weeks of age, which was just a few short weeks ago. They are developing their gross motor skills that help them to run, play, and "hunt". Their fine motor skills will come later. Puppies also learn to jump up at this stage. This is a normal behavior that can turn into an undesirable behavior when the puppy reaches adult-hood and jumps on every visitor. You can begin correcting your puppy and giving him positive reinforcement for good behavior.

  • Physical Appearance & Hair Coat – 8-week-old puppies have a baby type hair coat that is very fine and does very little shedding. Get your puppy used to the brush and comb by gently using them on him for very short sessions that are kept positive. Don't hold your puppy down to be brushed or combed if he does not want to be. Their muzzle is getting longer but overall they have the characteristics of a puppy. The ears may begin to stand up in some breeds.

  • Sleep – Puppies that are 8 weeks old sleep approximately 18 to 22 hours per day. The rest is spent eating, playing and eliminating.

    Tips on Best Ways to Raise Your 8 Week Old Puppy

  • Start crate training
  • Take him out at least every 3 hours
  • Maintain a housetraining schedule
  • Be patient
  • Get your puppy used to grooming and being touched
  • Feed him 4 times per day
  • Never hit your puppy
  • Give positive reinforcement for work well done
  • Expose your puppy to different noises to minimize fear
  • Socialize!
  • Puppy proof your home
  • Make sure he has an ID tag
  • Provide good chew toys
  • Play with Your Puppy
  • Make sure he gets his vaccines!


    Read about What your 8-week-old Puppy Needs to Stay Healthy!

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