Pit bull puppies are warm, cuddly blank slates. Raising a well-mannered, good-tempered dog is a challenge for any owner. If you study facts about your breed, do research regarding the care and training of pit bulls and follow the experts' advice, you will have a better chance for a great result. You will attain the satisfaction and joy of owning a loyal, calm and mature dog that you will be proud to have as a member of your household.
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Stages of Pit Bull Puppy Development:
Stage Number One - 1 to 3 Weeks
Pit bull puppies are born with their eyes and ears closed and are therefore blind and deaf for the first couple of weeks. They also have no teeth at birth. During this period the puppy will spend most of his time sleeping and eating. This is when most of the puppy's growth occurs. About 2 weeks of age his eyes will begin to open and at 3 weeks his ears will open. At this stage his teeth will also begin to emerge as white points through his gums. At the end of three weeks the puppy will begin to bark and to interact with those around him.
Stage Number Two - 3 to 7 Weeks
During stage 2 the pit bull pup will learn how to behave from his mother and littermates. His brothers and sisters will not tolerate a lot of bullying, too rough play or hard biting from him. During this stage the pup will continue to grow rapidly and become more social with his littermates and the humans he encounters. It is important for him to experience socialization with other dogs and as many humans as possible during this time. This is when the most rapid period of learning occurs. Gentle management and guidance are critical during these weeks. Be sure to consider his physical limitations and short span of attention during your interactions with the pup. Do not subject the puppy to anything that may cause him to become very frightened.
By 7 weeks the pup should be running short distances, barking appropriately, wagging his tail and eating puppy food. He should receive his first shots and worming at 6 or 7 weeks of age. Try to make any trips to the veterinarian as fun as possible. Any large physical or psychological traumas during this stage have a more lasting effect than at most other times because adverse events are generalized and he may develop an avoidance response.
Stage Number Three - 7 to 12 Weeks
A pup should not be taken away from his mother until he is 7 to 10 weeks of age. It is important for his mom to have time to wean him and teach him so he will develop well and become an emotionally mature, well-behaved dog. It is appropriate for a puppy of this age to attend puppy classes or be "home schooled" in obedience and simple commands. Lots of socialization is important at this stage. A pit bull puppy may be afraid of humans at first but will rapidly learn the fun and benefits of contact and interaction with people. A lot of play time with other dogs and humans is very beneficial for a pit bull pup at this stage of development. Do not exhaust him or do anything that will be too stressful for him at this young age.
Stage Number Four - 12 to 16 Weeks
Your puppy will become more independent at this stage and may begin to question your authority and challenge you. He may not come when called or play fetch as he formerly did. If you have not previously done so, bring your pit bull puppy to obedience training at this stage so he will learn what is acceptable behavior for a good pet dog. Be consistent with what is and is absolutely not allowed.
Sexual maturity will have begun around this time. He may become more protective and territorial and have a stronger resurgence regarding dominance with his owners. He may become more apprehensive, shy and timid around new people. His puppy coat will begin to be replaced with his adult coat, beginning along the spine.
About this time his adult teeth will be coming in and your pup will start chewing everything he can get his mouth around. Put everything you don't want chewed out of his reach, such as shoes and your child's stuffed animals. Supply appropriate chew bones or toys for him to teethe on.
Stage Number Five - 16 to 40 Weeks
The pup will continue to mature and grow at an astounding rate during this time. The pit bull puppy is likely to escalate testing your authority during this stage. Stay consistent and firm in teaching him who is boss by firmly scolding him for bad behavior and rewarding good behavior. Continue with socialization skills during this time and teach him commands such as going outdoors or getting into his crate. Do not encourage mouthing or biting as this can lead to big problems later. Avoid too many rounds of games such as tug-of-war with your pit bull pup because this type of game can lead to dominance issues in some puppies.
As sexual maturity progresses the male will begin to lift his leg and the female may go into her first heat anywhere from 6 to 12 months of age. You should get your pup spayed or neutered at this age to prevent potential behavior and health problems and unexpected, unwanted puppies.
Stage Number Six - 40 Weeks to 1 Year
Your dog will probably reach mature size during this stage. Even though he may look like an adult dog, he will still act like a puppy. At this stage he will need three to four hours a day of running around or active play to burn off his boundless energy. Keeping a pet of this age in the house or fenced in so he cannot get enough exercise can cause behavior problems. Do not give an aggressive response to bad behavior. Discourage bad behavior with a firm voice and give treats or other rewards for good actions.
Stage Number Seven - Over 1 Year
Your pit bull will reach full sexual and growth development between 1 and 2 years of age. His growth rate will decrease as you begin changing his puppy food to adult dog food. His nutritional needs will change as he matures. Dogs of this breed must be kept well fed to reach their full potential.
You must wholeheartedly invest in the consistent training, socialization and exercise of your pit bull to have a good result. You will now see the culmination of all your love, training and exercise routines. Firm but loving care will result in a fine adult dog.