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Before your puppy is able to take his place in your home, he will have gone through many formative stages that help shape his later character traits and habits. The following transitional stages mark his early growth.

From birth to two weeks of age the puppy’s needs are simple: warmth, food from his dam, and lots of sleep. The ears begin to function at around ten days and the eyes open at ten to fourteen days. During his stage people should talk softly and stroke the puppy but avoid trying to pick him up or separate him from his mother.

At three to four weeks of age the puppy takes his first steps and begins to interact with his littermates. He begins to vocalize and investigate his immediate surroundings. During this stage, the puppy can be held and exposed to the noises of the household. His first supplementary food can be introduced into the diet, thereby beginning the weaning process.

At five to seven weeks of age the puppy is getting his first lessons in self-control. Weaning continues and the mother begins teaching him discipline and manners. The puppy is starting to enjoy actively socializing with his littermates and with humans. This is a vital stage in the puppy’s development, as exposure to various people and situations prepares him for his eventual place in domestic life. Puppies removed from the litter at this point often make poor pets, as they cannot adequately relate to other dogs or humans; they are either too nervous or overly aggressive. At this stage the puppy learns how to get around, taking on such challenges as stairs and thick carpets inside the house or tall grass and paved walkways outside.

From eight to ten weeks of age the puppy is fully weaned from his mother. He needs exposure to plenty of new locations and stimuli at this point, and the more positive human contact he can receive, the better. The puppy learns to want the company of people, not just of his mother and littermates. Simple training, such as teaching him his name or how to walk on a leash, can begin at this time. The puppy should also be allowed to explore his surroundings. Training at this stage should be fun, not formal and not stressed. Inquisitive, active puppies can get themselves into dangerous situations, so the puppy must be supervised at this age. If not, he may chew electric cords or injure himself in rambunctious play.

At eleven to twelve weeks of age the puppy is well socialized and ready for his new home. While separation from his littermates will be traumatic, the excitement of a new life will quickly entice him and win him over. At this point the puppy goes on to develop his own personality, and simple obedience and housebreaking training can begin.


Reprinted with permission from The Chinese Shar-Pei, TFH Publications, Neptune City, N.J.

Photo courtesy of MSPCA member, Stephanie Conway


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Last updated: 10/11/09.

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