Birth to 2 weeks: Neonatal Period
From the moment your Yorkshire Terrier puppy is born, until they are approximately two weeks of age, their strongest bond will be with their mother.
Puppies are born blind and deaf with only their sense of smell to help them find their mother, and are unable to regulate their own body temperature, which means that they depend solely on their mother and other litter mates for warmth. A puppy separated from huddling with its litter mates can quickly die from hypothermia.
During the neonatal period of a puppy’s life (up to two weeks of age) the puppy is most influenced by his mother with only their senses of smell and touch to help them root about to find their mother’s scent-marked nipples.
The first milk the mother produces is rich in essential antibodies that provide passive immunity and help protect the puppies from disease during their early weeks of life.
It’s a snore fest for a puppy’s first two weeks of life as they sleep nearly 90% of the time. The other 10% they spend nursing while all of their energy is reserved for growing and doubling their weight.
A newborn Yorkie puppy cannot support their own weight until they are approximately 15 days old and in preparation for standing and walking they develop their muscles and coordination by crawling around and over their siblings and their mother.
2 to 4 weeks: Transitional Period
The age of two to four weeks of age is a transitional period, when the puppy’s ears and eyes begin to open and their siblings become more influential in their new world.
By the time the puppy is approximately five weeks old, their eyesight will be well developed, they will be walking, wagging their tail and barking as they engage in socialization and playtime with their siblings.
3 to 12 weeks: Socialization
Yorkie puppies can easily become overwhelmed by intense noises or loud surroundings and may experience fear during eight to ten weeks of age that could manifest itself again around the age of sixteen weeks.
6 month to 2 years: Adolescence
From 6 months to about 2 years, the adolescent or juvenile period in a puppy’s life is marked by increased signs of independence and dominance, and in the case of intact puppies that have not yet been spayed or neutered, around the six month mark the beginnings of sexual behavior will present themselves.
During the adolescent phase of your puppy’s life, it will be even more important to continue their socialization than it was when they were much younger.
This is because adolescence is also a time when many puppies will start to show the first signs of being aggressive toward other animals, other dogs or even people they don’t know. Many puppies will start to show fear or suspicion toward unknown people that can easily escalate to growling, lunging and eventually biting.
Oftentimes an adolescent puppy will begin to show signs of aggression because they are no longer being socialized in different places and with unknown people and dogs as they were during their earlier months.
When you and your puppy are caught in a daily routine that keeps you close to home and only seeing the same people or dogs week in and week out, this can often lead to de-socialization as they begin to mistrust and/or fear strangers.
For instance, if your once happy puppy is now growling at other dogs or small children, they are telling you that they are uncomfortable or fearful and you need to listen.
This does not mean immediately removing your puppy from all contact with strangers or unknown dogs, and in fact, it’s just the opposite, because it’s very important that your puppy continues to have happy experiences with strangers in order to prevent behavior problems that could become serious somewhere down the road.
If your puppy continues to display signs of fear or aggression around certain stimuli, you will need to engage the services of a professional to help you find ways to desensitize or counter condition your puppy by safely exposing them to the stimulus that causes the fear or aggression.
Puppies are usually weaned around six to seven weeks, and at this time will still be learning important skills from their mother and their other litter mates. In order to gain the full benefit from the teaching of other role model canines, ideally, puppies should remain with their mothers and litter mates for at least 12 weeks.
Too early a separation from the puppy’s mother and litter mates can result in the puppy failing to develop the appropriate social skills that are acceptable around other dogs and people which they will need to draw upon as they grow into adult dogs.
Puppies develop physical coordination through play with litter mates, and also learn valuable life lessons that develop their personality, such as how hard they can bite, when they are being too rough and what their ranking is within the litter.
Even though a dog has the capacity to be receptive to new experiences and the ability to learn new lessons throughout its life, a puppy who is not given the time to acquire their birth to eight week old skills, because they have been removed from their mother and litter mates too early, may have difficulty learning these early skills later on in life.
Every puppy transitions through incredible growth and development over a very short period of time and it will be up to you, as their human guardian, to make sure that the early developmental stages of their life are safely monitored and wisely guided.