Pit Bulls are naturally medium height and very muscular and strong dogs. As puppies, they are small and cuddly little creatures. They are very active and playful breed; they are a great companion if you are an active person as well. Pit Bulls require particular attention during their development, considering training and nutrition. From the moment they are born to a fully developed adult dog, they go through several development phases. The time you spend with your dog training can make a huge difference in speeding up or slowing down its development. If you got yourself a Pit Bull puppy or perhaps rescued one, you can guess how old is it based on indicators that every phase of development has.
1 - 3 Weeks, Phase One
Puppies are born with their eyes and ears closed, so they can't see or hear for a couple of weeks. They are also born without any teeth, so most of this period pup will spend eating and resting. This phase is where they are developing the most. After two weeks, more or less, they will start to gain vision, and a little bit later they will start to hear also. Around this time the teeth will start to appear, and at the end of this phase the puppy will start to be aware of the world around it, and the barking will begin.
3 - 7 Weeks, Phase Two
At this phase, Pit Bull puppy will get playful and more social with the other puppies and humans. He will start to learn how to be a dog, so it’s important that he stays with his mom and other puppies. As his teeth will continue to grow, his gums will be itchy, and so he will bite everything around him, objects and other puppies or humans. During this time he will learn from his surroundings the most, so this is where the guidance should begin. It's important to have in mind that he is still constrained, fragile and has a short attention span.
Around week four it’s appropriate to start giving food to the pup, just at the time his mother stops feeding him. He should still spend the most of the time with his mother, no more than 10 minutes per day should they be separated. Puppies that are separated too early from their mother tend to be more nervous and have a difficult time being trained and socialized.
Around seven weeks little pit should be running short distances and barking correctly. This is the proper time for him to receive his first shots. It's important at this phase of development to be caring as much as possible because any traumatic events could develop negative behavior when he's an adult.
7 - 12 Weeks, Phase Three
For a well behaved and emotionally mature dog, it's important for a pup to be with his mother until he is 7 - 10 weeks old. When the puppy is at this age, it can already be taught simple commands. Also, he should be around other dogs and humans enough to eliminate the fear of contact and presence of others. The pup is still sensitive at this phase, so it should not be exhausted much or do anything that may be stressful for it. He might show fear towards everything at this time, so harsh discipline is not advised. You can teach him how to sit, come, stay and start the leash training. Don’t isolate the puppy from human encounters at this phase, as he still learns behaviors that are going to affect him when he is an adult. Somewhere in the middle of this phase his bowels and bladder are going to normalize and come under better control, so he will finally sleep through the whole night.
12 - 16 Weeks, Phase Four
At this phase, puppies are getting more independent, and they will begin to challenge your authority. Like every child, he might start to refuse to obey your commands. This time is best to start training the puppy so he can learn what is acceptable and what is not. You should be consistent with your commands, so he remembers what he isn't allowed to do.
It’s the best to use commands like a simple “No!” exclamation, combine that with a few minutes of ignoring and he should understand that what he did was wrong. Don’t play fighting or any strength challenge games, as the pup will understand that it’s fine to fight with you, which is not and it will lead to loss of the authority.
Around this phase, the puppy is like a teenager, so his sexual maturity will begin. He will start to be territorial and protective. He also might get shy and worried around new people. You should start noticing the change in his coat along his spine,
as it will begin to change from puppy coat to adult one.
Close to an end of this phase, his adult teeth will start to come out, so chewing is going to be very intensive. He will bite on everything he comes across. It's a great idea to get him a chewing toy, so his teeth come out healthy.
16 - 40 Weeks, Phase Five
The pup will continue to grow and develop, but a little faster during this phase. It's very probable that the small pit will start to test himself and you, as he will continue to challenge your authority. You should stay consistent with restrictions for bad, and rewards for good behavior he shows. Continue with teaching him the commands, and don't encourage biting as it can lead to bad behavior later in his life.
Too much aggressive games can lead to dominance issues, and you won't be able to control him when he is an adult. Somewhere around eight weeks, male pups will begin to lift their leg, and females may get into their first heat as their sexual maturity progresses. This is the right time to get the pup spayed or neutered to prevent health problems, unexpected puppies, and behavior issues.
At this phase make sure you keep the puppy on the leash, he can be very unpredictable at this time, and if you let him off his leash, especially in a public place, he might get hurt or even get himself killed. Continue his obedience training and basic commands, also be careful when he’s around children as he might want to establish dominance over them, what can lead to biting and fighting.
40 Weeks - 1 Year, Phase Six
Your Pit Bull should reach his mature size somewhere at this phase. He will gain the look of an adult dog, but he will still act like a little puppy. The increase in energy will be noticeable, and he will need at least three hours of running or playing to satisfy its needs. Behavior problems may be developed in this phase if the dog is kept too much in the house or fenced so he cannot get enough of exercise.
Also, do not challenge him with aggressive reactions on his bad behavior. Use a firm voice for a bad behavior and treats for a good one. This is now a good time to start a more advanced training that can include more physical exercises and activities around other dogs. Make sure that the dogs he interacts with are not aggressive and are well mannered.
Over 1 Year, Phase Seven
Somewhere between one and two years of age, he should reach full sexual and physical growth. Males are usually about 18-21 inches tall and weigh around 35-60 pounds, while females are around 17-20 inches tall and weigh around 30-50 lbs. The growth rate will decrease as you will transition from puppy to adult dog food. He will continue to change his muscle structure and weight based on a number of exercises and the food he's fed to. To reach his full potential, your pup should be fed with the best dog food for pit bulls you can find, and he has to be physically active.
Raising a dog is like raising a kid, try to remember that each time he did something wrong or if you think that dogs don’t develop their personality based on the handling of their owner. There are no aggressive or bad dogs by nature, the dog is a man’s best friend, and his behavior in the adulthood is all up to you, how you will handle him when he’s a little puppy.