OF PUPPY DEVELOPMENT
PERIODS IN A DOG'S LIFE - DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES
Early (Neonatal) Critical Period - Birth to 21 Days
this period the puppy's development is limited to two functions: nursing to
obtain nutrition andstaying warm.
A puppy is totally dependant upon his mother to meet all of his
physical needs. He needs to be stimulated to urinate and defecate. His
sense of taste, touch, smell and his ability to hear is limited. The
puppy's environment affects him only as much as it touches him.
the mother happy, healthy, and well fed. Her physical and emotional
well-being will supply everything the puppies need during this stage.
puppies very gently with very slow, massaging movements. Very light
stimulation of the nervous system (called "pre-stressing") may be
beneficial when applied during the second week of life. This could
involve rotating pups gently in your hands, applying light pressure to
the ear leather, and holding each pup gently on its back for a few
seconds each day. Pups should, of course, be weighed daily to monitor
growth and this would be a good time to handle each pup. THIS IS NOT
SOCIALIZATION OR TRAINING. Pre-stressing does, however, assist in
developing brain cells.
allow visitors (human or canine) during this period. Avoid anything
that will stress the mother (house guests, parties, home repairs, etc.)
Also, try not to move puppies or remove the mother from the litter at
this time. If the pups or dam need to see a veterinarian try to arrange
for a home visit. Despite the common practice, this is not a good age
to take a litter to a dog show in your RV.
period - (13-21 Days)
and ears open and pups slowly begin responding to light, movement, and
sound. Puppies become more mobile as they gain awareness of their
surroundings, their mother, littermates, and objects. Pups may also
begin to alert to human presence during this period. This is still a
reaction to stimuli rather than a social bond or emotional attachment.
will attempt to get up on their feet, but continue crawling backward
and forward. They may begin trying to get out of whelping box toward
end of this period.
toys as obstacles to climb over or bump into. This helps pups develop
spatial awareness. Some pups may begin briefly interacting with toys
near the end of the third week. Continue handling pups daily using
slow, massaging movements. Pups are growing fast and need frequent nail
trimming. Introduce brushing with soft brush. Again, this is not
training but stimulation.
startling pup with loud noises or sudden movements while hearing and
eyesight are developing. If you must move or change puppies'
environment, this is the time to do so. Do not remove from mother.
Period- 21 to 28 Days
This is the most important period, with rapid sensory development.
Puppies are fully alert to their environment and will startle easily at
sudden sounds and movements. During this time they are able to
recognize their breeder and other significant humans by smell, sight
and sound. However, they have lost the natural insulation of the
neonatal period and negative events can easily imprint in basic behavior
during this period.
bonding begins to occur during this week.
behaviors such as head swinging, mewing and crawling back and forth
stop. Pups are more active and moving well on their feet. This is a
time of rapid physical change. There are also significant changes in
brain waves during this period and pups are now able to learn from
experiences and to retain what they have learned.
new tactile sensations in puppies' box. Pups enjoy burrowing in
shredded newspaper, for example, or crawling over a rolled up towel or
blanket. Continue daily handling, adding new sounds and sights to the
environment radio, TV, telephone, and computer printer. Introduce toys
that make sounds. Pups can be removed from the box and placed on new
surfaces. Do this with two pups at a time rather than separating from
LOUD NOISES OR SUDDEN CHANGES DURING THIS PERIOD. Negative events can
permanently imprint on pups during this week. Do not run vacuum cleaner
around pups, blow hair dryers, run clippers, etc. Postpone having work
done on your home and ask prospective purchasers or curious friends to
wait until the end of the 4th week to visit puppies.
not move puppies or separate from dam during this week.
Socialization Period 21 to 49 Days
Puppy is with mother and littermates. During this period, puppy learns
about social interaction, play, and inhibiting aggression* from mother
and littermates. Puppies must stay with their mother and littermates
during this critical period. Puppies learn the most important lesson in
learn to accept discipline.
awareness, learning to become dogs (note: first week of this critical
stage of development overlaps with second period of development). Play
fighting behavior becomes increasingly intense. Pups are developing
problem-solving abilities, physical co-ordination, and bite inhibition.
Mother begins weaning pups during this period, those beginning to
initiate discipline. During this time puppies will begin to move to the
far corners of their bed, box, or pen to urinate and defecate. House
breaking can begin!
entire period leave pups together as litter and allow dam free access
4th week (21-28 Days) introduce
food to pups without removing the mother. You can feed her in the
litter box at the same time. Begin escalating sensory experiences (see
notes on second critical period). Continue daily handling by breeder
and family members.
5th week (28-35 Days) introduce
pups to the outdoors. Take them outside to urinate and defecate after
waking or eating. When this is not possible provide pups with a
designated bathroom spot to begin their housebreaking.
handling pups individually away from littermates and the mother for at
least 10 minutes each day. Enlist the help of family members, friends,
neighbor and prospective puppy owners in this process. If you cannot
handle 10 minutes each day, do 5 minutes. Daily experiences away from
littermates are crucial.
6th and 7th weeks (35-49 Days) increase
sensory experiences with brief car rides. Introduce pups to vacuum
cleaner. Puppies can begin simple training routines using food lures
and social attraction at this time. Start teaching pups to stand on
grooming table to be examined or to be brushed.
is the prime socialization period. Introduce new people, especially
children. Pups enjoy interaction with a gentle adult dog - a kindly
aunt or uncle who will baby-sit with patience. Introduce situations
that will stimulate problem-solving behavior - tunnels, cardboard
boxes, gates, steps, fences, logs, etc. Allow pups to have successes
and reinforce these successes with food.
DO NOT REMOVE PUPPIES FROM LITTER DURING THIS
not completely remove mother. Do not correct for play fighting,
housebreaking errors, or mouthing.
Impact Period 8 to 12 Weeks
social awareness and bonding outside of litter. Mental abilities are
fully formed but pups lack experience. This is the optimum time to
teach new things and is, in fact, the period of fastest learning.
Research has shown that behaviors can be shaped and modified most
easily during times when learning is occurring most quickly. Training
during this time will actually increase the capacity to learn by
increasing brain cells in the appropriate regions of the brain.
and bowel control developed and pups are capable of sleeping through
the night without an accident.
enlarge the puppies' world between 49 and 56 days. Begin puppy
rotation, playing and sleeping in smaller groups. Pups that remain with
breeder can be crated with one or two other pups. Be sure to switch
individual grooming, play and training sessions with each pup. Gentle
but firm discipline from humans may be begun. Begin teaching response
to simple commands such as sit, down, stand, come, and walk on lead at
this time. Pups during this period can learn complex behavior chain and
can make associations.
not isolate from humans or unnecessarily restrain during this period
(only restraints should be crate or necessary fencing). Avoid
inadvertently reinforcing fearful responses.
fear imprint period occurs between 8-10 weeks. Avoid placing pups
during this time. Avoid shipping pups, and traumatic experiences.
that have been properly socialized and bonded with breeder can be
successfully placed at 10-12 weeks after they have passed the first
fear imprint period and while they are still young enough to be
Period 3-4 Months
period where pup solidifies social position. Pups will begin testing
their place in the world during this time. They tend to become
emboldened. This is a period of very fast physical growth.
must be treated as individual dogs. If they are still with breeder they
should no longer be treated as part of a litter and should sleep alone
in individual crates at night and all training and grooming sessions
should be individual.
behavioral dominance exercises. "Alphabetize" yourself and your family
- feed pup after you eat, move crate to different locations so pup
doesn't become site protective, take food and toys away from pup while
eating or playing.
socialization and obedience training providing slight distractions.
TEACH THE RECALL AND PRACTICE IT SEVERAL TIMES EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!! Do
this before pup enters the "flight period" at about 16 weeks.
No tug of war games.
Do not allow pup to sleep in bed with humans. Absolutely forbid all
chasing games with children.
Instinct Period 4-6 Months
flight period, corresponding to teething. Pups begin testing limits.
May attempt to assert dominance over human pack members (especially
children). May "forget" housebreaking.
period is characterized by independence and willfulness. Owner or
breeder is no longer Mommy substitute.
pup on lead when outside fenced enclosures. Continue recall training
and response to commands. Continue passive dominance and touch
sensitivity exercises and handling all parts of pup's body.
not let pup off lead if at all possible. Do not chase pup or play
Fear Imprint Period to 14 Months
maturity, hormonal changes. Fearfulness of new situations, objects,
people, other dogs. Male dogs begin lifting legs. Some individuals will
pass through these periods faster than others, often with no noticeable
problems. Others may display marked changes in behavior in strange
situations. Reinforce the behaviors you want; do not reinforce
fearfulness by coddling or protective behavior. But also try to avoid
punishing fearfulness. Try to adopt a firm but patient and kindly
attitude to the pup's fearful behavior. Continue socialization to
humans and other dogs. Avoid or postpone extremely stressful or
traumatic experiences for animals that appear to be in this fear
thanks to the Portuguese Podengo Club of America www.podengos.com for