7 Stages of Puppy Development

blog15In order to understand why your French bulldog puppy doesn’t listen to you at times, you need to understand each stage of development a puppy goes through as it matures. Let’s take a look at the different stages, but before we do, keep in mind that these stages are generalizations each dog will progress at its own pace.
Stage 1: The Transitional Stage
2-3 Weeks
The Transitional stage usually lasts from age two to three weeks, and it’s during this time that your French bulldogs’s eyes will open, and he’ll slowly start to respond to light and movement and sounds around him. He’ll become a little more mobile during this period, trying to get his feet underneath him and crawling around close to his mother. He’ll start to recognize mom and his littermates and also objects placed next to him. So it is good to send us a scented item from home even at this early stage if you have already chosen your French bulldog puppy.
Stage 2: The Almost Ready To Meet The World Stage
3-4 Weeks
The Almost ready to meet the world stage lasts from 3 to about 4 weeks, and your French bulldog puppy undergoes rapid sensory development during this time. Fully alert to his environment, he’ll begin to recognize human family members, so Kay, Gary, Christina, Carrie and our Nanny. It’s best to avoid loud noises or sudden changes during this period. This is not a good time for strangers to come and visit as negative events can have a serious impact on his personality and development right now. French bulldog puppies learn how to be a dog during this time, so it’s essential that they stay with mom and littermates.
Stage 3: The Overlap Stage
4-7 Weeks
From 3-4 weeks, your French bulldog puppy begins the most critical social development period of his life. He learns social interaction with his litter mates, learns how to play and learns bite inhibition. He’ll also learn discipline at this point. Mom will begin weaning the pups around this time, and will start teaching them basic manners, including accepting her as the leader of the pack. We begin to introduce food to the puppies starting around the 4th week. We transition gradually as Mom weans them.
We continue handling the puppies daily, but we don’t separate them from either Mom or litter mates for more than about 10 minutes per day. Puppies that are removed from the nest too early frequently are nervous, more prone to barking and biting and have a more difficult time with socialization and training. Puppies need to be left with Mom and siblings until at least 7 weeks of age. If we feel that your French bulldog puppy needs more time with mom we will let you know that as some puppies need a little longer for optimum social development.
Experts say that the best time in a puppy’s life to learn social skills is between 3 and 16 weeks of age. This is the window of opportunity to make sure your Frenchie puppy grows up to be a well-adjusted French bulldog. It’s extremely important to leave your puppy with Mom and his littermates during as much of this period as possible. Don’t discipline for play fighting, housebreaking mistakes or mouthing as that’s all normal behavior for a French bulldog puppy at this stage.
Stage 4: The “I’m Afraid of Everything” Stage
8 Weeks to 3 Months
The “I’m Afraid of Everything” Stage lasts from about 8 weeks to 3 months, and is characterized by rapid learning as well as a “fearful period” that usually pops up at around 8 to 10 weeks. Not all French bulldogs experience this, but most do, and they’ll appear terrified over things that they took in stride before. This is not a good time to engage in harsh discipline (note… you never should anyway!), loud voices or traumatic events.
At this time your Frenchies puppy’s bladder and bowels are starting to come under much better control, and he’s capable of sleeping through the night. You can begin teaching simple commands like come, sit, stay, down, etc. Leash training can begin. We offer one-on-one training with your puppy as early as 8 weeks as this is the perfect time to begin. Especially if he will be with us beyond 8 weeks of age. It’s important not to isolate your puppy from human contact during this stage or any stage for that matter. He will continue to learn behaviors and manners that will affect him in later years.
Stage 5: The Juvenile Stage
3 Months to 4 Months
The Juvenile stage typically lasts from 3 to 4 months of age, and it’s during this time your French bulldog puppy is most like a toddler. He’ll be a little more independent. He might start ignoring the commands he’s only recently learned. Just like a child does when they’re trying to exert their newly found independence. As in “I don’t have to listen to you!”  Firm and gentle reinforcement of commands and training is what’s required here.
He might start biting you. Play biting or even a real attempt to challenge your authority. A sharp “No!” or “No bite!” command, followed by several minutes of ignoring him, should take care of this problem. Never let anyone in the family even if they “think it is cute” to ever let their French bulldog bite or chew on humans.
Stage 6: The Brat Stage
4-6 Months
The Brat Stage starts at about 4 months and runs until about 6 months, and it’s during this time your French bulldog puppy will demonstrate even more independence and willfulness. You may see a decline in his urge to please you. You should expect to see more “testing the limits” type of behaviors. He’ll be going through a teething cycle during this time, and will also be looking for things to chew on to relieve the pain and pressure. Frozen doggie bones can help sooth him during this period. We wet and freeze tube socks with a knot in them and they love these. Easy to wash too.
He may try to assert his new dominance over other family members, especially children. Continue his training in obedience and basic commands, but make sure to never let him off his leash during this time unless you’re in a confined area. Many times puppies at this age will ignore commands to return or come to their owners, which can be a dangerous, even fatal breakdown in your French bulldog’s response to you. If you turn him loose in a public place and he bolts, the chances of injury or even death can result. So PLEASE don’t take the chance.
He’ll now begin to go through the hormonal changes brought about by his growing natural maturity, and you may see signs of rebelliousness (Think adolescent teen-age boy!). If you haven’t already, you should have him neutered or spayed during this time.
Stage 7: The Young Stage
6-18 Months
The Young hood stage lasts from 6 months to about 18 months, and is usually a great time in your French bulldog’s life. He’s young, he’s exuberant, he’s full of beans and yet he’s learning all the things he needs to become a social and well-adjusted French bulldog.
Be realistic in your expectations of your French bulldog at this time. Just because he’s approaching his full growth and may look like an adult he’s not as seasoned and experienced as you might expect. Gradually increase the scope of activities for your French bulldog, as well as the training. You can start more advanced training during this period, such as herding or agility training, if that’s something both of you are interested in. Otherwise, extend his activities to include more people and other animals.
You’ve raised your puppy through the 7 stages of puppyhood, and now you have a grown-up French bulldog! Almost feels like you’ve raised a kid, doesn’t it? CONGRATS!

About Christina McCarty

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