A 12 week old puppy has usually got their paws firmly under the table, and your puppy has been a part of your family for up to four weeks now. With familiarity come some new and surprising problems for first time puppy parents. This is the age when biting ramps up, and potty training can find itself flying out of the window. Experience has taught me some tweaks you can make to your home, and to your puppy routines, that will get you back on track in two shakes of a puppy’s tail.
- Your daily puppy routine
- Over excitement and biting
- Training and socializing your puppy
- Health, exercise and checkups
Raising and caring for a 12 week old puppy can take a lot of energy and time! But, it’s worth it when you see how your dog is developing. Make sure you’re sticking to a proper training and socialization schedule for your puppy. And, don’t put your pup on the ground outside unless they have finished their vaccinations.
12 week old puppy schedule
Your schedule will of course vary depending upon your own routine, but I find this is a good rule of thumb for 12 week old puppies:
- 6am Morning! Straight out for a pee
- 7am Meal
- 7.15am Potty break
- 9am Potty break
- 11am Potty break
- 12 noon Meal
- 12.15pm Potty break
- 2pm Potty break
- 4pm Potty break
- 5pm Meal
- 5.15pm Potty break
- 7.30pm Potty break
- 9pm Take water up
- 10pm Last pee and into the crate
Your 12 week old puppy might be able to last up to 3 hours between pees now, but we want to set her up to win. To do this, we give her lots of opportunities to go in the backyard, and not need to hold her bladder for too long. And always give her the opportunity to poop outdoors after a meal.
By now, your puppy should have a lot more control over his bladder than when you first brought him home. But, this doesn’t mean that you will never have accidents, or that your puppy will be able to go all day without needing the toilet. Some puppies take longer than others to become fully housetrained. So, stick with the good habits you’ve developed, and make sure any accidents indoors are thoroughly cleaned up.
How much should a 12 week old puppy sleep?
You might have expected that as your puppy grows, they will drop those day time sleeps. But in fact, most puppies are still spending more of their time asleep than they do awake. If you are lucky they should be sleeping through the night now, but don’t worry if there are still a few hiccups there. Getting into a good bedtime routine can be tricky, but your pup’s bladder is probably big enough to go the night now. So it’s time to help them settle down for a full 8 hours.
12 Week Old Puppy Behavior
It is important to know what you should expect in terms of your puppy’s behavior at 12 weeks old. Temperament differs between breeds, but there are some common traits that all 12 week old puppies will share.
They are all still likely to be playful, curious, and excited to be around you. And one of the best things about puppies is the fun games you can play with them! Playing is a great way to bond with your pup, and a great way for him to burn some energy inside the house. Chase, tug, hide and seek, blowing bubbles and puppy massage are all great ways to play together.
Playing Helps with Other Good Habits
There are so many games that are great for puppies. Lots of them are simple, and can use treats and toys from your house. Puppy games can even help with training. You can see how this works by taking a look at our online puppy training courses!
Teething and Biting
One thing you might not have been prepared for is the teething that starts at around 10 to 12 weeks old. Your puppy might bite during play, but may also chew to relieve pain from teething.
Most biting is not related to teething. It’s normal puppy behavior! So, it’s important to learn how to get through this painful stage. If you have small children in your home, you should teach them the best way to act around puppies. This will help to reduce the number of hard bites they suffer from.
Puppy bites can hurt. And 12 week old puppies can even draw blood. This biting is often accompanied by snarling and growling. But this doesn’t necessarily mean your puppy is aggressive.
How to Minimise Biting
Biting will naturally start to reduce by the time your puppy is around 4 to 5 months old. But, while your puppy is in the biting stage, this behavior can be made worse by excitement, attention, and poor bite inhibition. If you reward your puppy for biting by giving him more attention or excitable play, the biting can increase.
We have a 5 step plan to reduce biting in this article. But to summarise, supervise people when they’re playing with your puppy. Separate your puppy if he is biting, and don’t reward his behavior with attention or excitement. Don’t use punishment, simply remove your attention.
You may want to place your puppy in a puppy zone. Squealing or yelping can make your pup more excited. You can also train your puppy not to bite.
12 Week Old Puppy Training
Training should take place from the time you bring your dog home. You might have noticed we included three meal times in the routine earlier.
These are not times to give your dog a third of their daily rations – they are the times for the leftovers from the part of the day! Most of your puppy’s kibble at this stage should be used in training and to reward behaviors you’d like to see more of.
Hand them some kibble whenever they lay down calmly, keep their paws on the floor instead of jumping up. Anything you’d like to see more of, reward!
12 Week Old Puppy Socialization
Socialization is the most important method to ensure that your puppy grows up to be happy, friendly, and confident. The window for socialization actually starts to close at 12 weeks. But, it can last until 16 weeks in many puppies. So, don’t stop socializing your puppy.
Make sure you are still taking your 12 week old puppy out to new experiences, locations, and people. This will help to reinforce the socialization you have done up until now, and keep your puppy from becoming fearful in new situations.
Make sure you don’t put your puppy down on the ground if they aren’t fully vaccinated. If you are struggling to lift them, you might want to invest in a harness, or puppy backpack! We can’t overemphasise how important socialization is for all puppies! So, make sure they experience as much as possible even now that they are 12 weeks old.
Puppy Health and Care
There are three main areas we want to focus on for the health and care of your puppy. These are vaccinations, feeding schedules, and exercise needs. But, there is also general care to think about. Let’s get started by taking a look at whether your 12 week puppy will still need vaccinations first.
Depending on where you’re from, your puppy’s vaccinations might end at 12 weeks old. Generally, in the UK, puppies will receive their second combined vaccine at 12 weeks old, and will need no more. In the USA, puppies often receive their third combined vaccine, a rabies vaccine, and possibly a Leptospirosis or Lyme vaccine at 12 weeks. But, they may also need a fourth combined vaccine at 16 weeks old.
This vaccine schedule may differ between practices. So, speak to your vet to find out exactly when your puppy will receive his last vaccine. It’s important to wait until your puppy has completed their full vaccine schedule before you begin to put them on the ground outside in new places. You can read more about puppy vaccines here.
Puppies need less exercise than you might think, even though they can seem full of energy! Some breeders suggest 5 minutes of exercise per month of age – so a maximum 15 minute walk outside for a 12 week old puppy. This timeframe doesn’t include time spent playing and running around in the house.
Overexercising your puppy can cause problems with your dog’s joints as they grow. It can strain vulnerable growing dogs, and lead to issues like hip dysplasia. So, make sure to avoid over-exercising your puppy. Especially if you have a large breed dog.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website
My 12 week old lab is not sleeping through the night. We pull her water at 8 and she is in the kennel by 10. She is waking up every 2-3 hours still and awake for 1-2 hours. Us humans are not getting any sleep. Any tips on getting her through the night?
Our 12 weeks old puppy suddenly started to growl at us when we tryed to pet him while he eats his fresh meet bone. He is not food agressive and we can pet him whatever time we want when he eats his food, or has his toys or just regular dog treats. I can easely remove anything out of his mouth when he picked up something. So he is not resource or food guarding dog, but the growling when he has his bone is very upsetting. But in a while of chewing on his bone, he usually comes to us whith his bone in his mouth and then we can pet him, take the bone, and if we would want to even chew it with him on the other side of the bone – no growling what so ever! Can you tell me, please how we should react on this (we have small children) and does this behavior lead to resource or food guarding?
We are suddenly having issues with our 12 week old pup wanting to focus on picking up and eating sticks,mulch,even rocks. It’s the first thing he wants to do when taken out side for a potty break. I feel like I am constantly taking things out of his mouth.
Any suggestions about how to redirect this behavior?
My 12 week old husky mix is always biting !! I try to redirect his mouth towards a toy but it’s not getting any better. Any suggestions?