Congratulations and welcome to the newest member of your household. Your Goldendoodle is going to bring you lots of love, joy and happiness. Their curious nature, loyal companionship, energy and cheeky personality will be a fabulous addition to your family. But how will this all develop as they grow? When is this right time to train them, walk them, play with them? What do you need to look out for through their infant, toddler and teenager stages? Take a look at our comprehensive guide of your Goldendoodles’ first year to help you understand your new pets’ development.
Table of Contents
Birth – 1 month / 4 weeks
The moment your Goldendoodle is born their breeder will check that all is well. They will the return the pup to its mother to be cleaned. Instinctively the pup will nestle to its mother both for warmth and nutrition. This is known as rooting behaviour or comfort seeking.
As with humans their first milk is called colostrum. Colostrum is super important and will help to protect the pup from various diseases during its first weeks of life. This is because it is full of antibodies and transfers mom’s immunities across.
During the first couple of weeks pups need to be stimulated to go potty as they are unable to regulate this themselves. The mom will do this by licking their bottoms. They are also unable to regulate their own body temperature which is why snuggles with mum is so important.
They will have their first experiences of being petted as mom cleans them by licking their coats and they will instinctively respond to warmth, touch and smell.
All their reserves during their first few weeks will be focused on growing and as such they will sleep up to 90% of the time. They will feed between 6 and 8 times a day and during their first week it is expected that they will double their birth weight.
At around 3 weeks old your pup will have opened their eyes and ears, and their teeth will begin to grow. They will become aware of their surroundings and begin to crawl, bark (or squeak) and interact with their brothers and sisters.
The curls of your Goldendoodle’s coat will begin to become more noticeable during this period and those with straighter coats will develop their waves.
By the end of this stage your puppy should be starting to learn how to use a puppy litter tray or at least becoming curious about what it is. They will be affectionate, playful and love attention.
Your 2 month / 8 week Old Goldendoodle (Toddler stage)
During this extremely important period for both their physical and social development your Goldendoodle puppy will continue to grow rapidly in size and weight. Their curiosity will begin to grow. They will start to interact with their mom, littermates and people around them as they learn valuable social skills.
By the time your Goldendoodle reaches 8 weeks and is ready to come home with you they will weigh anything between 4lbs and 10lbs. A Mini Goldendoodle will weigh between 4lbs and 9lbs. A standard around 9lbs at a minimum and medium can be anywhere between 8lbs and 10lbs.
Whilst your puppy is still with its mom they will get their exercise from playing with their siblings and exploring their surroundings.
Mom will also be teaching them good manners and weaning them from the nipple in preparation for them leaving the fold. As they play with their littermates they will begin to learn just how far they can push playtime, what others will tolerate and how strong their bite is. Mom will use her ‘voice’ by barking, growling and snapping to keep her pups in line. They will learn quickly and it won’t be long before all she needs is ‘the look’ to demand their respect. This will carry forward to you once you begin to train your pup.
Puppies should ideally be wormed at 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 weeks and then every 3 months for life. Do confirm that your puppy has received their 8 week dose before leaving the breeder.
3 months / 12 weeks
Your puppy has now joined their forever home with you and is ready to transition their learning from their mom to you. Make sure you do your research and speak to the breeder about how you can most effectively meet all their needs. What they learn now will be the foundations of their behavior so its important to get it right. Your end goal is a happy and well-adjusted adult dog.
They need to have a range of new experiences and you need to ensure that these are positive. A traumatic event can and does last into adult hood. Take this slowly and don’t push your pup, especially if they seem fearful. Use treats and toys to encourage and reinforce. Your Goldendoodle puppy needs to be confident that their new environment is safe and secure. You must ensure they know you are their protector but also their leader.
Your puppy won’t have much of an attention span but they will be eager to learn. What they do learn will imprint now and they will continue to display the same taught behaviours as an adult dog. As they learn and settle into their new environment their own personality will begin to develop and show through.
With regards to exercise a good rule of thumb is 5 minutes per month of age up to twice a day (UK Kennel Club). So, by the time your Goldendoodle leaves the litter to join you, you will be meeting their exercise needs with two 10-minute daily work outs. It’s important also to remember though that at this stage your puppy will not have received all their required vaccinations so won’t be ready for outside walks. Socialization is also important. You could join a puppy training class with other pups at the same vaccination stage. This would be one way to meet both those needs.
It is important not to over exercise your pup. Too much will put pressure on their still developing joints, potentially causing problems in later life. A simple game of tug of war (as long as the puppy is controlling the tugging) or hide and seek is great at this age. These games will not only stimulate them mentally and physically but be fun for you both as you get to know one another. They will soon let you known when the tire as they will want to lie down and they will pant. It’s important that you stop play at this point and let them have their rest.
Your pup will need to be eating food specifically for puppies. As with formula milk for babies, puppy food will contain all the nutrients and calories that your Goldendoodle puppy will need in order for them to thrive and grow. It is also softer on the teeth and palate than the adult variety. Be sure to read the label so that you know you are buying the right food for the age of your dog. Don’t over feed them, their tummies can be sensitive and be mindful of possible allergies.
You can start to groom your puppy so that they can become familiar with the process. They will become more comfortable the more you brush them and some may even learn to enjoy it. Aim to groom your pup once a day using a slicker brush to start with.
A standard Goldendoodle will weigh roughly around the 20lb mark by the end of this stage and be around half their adult height.
Don’t forget to deworm your Goldendoodle at 12 weeks. This will be their last dose before you can start on a three-monthly schedule.
Your 4 month Old Goldendoodle (Terrible Twos)
Your Goldendoodle puppy will have been with you for a few weeks now. They will have been keeping a very close eye on you and the rest of the family, picking up on your behaviours. They will be figuring out who is ‘top dog’ and where they fit into the pecking order. You need to have your wits about you now because they are going to try and challenge it as they make an attempt to move up the ladder.
They will be domineering and question your authority, grabbing their leash, they may growl or even attempting to nip you. This is the perfect time to use the ‘NO’ command and use it a lot. It’s important that you keep in control as they manoeuvre through this stage of development. Should they show these signs it is best to lay off the more aggressive games during play time (such as tug-of-war mentioned in the previous section). Keep your calm and stop the interaction until your Goldendoodle puppy has calmed.
Be mindful of how they interact with any children in the family and never leave them alone. They will likely see these as lower down the pecking order and be braver about challenging them. Ensure that everyone in the family is interacting in the same way with your puppy so no confusion is caused, and no mixed messages are given to them. It needs to always be clear what is expected of them. Be mindful of your own actions and body language around your Goldendoodle puppy and how you communicate this to them. But don’t worry, be consistent and this stage, as with the human two-year-old, will pass. Patience and love is all that is really needed, despite their defiance all they really want to do is please you.
Now is a good time to enrol in an obedience class. All these steps will ensure that your Goldendoodle puppy matures into a happy, friendly and well-rounded adult.
At around 16 weeks your Goldendoodle puppy will have their last set of early immunisations. This means that they will now be protected from parvo, distemper, rabies and other canine infections. This also means you can now take your puppy out for walks. Remember at this stage you should be looking at around two twenty-minute exercise sessions a day.
Whilst playing avoid games that require your pup to jump, such as frisbee, until they are at least 12 months old. High impact activities like this will put far too much pressure on their growing joints and they will be at risk of long-term injury.
Your puppy will most definitely be teething by this stage so anything at their height will be in danger of those sharp little teeth. Be sure to invest in some approved chewing toys and make sure you reinforce that ‘NO’ command.
Now your Goldendoodle puppy has access to the big wide world it may be the time to introduce bathing into their grooming routine if you haven’t already done so. Make sure the puppy will be leaving the bath into the warmth. No drafts and no air conditioning, you don’t want them to catch a chill. Mild puppy shampoo is available to buy in order to protect those delicate eyes and ears. This is also the time to use a flea comb on your puppies’ coat. Lots of dogs don’t like bath time so be sure to do your utmost to make it an enjoyable experience for you both. Your puppy shouldn’t need a bath more than once a month. Depending on their coat this should then become a one to three monthly routine.
If your Goldendoodle is a mini breed, then by their fourth month it possible that they will already have reached half of their expected adult weight. All types will already be over the halfway mark for height.
By five months old your Goldendoodle puppy will have reached half their adult weight. It’s important though to remember that they are still a puppy and are still learning. Positive reinforcement must be continued through their training. They will push your buttons, just like any child, but keep consistent. Your hard work will pay off.
You can expect your puppy to sleep for between 6 and 10 hours a night. They may need a toilet break throughout though so be aware that your sleepless nights might not yet be over. They will soon let you know though. Your pup won’t want to soil where they sleep so a little fussing and crying will be in order to have you answering their call of nature.
Around this age you can start to transition their mealtimes to two to three day. Increase their breakfast and evening meal and reduce what they have at mid-day. Do ensure that you do this slowly so as not to over face your pup. Dogs can be greedy and won’t think twice about overeating. You don’t want this on their delicate tummies.
Your puppy should be able to hold their urine, on average, for one hour longer than their age. So, at 5 months old be very careful to not let them go beyond six hours without taking them out. If you work by this rule of thumb you should most certainly minimize accidents within the home.
During playtime it’s very important that you don’t allow your Goldendoodle puppy to bite you or use mouthing as a game. This will only encourage dominant behaviours and aggression. A firm ‘NO’ and ending play if this happens needs to be constant and authoritative.
Your Goldendoodle at 6 months – 9 months (the teenage years)
Your Goldendoodle is growing and developing quickly. They are learning what is and what isn’t acceptable behaviour and they will push boundaries. You are the one constant which will lead them down the right path. By keeping consistent your pup will learn faster and without confusion.
You can now completely transition your Goldendoodle’s mealtimes to twice a day. However, be sure to include any treats you provide in their overall daily intake. It’s all too easy to accidently overfeed them with these added extras.
From 6 months you should now be walking your puppy for around 30 minutes twice daily. However, it’s very important that they are leashed whenever in an unconfined space. Your puppy is a bratty preteen who is discovering their own independence. Whilst they previously wouldn’t roam far from your side now is the time for the potential for them to venture off. Initially they will ignore your commands to come or stay close and they will be very clever in their attempts to escape. The way you handle their refusal of this will hold weight in how reliable they will be off the leash in the future. Reinforce the ‘come” command and ensure that their return is always a positive experience.
If you haven’t already started to take your Goldendoodle pup to the groomer now is the time to do it. Earlier is better as the younger they are the easier they are to train. You must, however, ensure that that are least 16 weeks old and fully vaccinated before you start.
Now is also the recommended time to have your bitch spayed or your dog neutered. Not only will this help to keep your puppy healthy and happy, but it will also prevent any unwanted litters in the future.
At around 6 months your Goldendoodle will start to shed their puppy coat. This can be replaced by the thicker and stiffer adult coat suddenly or it can take months to transition. This is time that your Goldendoodles coat may lighten and change pattern. Some pups can be late shedders so don’t be alarmed if they still have their fluffy, puppy fur later than you have anticipated.
At around seven months (possibly earlier) it may be that your Goldendoodle appears to regress. All those lessons you thought you’d nailed may go out of the window. Barking, unruly conduct, toilet accidents and bossy behavior may all become apparent. Unfortunately, this is the most common age for puppies to end up in the shelter and this is probably one of the reasons why. But do not worry, your puppy is attempting to redefine their boundaries and you just need to stick with the consistent training that got you to where you were before their regression. Be patient, continue to reinforce the good behaviours and correct response to commands. Never forget that love and affection work magic, especially with a dog who ultimately wants to please you. Considerable praise and appropriately timed love and fuss will keep your puppy on the right track (or distract them back from the wrong one).
Puppies have 28 milk teeth that start to appear at around 4-week-old. By the time your Goldendoodle is 8 months they will have lost all their puppy teeth and be the proud owners of 42 adult ones. 12 incisors, 4 canines, 16 premolars and 10 molars. However, should the puppy teeth still be hanging around after 30 weeks it is recommended that you speak to your vet as these may need removing.
You should have already established a dental hygiene routine with your puppy, if only for the reason of getting them used to cleaning. One they have all their adult teeth then you should continue with the same routine. Ensure that you always use toothpaste and cleaning materials (cloth or brush) specifically designed for dogs. The human equivalent is simply not good for them. You can supplement their brushing routine by using crunchy, dry foods. This helps to prevent the build-up of tartar as it scrapes against their teeth as they chew.
Whilst redefining their boundaries your puppy may make an attempt to move up the pack within your household. Make sure that this is not allowed and that you continue to reinforce the point that you are in charge. However, remain realistic, after all they are still only a baby so don’t expect too much of them. Every learning experience can be turned into a positive one, both for you and your puppy. If their teenage tantrums don’t seem to be dispersing and you don’t seem to be moving forward don’t be worried about additional training opportunities outside any you may already have been or are attending. Remember, this is all for the greater good.
Don’t be alarmed if your Goldendoodle suddenly becomes fearful during this stage of development. It can be a subtle change but the pup who was once full of confidence and fearless may now be terrified to get in the car or of other dogs. It is imperative that you are patient and understanding with them. You do not want these fears to imprint permanently. Try to be aware of particular triggers or surroundings. Whilst calming your pup and showing them that their fears need not be warranted it is also important to not overcompensate with too much fussing. Don’t overreact but encourage them to tackle their fear head on. Your pup will take their cues from you, if you are brave, they will emulate that. They need to be desensitized to the trigger and rewards can be used to achieve this. This phase can manifest periodically through this stage and possibly beyond.
10months – 12months
This is the stage that your Goldendoodle will reach their full height but continue to gain weight for up to another year. Maturity is commonly reached at between 8 and 10 months of age. However, a larger Goldendoodle is likely to take a little more growing and it could be another 6 or 12 months before they get there.
Whilst your Goldendoodle puppy may now look like an adult dog it is important to remember that mentality they are still developing. They will have boundless amounts of energy but unfortunately still not a whole lot of common sense or life experience.
Don’t expect too much of them based on their size. You should know them inside out by now but be careful not to slip with our training methods and expectations of your puppy. Ensure you act fast on any newly developed unwanted behaviors.
Your Goldendoodle puppy will be needing around 90 minutes to 2 hours exercise per day by this stage. Make sure you utilize this time to tire them out. An under stimulated puppy can get into lots of trouble.
Your puppy should be being regularly treated with a recommended flea and tick product. If you are unsure of which to use check with your vet and always make sure you give the correct dosage as this is usually based on size and weight.
Congratulations on your Goldendoodle’s first birthday. It has been a fun year, if not challenging on some days. But here you are, one year in with a thriving, healthy and loveable companion who is going to take all you have taught (and continue to teach) them into their adult life to become a well-rounded and good-mannered dog.
You have also learnt along the way. Not just the basics of training and caring for you puppy but about their own unique personality and the pair of you have developed an unbreakable bond.
The teeny, tiny, nervous little puppy you brought home 10 months ago is now a confident young adult, eager to please and happy to protect you. Don’t forget though, they’re still learning and as we have mentioned throughout this article, consistency is key. Keep it up.
- Are Goldendoodles good puppies?
The Goldendoodle is a loyal and affectionate companion. They generally get on well with children and other dogs. They are a social breed and should not live away from their family. They are not known as a noisy breed and are therefore not recommended as a guard dog.
- When are Goldendoodles fully grown?
Your Goldendoodle will usually stop growing at around 12 months of age (longer for a large dog) and spend the next year continuing to gain weight.
- Are Goldendoodles good for first time owners?
Due to their placid and affectionate nature Goldendoodles are proven to be tremendous family dogs. They can be very easy to train making them an ideal breed for the first time dog owner.