Your puppy is now 3 months old, adorable! You might have had them from 8 weeks and they are now really getting their paws under the table, or you may have only just brought them home. Either way, a puppy schedule is really useful at 12 weeks. Pups love routines and schedules. It helps pups of this age find their groove…they like to know what’s coming next,  it also gives us a clear puppy training plan to work to! Everyone loves a plan right? 

At this age, puppies are only a fraction of what they’ll be as adults. They have all the cute traits of younger puppies, but they are also a little bit taller and longer, and they’ll be teething, a lot! 

In this 12 week old puppy training guide we’re going to help you figure out what works for you and your puppy, what kind of behaviour you should expect from your puppy at 12 weeks of age and what to start doing, what food you can feed a 12 week old puppy, and how much exercise they might need. Oh and, of course, what comes next after 12 weeks. Relax, we’ve got you covered!

For a detailed week by week training programme, download the Zigzag puppy training app today and give your puppy the best start! We’ve designed our puppy training app to work on your puppy’s emotional and developmental milestones so that you get the right lessons delivered to you and your pup when needed. We also have a team of puppy coaches on hand to be like your BF(dog trainer)F during this testing time! 

Puppy Schedule: 12 weeks

A 12 week old puppy’s behaviour personality and behaviour and personality is probably quite different to when they come to your home at 8 or 10 weeks of age! For a toy breed like a Chihuahua, you might have only just brought them home, whereas a larger breed like a Labrador may have been home with you for a month already.

You may have noticed your pup’s confidence increasing and decreasing over the time you’ve had them when they might be going through fear or sensitive periods

At 12 weeks of age, your puppy is still very much a baby, but they’re also curious, playful and likely teething, and teething means biting… aAll the time! Yes, your 12 week old puppy will be chewing on everything. To help we recommend getting plenty of toys like Kongs, interactive puzzle toys, and edible chews to take care of that. They gotta have an outlet for all that chewing, and better on toys and chews than on you, trust us!

Your pup is a bundle of energy, but sleep is super important at this age. We bang on about sleeping a lot here at Zigzag. Your pup should sleep a lot, but we know you’re probably counting the days until you can take them out for some proper puppy exercise

Your puppy probably puts everything in their mouth, so check that you’re handling that correctly, as prevention of resource guarding, is much better dealt with now than in an adult dog.

A 12 week old puppy’s daily schedule will generally look something like this – be ready for early starts and lots of opportunities for your puppy to go to the toilet.

5-7amTime to wake up and take your puppy to the toilet.
5-7amSee if your puppy will go back to sleep after their first toilet break. We all deserve a bit more sleep don’t we?
7ishBreakfast – In a puzzle feeder or Kong to keep them busy and unbloated. 
7.15Toilet Break
7.30Play and Training
8.15Toilet Break
10.30Toilet Break
11.15Toilet Break
11.30Play and Training
11.45Toilet Break
12.00Play and Training
2.30Toilet Break
2.45Play and Training
3.00Dinner Time
3.15Toilet Break
3.30Play and Training
3.45Toilet Break
6.00Toilet Break
7pmSupper Time
7.15Toilet Break
7.30Play and Training
7.45Toilet Break
8.00Relaxation and wind down time
10.45Toilet Break
11pm – 12Bed Time
3amWake up and take your puppy to the toilet. Yes, you read correctly, 3:00 am.
3.15Calmly go back to bed.
5-7amGood morning! Start all over – first stop, toilet area. 
Labrador puppy with brown collar looking into camera
Photo by Bill Stephan on Unsplash

What you should start doing at 12-weeks

At 12 weeks of age you can start on all kinds of training! But for now we’ll really focus on life skills training and how to have a confident and well mannered puppy – the tricks can come later. 

Socialise your puppy during their socialisation period – and beyond!

12 weeks is the prime age to continue the socialisation training you have been doing already. Your puppy needs to see and meet all different kinds of animals and people in order to build up a knowledge bank of experience. While there definitely is a socialisation window that you want to try to do lots in, it doesn’t mean you stop doing any of these things once your puppy is past the 12 week point.

Teach your puppy about scary noises

Thunderstorms, fireworks, buses and lorries are all common noises that your adult dog will hear. Teach your puppy they’re no big deal while in their socialisation period. By doing this your puppy will breeze through holiday fireworks and be happy and confident on busy roads

Crate train (or not) your puppy

Many people choose to crate train their puppies, others choose not to. It’s totally a personal decision but for many people having a safe place like a crate or crate and playpen that they can leave their puppy free from dangers, is much easier than puppy proofing their whole house, though it’s never a bad idea to do that too!

Continue toilet training your puppy

It’s not unreasonable for your 12 week old puppy not to be toilet trained yet, don’t worry! They’ll get there with consistency and kind training, one day at a time.

Read our guide to toilet training a puppy in 7 days, and you’ll get toilet training off to a great start in as little as a week.

Teach your puppy to come back when called

Once your puppy has learnt their name, you can teach them a recall. Days out in the park and off lead fun are coming soon, so start training this now if you haven’t already!

Teach your puppy to be happy home alone

Puppies have evolved to be with other dogs and humans, it’s a strong survival mechanism that makes them cry out when they’re alone and distressed. Teaching them to be happy at home alone is like a muscle that needs building, day after day, little by little. 

Read our full guide to puppy separation anxiety tips, and learn how long you can leave your puppy alone for.

Teach your puppy the rules of your home

Pups thrive on consistency and everyone in your home being on the same page. Write down a list of rules like pup is or isn’t allowed on the sofa, and make sure everyone plays along and agrees to them. Sticking them to the fridge is a great way for everyone to get an understanding of what’s what.

Give your puppy a routine

Understanding day to day what comes next makes for predictability and helps puppies grow in confidence. Read our day by day training schedule to understand when to take them to the toilet, when they should be sleeping, playing, training and eating! 

Enrol in some puppy socialisation classes

Puppy socialisation classes provide a safe place to train your puppy with other puppies around, and has the added benefit of having a dog trainer on hand to help you. Use a positive reinforcement trainer from a member of the UK Dog Charter.

Puppy sitting down and licking their lips
Photo by Olga Andreyanova on Unsplash

12-Week-Old Puppy Behaviour 

You can expect all of the following from a 12 week old puppy, you might find some of this surprising!

12 week old puppies are cheeky rascals

Puppies are super playful and curious at 12 weeks old, with a lot of energy. They’ll probably get the zoomies and dash around the house at a million miles an hour too. What they want most at this age is your attention. Play with them. It will be great for your relationship, and it’s fun for you too!

A 12 week old puppy will still sleep a lot

Puppies need to sleep a great deal, even at 12 weeks old. Not only are they physically developing at a fast pace, but they’re also mentally developing and need that downtime to recharge. Read our full article on puppy sleep to understand why they need so much shut-eye.

Biting and mouthing pups at 12 weeks old

No one really warns you how much little puppies bite and mouth. They basically use their mouths for everything, and everything goes in their mouth – they don’t have hands to investigate things after all. They will likely still be mouthing on you too!

Chewing from a 12 week old puppy

Your 12 week old pup will likely be chewing on anything and everything. Puppies really do try chewing the craziest things. They’ll be chewing on your door frames, dining chairs, shoes, anything with a bit of give as they’re teething

Once your puppy loses their baby teeth, they will still be chewing, so make sure lots of chew toys are available.

Puppies of 12 weeks old are often stealing items

What starts out as innocent curiosity can often turn into a battle of wills or a fun game as you chase after them when they have a stolen croc or dustpan brush in their mouth.

Puppies of 12 weeks old can be possessive about ‘their precious’, and this, in turn, can end up in a resource guarding situation if you don’t handle it correctly.

A sudden loss of confidence is common in a 12 week old puppy

Puppy fear periods are a real thing, and during the first few months you have your puppy at home, they will be going through different phases as they emotionally develop. One week your puppy might be fine with something, and the next, the same things might frighten them. Positive experiences at this age are important for long term emotional resilience. 

Your 12 week old puppy is still a baby really

Don’t expect too much of them, they may have grown a lot, but they’re still tiny little pups. They probably don’t want to be on their own much, and you’ll probably need a puppy sitter when you go out. Of course at 12 weeks old, they often look just like miniature versions of their adult selves, but they’re nowhere near that mentally yet. 

What should I be feeding my 12-week-old puppy?

At 12 weeks old, your puppy should still be on puppy food. Puppy food is specially formulated to meet the needs of a growing pup, with the correct ratios of fats, proteins and carbs and all the important minerals that are needed. 

Whether you want to feed your puppy dry or wet food, raw food, or a vet formulated home cooked diet is fine. All that actually matters is that you’re feeding the correct amount of food for your puppy’s age and weight, and it’s nutritionally complete.

Check your puppy’s food label to ensure it says complete and not complementary. Read our full article on puppy nutrition for more information on why this is important. 

Puppy lying down and looking into the camera
Photo by Undine Tackmann on Unsplash

What exercise will my 12-week-old puppy need?

A 12 week old puppy may or may not be going for walks, it all depends on what your Vet advises you regarding your puppy’s vaccination schedule.

They do need to go out and see the world. This might be in a puppy bag, stroller or in a car carrier and off out for a drive, but on lead walking should be restricted to 15 minutes twice a day.

Read more about puppy exercise in our full guide, which has a great table to show you how much to exercise at what age.

Puppy Schedule 12 weeks: What now?

Carry on your puppy schedule at 12 weeks and enrol on a puppy socialisation class. They’ll get to train around other puppies, and the dog trainer will challenge you to do more with your puppy and keep on training. 

We recommend looking for a member who’s a member of a professional body that uses positive reinforcement based methods. 

It’s an idea to introduce your puppy to another dog at this age if you haven’t already. A calm friend’s dog who is fully vaccinated is ideal. 

We hope we’ve given some ideas of what to expect from a 12 week old puppy and what kind of things you’ll want to start teaching them, according to their emotional needs and socialisation stage. 

For further reading, head on over to our puppy training blog. We have so much more to share with you about training your pup.
For a detailed week by week training programme, download the Zigzag app and get your puppy on their journey to being a well behaved canine citizen. We don’t want you to feel alone and have a team of professional dog trainers available to talk to you 7 days a week, it’s all there, included in our app.