From the moment our puppy is born they are learning things about life and the world around them.  How to walk, what to eat, and who to play with.  The most important periods in our puppy’s development start at 6 weeks and continue through 16 weeks. 

The first development stage starting at 6 weeks old is called Fear Impact period 1.  This stage lasts until our puppies are approximately 9 weeks old, and is the best time to introduce them to their new home and other environments.  Puppies will likely show fear responses to new people during this time, so it is important that every new experience is fun and non-threatening.  Despite these youngsters’ short attention span, anything learned in fear impact period 1 will stay with that dog for the rest of their life.  If our pup has a traumatic experience out in public, they will likely have a lasting fear at some level when presented with that same stimulus.  The same goes for meeting people and dogs as well.  Many pet owners have the best of intentions for socializing their pups, but make the mistake of bringing them to a dog park or some other such environment with strange dogs.  The problem here lies in the fact that not all dogs that attend dog parks are the right fit for social interactions.  Especially with a young impressionable puppy.  The best place to take a young pup would be a socialization class at a veterinary or dog training facility.  These savvy professionals understand dog body language and will be able to step in if one of the pups is not enjoying an interaction.  Here at Brook-Falls Luxury Pet Resort and Doggy Day Care, we have a wonderful puppy socialization class run by our assistant trainer Ashley.  These classes are every Saturday morning and are pay-as-you-go, so you don’t need to worry about not being able to make it each week. 

The second development stage is called seniority classification.  This stage is an adjustment period in which their permanent teeth are growing and the chewing/biting behaviors begin. Leadership is often challenged in the stage, so keep up the consistent enforcement of your rules and boundaries.  It is very important that everyone living and interacting with your pup on a regular basis be on the same page about all expectations you have for their behavior.  Inconsistency here can turn into behavioral problems you won’t want to deal with down the road.  Be sure to discourage behaviors you don’t like (with redirection for example) and flourish the behaviors you do want with lots of praise and attention.  Patience will be your biggest virtue during this 6-week period until your pup is approximately 16 weeks old. 

The further development stages go like this.  Flight Instinct, which occurs around 16 weeks to 8 months, and is the time when our pups need to explore becomes most evident.  They may ignore many cues such as come and find great delight in having you chase them as a game.  Fear Impact period 2 happens from approximately 6-14 months and is encompassed by a fear of new experiences.  Never force a reluctant dog into any situation they feel uncomfortable with.  This will most likely lead to greater fear in that situation the next time it is encountered.  The last stage is Maturity, which comes into play from around 1-4 years of age.  Smaller breeds will reach maturity faster than large breed dogs do.  During this development change, a dog may once again challenge leadership and rules, but also display aggressive behaviors.  Human leadership will be critical to minimize territorial/resource guarding.  Dogs will guard anything that they deem important enough to do so.  Some dogs will guard their personal space, others guard toys or food, and some will guard their people.  The Key to this is that the dog is the one deciding what is most important to them.  If your pup shows signs of resource guarding, contact a trainer you trust to give you advice and training to stop and correct these behaviors.  Brook-Falls Luxury Pet Resort and Doggy Day Care has multiple options for dog training with group classes and private lessons alike.  Contact us today to set your pup up for success!