The Third/Fourth Stage of Puppy Development

Awareness or identification period

  • Involves a two part process: 3-4 weeks of age and a heightened level of awareness or identification at 4-5 weeks of age.
  • Puppies display increased mobility and are sleeping less.
  • All senses are active and interaction with littermates is developing and increasing rapidly.
  • Primary teeth continue erupting and by 4 weeks of age the pup will begin sampling from a food bowl; mother`s milk remains the main source of nourishment.
  • Able to regulate body temperature.
  • Awareness and a miniscule amount of control of body functions - will move away from sleeping area to eliminate.
  • Vocalization becomes louder.
  • By five weeks of age the secondary awareness or identification phase is apparent.
  • All baby teeth have erupted although it may be six weeks of age for smaller breeds. A good quality puppy food moistened with water should be available. The mother is nursing less.
  • Interaction with littermates becomes more vigorous and involves play fighting.
  • Puppies will investigate and grab objects, chew or engage in a game of tug of war with littermates.
  • Confidence in their familiar environment is evident and a pecking order is developing although the pecking order may change daily. Personality traits are becoming apparent. 
  • When removed from their `safe`environment, some puppies may freeze with fear while another may react with great enthusiasm. Most will be something in the middle, displaying caution until they have adjusted to the new surroundings.
  • Five weeks of age is the beginning of the very important socialization phase. 

by Kelly