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Puppy Development

Puppies have multiple developmental periods. When you're able to understand them and when they occur, you will be more successful in raising your puppy to become the best possible version of themselves. In this unit we will discuss your puppy's developmental stages.

Stages of development

0-2 Weeks

Infancy Period

Puppies are blind, deaf and basically immobile. They rely solely on mom for food and protection.

2-3 Weeks

Early Puppyhood Period

Puppies begin see, hear and walk. Some body control control begins as well, such as tail wagging.

3-12 Weeks

Middle Puppyhood Period

The middle puppyhood period is a key socialization period for puppies. During the next 3-7 weeks your puppy starts learning they are in fact a dog.  During this period your puppy will learn appropriate canine behaviour from mom and litter mates. These are skills that will last a lifetime. Between 7-12 weeks is an impactful human socialization period as well. It is imperative that all human interactions remain stress free and positive. They will also be going through a fear period between 8-10 weeks of age. During this time it is recommended to manage the environment and keeping things short and sweet.

3-6 Months

Early Adolescence Period

Puppies will seem to grow rapidly during this time. As the days go by their energy levels will also increase. This period can also be known as the ranking period where puppies tend to become more pushy and mouthy. They are simply testing different behaviour in order to learn to problem solve what is and is not appropriate.

6-12 Months

Middle Adolescence Period

This can be a very stressful time for puppy owners, the wild adolescent phase! Your puppies are going through sexual maturity and some days it will feel like all of your training is falling on deaf ears. During this period it is recommended to go back to basics with training and increase confinement periods to decrease bad behaviours from occurring.  Your puppy will also go through another fear period ( usually corresponds with growth spurts) during this time. Don't worry, it will be brief and hopefully you have a proactive plan with your trainer in place to help them succesfully navigate through it.

12-24 Months

Early Adulthood Period

By the end of this period your dog will reach full physical maturity. Severe behaviour changes can occur during this time and your dog's true personality traits will arise. It is imperative to keep an eye out for behaviours out of the norm. Common behaviour changes such as; becoming intolerant of certain dogs, aging out of dog daycares and social activities and becoming more reactive to people visiting your home are common during early adulthood.

24 Months-48 Months

Adulthood

Welcome to adulthood. Hopefully you have raised a well mannered adult dog.

Ranking Period

There comes a time when your puppy will try their hand at conflict resolution. They might become more mouthy and defiant to attempt to figure out what behaviours works for them. This period is between 3-6 months of age. You will need to teach your puppy that conflict does not work for them by learning how to properly communicate and discourage pushy behaviours.  If you take on a heavier hands on approach during this period, your puppy will develop into a more defensive puppy with a lower threshold for conflict.

Fear Periods

First Fear period

5 Weeks

Second Fear Period

8-10 Weeks

Third Fear Period

6-14 Months

Image by Daniel Lincoln
 

Studies have shown that puppies go through their first fear period at 5 weeks of age. Depending on the breeder you have chosen, this will hopefully have been resolved positively. Fear periods are an extremely normal behavioural response that tend to happen as our puppies become more independent. This is a survival tactic in order to help ensure their safety. After all, there is nothing wrong with creating a healthy fear towards dangerous things. The problem occurs when our puppies create fearful associations to safe, every day people, things or environments. Fear periods tend to occur earlier in smaller breeds, and a bit later in larger breed dogs.

"Beginning to charge a reward marker and building food drive is something you should do the moment your puppy comes home. This will ensure that you can successfully work your dog through their fear periods when they occur. "

Training Dogs Online

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