0 to 7 Weeks
Neonatal, Transition, Awareness, and Canine Socialisation. Puppy is with mother and litter-mates up to seven weeks . During this period, your puppy learns about social interaction, play, and inhibiting aggression from its mother and litter-mates.
This is also the time a couple of days after the birth, that the breeders should regularly handle the puppies. Handling on a regular basis when they are still blind and deaf causes them a mild stress response that allows them to be healthier,bond more with humans, more intelligent and easier to train.
Puppies must stay with their mother and littermates through this critical period. As the puppies learn the most important lesson in their lives, they learn to accept discipline. It is at this time that they also learn not to toilet in the nest.
7 to 16 Weeks
Human Socialisation Period. The best time to take a puppy home is 7 weeks then you have nine whole weeks to work with the dog over this incredibly important period.
The puppy now has the brain waves of an adult dog, but his attention span is short. This period is when the most rapid learning occurs. Learning at this age is permanent so this is a perfect time to start training but make it fun.
This is also the time to introduce the puppy to things that will play and important part in his life. Different people, places, animals, hoovers,washing machines, and unusual sounds, in a positive non threatening way.
This is also the time to work with any perceived problems, especially aggression. If dogs are showing aggressive behaviour under 16 weeks then get it treated immediately. The dogs personality and future temperament is formed around the age of 16 weeks. This relates to the same age as a 5 year old child.
It is at this time that a childs personality is fully formed, any learning after that is just based on knowledge and experience. The personality will not change and that is exactly the same for your dog.
8 to 10 / 11 Weeks
Fear Imprint Period. Whilst the Pup is going through human socialisation it also go has an important fear/hazard avoidance period. This starts at 5 weeks and peaks between 8 and 10.5 weeks. Any traumatic, frightening or painful experience will have a more lasting effect on the puppy than if it occurred at any other time in its life.
This is the period that you do not handle it correctly can give you dog a lasting fear of traffic, Vets or other frightening experiences, noises or events. Never ever praise, cuddle, comfort or sympathise with your pup when it is startled or showing fear or anxiety. This only serves to reinforce the fear the exact opposite of humans.
13 to 16 Weeks
Seniority Classification Period. Puppy starts to cut teeth and apron strings! Puppy begins testing its position in the family unit. You must discourage all biting; the dog should have started to learn and understand bite inhibition by this time! It is important that you are a strong and consistent leader.
The period between 0 and 16 weeks is the most important period in your dog’s life. He will learn more during that short space of time than at any other time in his life. Other windows of opportunity for learning will open during your dog’s life. However, what you see at 16 weeks without extensive training and behavioural modification is about what you are going to get as an adult. Therefore, work hard on giving your pet the best start in life.
4 to 8 Months
Play Instinct Period. Flight Instinct Period. Puppy may wander and ignore you. It is very important that you keep the puppy on a leash at this time! The way that you handle your pup at this time determines if he will come to you when called. At about 4-1/2 months, your puppy loses his milk teeth and gets his adult teeth.
That's is the time when he begins serious chewing! A dog's teeth don't set in his jaw until around about a year depending on breed and size. During this time, the puppy has a physical need to exercise his mouth by chewing.
Training must continue through this period or all your good work may revert back to stage one. Occasionally the puppy will start to urinate in the house again if this happens, just go back to basic toilet training.
6 to 14 Months
Second Fear Imprint Period or Fear of New Situations Period.Dog again shows fear of new situations and even familiar situations. Dog may be reluctant to approach someone or something new. It is important that you are patient and act very matter of fact in these situations. Never force the dog to face the situation.
DO NOT pet the frightened puppy or talk in soothing tones. The puppy will interpret such responses as praise for being frightened. Training will help improve the dog's confidence. This fear period is normally more marked in male dogs.
1 to 4 Years
Maturity Period. You may encounter some increased aggression and renewed testing for position and authority, however
if you have spent lots of time with your dog and trained consistently and regularly, then this should not present itself as a problem - in fact you may hardly notice this change, it is just something to keep in mind.
Continue to train your dog during this period. It is possible that your dog may have another fear period between 12 - 16 months of age.
Regardless of your reason for acquiring a puppy, you'll have to win it over. You, not your dog, will have to create a safe and secure environment with ongoing training if your pup is to develop into a well-mannered family member instead of a thug or a burden.
Dogs are animals, not human beings. They are instinctively pack animals. In every pack there is at least one sometimes more than one leader, who tends to make most of the decisions. Usually the pack will have at least one and possibly more breeding male and breeding females.
All the other members of the pack form a hierarchy in which everyone has a place. Your dog is not a wolf, and though we have tended to think Alpha is important position, new thinking and study has somewhat disproved this idea.
That is not to say you should not show leadership through controlling resources in a fair and equable way In your home, you and your family become your dog's family, as do any other dogs you may have. It is therefore your responsibility to establish yourself in a position of authority and trust. If you fail to do this, your dog may question your requests. Many people assume that they are automatically the lead figure just because they are humans.
Are you really the leader? Does your dog know it and respect your wishes and commands? Are you controlling all the resources around your dog and does the dog see you as the resource controller? see my article "The Alpha Myth"
Being the leader/controller does not mean you have to be big and aggressive. Nor does it mean that there has to be a battle of strength or wills. Anyone can be the leader/controller. It is an attitude an air of authority. It is the basis for mutual respect, and provides the building blocks of communication and trust between you and your dog. It never means punishment or overt aggression.
Stan Rawlinson © 1999