Puppy Social Development
Being a puppy is more than just play time, cuddles, and puppy breath. Every day your little one is learning and growing. What they experience in these formative years (Stages of Puppyhood) play an integral role in the personality they will develop as they turn into adult dogs.
As you could guess, well-socialized puppies most often turn into well-socialized dogs. When you talk, pet, play, and love your puppy, you are setting them up to have successful social skills. By knowing the stages of puppyhood, you can know what to expect and how best to raise them as they grow.
- Neonatal Period: Birth to Two Weeks
When your puppy is first born, they are strongly influenced by their mother. They are just starting to explore their sense of touch and taste. These tiny teacup puppies live for mother’s milk and are just learning the ropes of life.
- Transitional Period: Two to Four Weeks
As the mother starts to leave the litter for longer periods of time, the littermates become another influencing factor. When the puppies interact playfully with their mother and littermates, they begin to learn the process of a social hierarchy and also the basics of being a dog.
Their eyes begin to open and teeth start to emerge; they being to harness their sense of smelling and hearing and by the end of the fourth or fifth week eyesight is well-developed as well.
- Socialization Period: Three to Twelve Weeks
This period somewhat overlaps the transitional period and is vital to your puppy’s development. Skills not acquired during the first 8 weeks may never be harnessed. As they become aware of their surroundings and interactions, they need to meet other dogs and people. Around 5-7 weeks of age puppies will develop a healthy curiosity and will thrive on positive experiences with people.
By 7-9 weeks a puppy can start to be house-trained. They have full use of their senses and fine tuning their physical abilities and coordination. Around 8 or 9 weeks is also when a puppy is finally old enough to be adopted.
When they pass the 12 week threshold, they may have had some experience with fear which means they need positive interactions as much as possible. Puppies will also have fine tuned much of their social skills with other dogs and start to focus more on humans. This is a good time to start training.
- Adolescence: Six to Eighteen Months
Your puppy starts to increasingly explore what works and confused for challenging humans. This is when training them in the ABC’s of Behavior is most important. Around 7-9 months most puppies will experience an exploratory phase of chewing as they probe their environment. They may also start to exhibit signs of sexuality if they have yet to be spayed or neutered.
Raising a puppy can be tough work. They are bouncy, rolly polly, balls of fun and sometimes…destruction. Making sure that you are introducing them to the right stimuli at the right time can go a long way in turning that tiny bundle of puppy love to a well developed adult dog.
This is where all of our training and socializing starts to show our success of raising well rounded social dogs. Keep up with all the training and always remedial socializing your dogs.
If you have any questions about how to train or raise a puppy, don’t hesitate to contact us! Our experts can help assess any behavioral questions you have and help tackle any problems you may be encountering.
Is it safe to take your dog outside before its third round of vaccines?
A letter from Robert K. Anderson DVM, Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and Diplomate of American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
Common questions I receive from puppy owners, dog trainers and veterinarians concern:
1) What is the most favorable age or period of time when puppies learn best?
2) What are the health implications of my advice that veterinarians and trainers should offer socialization programs for puppies starting at 8 to 9 weeks of age.
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