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New Puppy Care: 8-12 Weeks

Welcome to the age of adolescence, New Puppy Care

At 8-12 weeks old, puppies are ready to go to their new homes. During this period, they undergo many changes. While it is important to use discretion when choosing appropriate social interactions for your puppy, they should not be placed in isolation—this may cause fearful behaviors to develop. Real-world example: Consider Mia, a 10-week-old Labrador Retriever. Her owner, Sarah, ensures Mia meets friendly, vaccinated neighborhood dogs in controlled environments, which helps Mia become a confident and well-adjusted adult dog, New Puppy Care.

Essential Supplies

Before bringing your puppy home, make sure you have the following:

  • Tags with identification

  • Leash

  • Food and water bowls

  • Toys

  • Large crate (depending on their size or their eventual adult size)

  • Bed/bedding


During this time, puppies are rapidly growing. They have increased independence and start to test their boundaries. Teething also occurs now—this is considered the peak time for destructive chewing. This can be corrected by diverting the puppy’s attention to what they should be chewing on and giving them praise for chewing on what is appropriate by using a praising tone, a clicker, or treats.

Real-world example: John noticed his 9-week-old Beagle, Max, chewing on furniture. He provided Max with chew toys and praised him each time he used them, reducing destructive chewing significantly.


When placed in their new home, common puppy behaviors include biting, tail wagging, yipping, and nipping. Nipping is a puppy’s primary form of communication—a way to signal that they are ready to play and to test the limits of their new home. However, nipping should be discouraged. In the 8-16-week window, it may be difficult for puppies to grasp complex training concepts. An introduction to commands (their name, positive reinforcement of behaviors that you want to encourage) can be done at this time.

Puppies at 3-12 weeks old are in an important socialization period. The most critical part of socialization development is the fear period, from 8-10 weeks. During this time, puppies are very sensitive to traumatic experiences, so keep that in mind when beginning puppy training. Training should focus more on praise for behaviors that you would like to encourage, such as treats for using the designated bathroom area. Training should not involve harsh punishments or isolation.

Real-world example: Lisa's 8-week-old Golden Retriever, Daisy, was initially scared of loud noises. Lisa used positive reinforcement and gradually exposed Daisy to different sounds, helping her become more comfortable over time.


During this time, your puppy should be completely weaned from a milk diet and should be eating an AAFCO-approved puppy food. Puppies should be fed three to four times a day. However, the frequency may change based on the size of your dog and other special considerations. Talk to your veterinarian about finding the best puppy food for your puppy and an appropriate feeding schedule.

Real-world example: Mark's veterinarian recommended a specific puppy food for his 10-week-old German Shepherd, Rex. By following the vet's feeding schedule, Rex has been growing healthily and energetically.


It’s critical to be consistent with training and to reinforce commands. If not, your puppy may regress and develop unfavorable behaviors. Training sessions can be made fun and interactive with treats, praise, and toys to help keep your puppy’s interest during training and help them associate it with positive experiences.

Skills to work on include:

  • Socialization: Expose your puppy to new people, animals, objects, and environments. Encourage curiosity with positive reinforcement.

  • Low-stress handling: Gradually introduce your puppy to being touched all over, using treats and praise to make the experience positive.

  • Independence training: Ensure your puppy has their own space and encourage them to spend time alone, even when you are home.

  • Housetraining/Crate training: Use a crate to help with house training by creating a comfortable, positive space for your puppy.

Real-world example: Emily's 9-week-old Poodle, Bella, quickly learned to be comfortable in her crate and was house-trained within a few weeks thanks to consistent training and positive reinforcement.

Health Conditions

During this time, your puppy’s vaccine schedule is ongoing. While it is important to let your puppy go outside, enroll in puppy classes, and generally explore the world, make sure your puppy has safe experiences with pets you are familiar with, or pets that are around the same age group, to reduce the risk of exposure to diseases. At this time, they are at risk for contracting intestinal parasites from chewing on sticks, grass, and being exposed to diseases they may not have started vaccination for or completed. They may also be around other pets with unknown vaccination and deworming status.

Real-world example: Sarah regularly takes Mia to her veterinarian for vaccinations and check-ups, ensuring she stays healthy and protected from common puppy ailments.


During this time, your puppy will be going to the vet quite a bit. Most vaccines require multiple rounds of boosters to be effective. When puppies are older than 16 weeks, most vaccines need an initial shot, then a booster for the series to be completed.

Real-world example: Jack's 11-week-old Border Collie, Finn, receives his vaccinations on schedule, keeping him protected from preventable diseases.

FAQs about New Puppy Care

Q: How often should I take my puppy to the vet during the 8-12 week period? A: During this period, puppies should visit the vet every 3-4 weeks for vaccinations and check-ups. Your vet will create a schedule based on your puppy's needs.

Q: What should I do if my puppy seems scared or anxious? A: Use positive reinforcement to create positive associations with new experiences. Gradually expose your puppy to new environments and situations at their own pace.

Q: How can I prevent my puppy from chewing on furniture? A: Provide plenty of appropriate chew toys and praise your puppy for using them. Redirect them from furniture to their toys if they start to chew on inappropriate items.

Q: When should I start training my puppy? A: Start training your puppy as soon as you bring them home. Begin with simple commands and gradually introduce more complex training as they grow and develop.

Q: How can I help my puppy get used to being alone? A: Encourage independence by giving your puppy their own space and gradually increasing the amount of time they spend alone. Use positive reinforcement to make alone time a positive experience.

Importance of Play and Mental Stimulation

Providing play and mental stimulation for your puppy is essential for their overall well-being and happiness. Incorporate enrichment toys and activities into their daily routine to keep their minds and bodies active.

Real-world example: Laura uses puzzle toys to keep her 10-week-old Cocker Spaniel, Buddy, engaged and mentally stimulated. This helps prevent boredom and reduces destructive behaviors.


Socialization is crucial during the 8-12 week period. Introduce your puppy to new people, animals, and environments in a controlled and positive manner. This will help them become well-adjusted and confident adults.

Real-world example: Megan's 9-week-old French Bulldog, Luna, attends puppy socialization classes where she meets other puppies and learns to interact positively with them.

Final Thoughts

Caring for a new puppy during the 8-12 week period is a rewarding experience that requires patience, consistency, and love. By following these guidelines and seeking advice from your veterinarian, you can ensure your puppy grows into a healthy, happy, and well-behaved adult dog.


The first few weeks with your new puppy are crucial for their development and future behavior. By providing proper care, nutrition, training, and socialization, you set the foundation for a lifetime of happiness and companionship. Remember, your veterinarian is your best resource for any questions or concerns you may have during this time.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact us at:

We are here to help you and your new puppy every step of the way.

New Puppy Care: 8-12 Weeks
New Puppy Care: 8-12 Weeks


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