Behavioral Develpment of Puppies
Neo-Natal Period (1- 14 days)
- Newborn puppies are born helpless and completely dependent on their dams.
- Newborns respond only to touch, warmth, and smell of their dams.
- Newborns cannot regulate their body temperature and elimination.
- Newborns start out with a 94-96 degree F temp and build toward a normal canine temp of 101-102 over the next two weeks of life.
- This is when most of the bio-sensory work is done on each pup.
Transitional Period (14- 21 days)
- Begins when eyes start to open and ends when puppy first startles on hearing a noise
- Rapid development of motor skills, body eliminates on its own and development of usable vision (by 18-21 days)
- Emergence of teeth, pup moves around a lot more, can now move forward and backward - begins to walk instead of crawl
- Puppy starts to lap liquids, leaves nest to eliminate. (This is when we start paper training.)
Awareness or Identification Period (21-28 days)
- First time puppies have use of all their senses - stable environment and dam are important at this time.
- Sight and hearing are well developed. Variety of noise, sights should be a part of their daily lives.
- This is when the exposure to load noises should take place during the 3rd week of life when fear has not developed yet.
- Puppies learn they are dogs, recognizing their mother (filial imprinting) recognizing other species (fraternal imprinting) and sexual imprinting - survival of their species.
- Puppies isolated from dogs at this time and then introduced at 16 weeks of age tend to get attacked and rejected.
- Puppies begin "play fighting" during this week, establish a loose pecking order, and barking increases.
Second Awareness/Identification Period (28-35 days)
- Play behavior becomes more sophisticated (growling, chasing, and "hunting" games.)
- Puppies should be eating real food easily by now, most bitches/and or breeders will wean the litter at this time.
- Puppies need mental and physical challenges, things to move, chew on, climb on, and carry, and tug toys to share with litter mates.
Socialization Period (5 - 16 weeks)
- Socialization does two things: it reduces the number of things in the world that a puppy might be frightened by, and it provides the experience of first being afraid and then recovering.
- Puppies must be exposed to smells, textures, surfaces, sounds, vibrations, tastes, and sights. including a variety of people.
Curiosity Period (5-7 weeks)
- Weaning from the dams should be complete.
- Puppies have the lowest fear and highest approach acceptance now.
- Puppies will start housebreaking at this time if taken outside regularly.
- Time for trips outside the house, first baths, grooming, table stacking, different animal smells, introduction to water.
- No pain memory prior to week 7
Behavioral Refinement Period (7-9 weeks)
-7-8 week-old puppies have fully functioning brains, capable of learning anything if trainer accounts for their short attention spans.
- Best time for puppies to go to their new homes
- 8-week-old puppy is the miniature of what it will be as an adult.
- Puppies go through many changes at this time, bonding with their owners and learning survival skills.
- It is important to teach puppies boundaries and the rules of their new life.
Fear Imprint/Impact Period (8-11 weeks)
- Puppies have no fear until about the 5th week of life.
- Puppies will now begin a time of much more caution
- It may be fearful of loud noises, sudden movements , strangers, discipline from other dogs or humans, etc.
- It may take weeks to return to normal if frightened during this fear period.
- Most agree this is the wrong time for ear cropping, traumatic visits to the vet, or harsh discipline.
Environmental Awareness Period (9-12 weeks)
- Puppies still have short attention spans, but start to learn the right behaviors for the right home.
- Busy learning about their new world
- If left with their litter mates at this age they will bond with them instead of with their owner.
- Behavior can be shaped very differently at this time.