Life as a
"Stages of Growth"
Physical Awareness, Canine Socialization
to the age of eight weeks, a puppy spends all of its time with mom
and littermates. During this time the puppy learns how to
correctly interact in a variety of different situations. Puppies
learn proper social behavior through play, and they learn to
accept discipline from their mom for their improper actions. It is
during this time that they also learn not to relieve themselves in
the den. It is strongly advised that puppies remain with their
mother and littermates through at least the age of 8 weeks.
8 to 16 Weeks
It's A Strange New World
During this period of time a puppy's mind is like a big sponge and
it is when the most rapid learning occurs. A puppy's long term
memory is established during this time, so it is the perfect time
to start basic training.
A puppy's attention span is very short, so any training should be
done in short segments of one to three minutes. Remember, any
training you do must be fun for the dog or it will not want to
learn. This would also be the best time to start introducing the
puppy to other important things in its life. After the initial
bonding period has been completed, take the necessary time to
introduce your puppy to new people, places, other animals, cars,
the washing machine and other unusual items in it's world. At this
age, puppies are driven by curiosity, so they don't usually have a
fear of to many things. If you take the time to introduce all of
these things in a positive and non-threatening way, you will have
a more confident dog as time goes by.
From five to eleven weeks any traumatic, frightening or painful
experience can have a more lasting effect on the puppy. It is
advisable that you avoid or at least minimize any situations that
might frighten, traumatize or cause pain. If handled incorrectly,
you may instill a lasting fear of the things that frightened it.
(car horns, loud noises, the vet etc). Never coddle, or over
sympathize with the puppy if it shows a fear response. If you have
an already timid or fearful puppy this can further ingrain the
fear and make it harder to remove it later. We suggest that you
simply say "It's OK" or "You're Fine" and then
redirect the puppy on to a positive activity like training or a
One other point that needs to be
mentioned is, that the period between six and sixteen weeks can be
a dangerous time for a puppy. Above all else, a puppies health
issues must take center stage. It only takes one sniff at a
location where a sick dog has relieved itself (within the last 6
months) and your puppy can contract the parvo virus or another
life threatening disease. For this reason, when you are
introducing new things, places and dog, please use your common
sense and only introduce it to places and dogs that you know are
13 to 16 Weeks
Coming into Their Own
Puppies start to cut their teeth about this time, so by now you should have discouraged all
biting and your puppy should have learned bite inhibition.
It is also important that the bond between you and your puppy
be fully established. If its not, this should become your
top priority. If you don't have a strong bond you will be in for a few very tough years.
This bond of mutual trust and respect allows you the access to teach your puppy
the things it needs to know as well as the behaviors you expect.
With your consistent "parental like" leadership you will make leaps and bounds in your training.
The eight to sixteen week period is the most important time in
your dog’s life. It will learn more during this time than it
will at any other time in it's life. Most behaviorists feel that
the personality traits that your dog exhibits at sixteen weeks
will accurately reflect what it will be like as an adult dog. The
only way to change an unwanted trait will be extensive training
and/or behavior modification. So it is important that you work
hard to give your puppy the best start in life possible.
During this time your puppy
may go through a period of independence. Confidence is a great
thing but it can also get your puppy into trouble. This may lead
to your puppy to:
off to explore the neighborhood when you aren't watching
your command to come when it smells something interesting next
give chase to the neighbor's cat
of things are fairly harmless, but they can also be deadly if your
puppy decides to run into the street at the wrong time. For this
reason it is very important that you keep the puppy on a leash at
this time if you are not in an enclosed area.
this period daily training sessions are a must. The
amount of training you do and the amount of time you spend
interacting with your puppy will directly determine how well it
will mind you when you ask it to do something.
From Teenager to Adult
It is now thought that puppies become teenagers at about
10 months of age. This goes along way in explaining some of their
actions! Almost all breeds are physically fully grown by 12
months, but may take a few extra months to "fill out"
were not properly trained and socialized as young pups may now
begin to exhibit some increased aggression, resource guarding and
may even try to test your authority. But
if you have done all of your homework, trained consistently on a
regular basis, and spent lots of time hanging out with your dog
this should not be a problem. Actually, you most likely will not
even notice much of a behavior change at all. Continue to train
your dog consistently and on a regular basis every day. This will
keep the lines of communication open and you and the dog will
continue to build a stronger bond. Regular outings and play dates
with other friendly dogs is a must throughout the dog's life in
order to keep it properly socialized.
Adult Ed to Senior Living
No matter what your reason was for getting a puppy, it is your responsibility
to provide a safe and secure environment, provide leadership, and
train it so it will develop into a well-mannered dog and a trusted
family member. If you are not prepared to make a ten to fifteen
year commitment, you need to rethink this whole dog ownership
Over the past few
thousand years dogs have been bred to interact directly with
humans. While they can read our emotional state of mind and our
body language ... they can't read our minds. They need us to tell
them what we want. In order to communicate with your dog you need
to have a bond with it and then become it's teacher. And the
teaching and training doesn't end at 6 months or even 24 months.
Teaching your dog is a lifetime job.
Your dog is not a
wolf and it is not a "pack" animal. Rather it is more
like a child, a student and a family member. Your dog
doesn't need you to be a "pack leader" it needs you to
take on the role of a supportive parent, a teacher and a trusted
friend. In order to be these things you need to establish yourself
in a position of authority through respect and trust. If you fail,
your dog will never be the great companion you want it to
Many people still
think that you have to be a dominate "pack leader" and
that you have to be big, bad and aggressive to control your dog.
They also think that if you don't act this way, your dog will
battle you for a leadership position or take over your household.
This couldn't be further from the truth. One famous TV trainer has
always said that dog's only WANT to be a follower and have no
interest in becoming a leader.
If you begin the
relationship with your dog by building a bond of trust and
respect, it will always want to please you. After all, it's in
their DNA. Anyone can be a good leader. It is an attitude based on
mutual respect and trust, not on punishment dominance or