If you just got a puppy you need to know this!

Jamie Flanders CDBC

Many people dive into raising a puppy without any knowledge on how puppies work. Understanding what your puppy is going through developmentally will help you keep a level head as your puppy ages. Without this knowledge you may not handle certain things appropriately which can lead you down an emotionally and financially expensive path.

 Birth – 3 weeks

3- 5 weeks

  • Learning and sensory development begins.

  • New surfaces and sounds should be introduced.

  • Puppies should remain with their litter and mother a minimum of 8 weeks, this is when pups learn the foundations of canine to canine language.

6-16 weeks

  • Rapid learning occurs. Greatest impact on future social behavior will be made by any experience that happens at this point.

  • Optimal socialization window is closing.

  • Puppies should be introduced to well-mannered adult dogs one-on-one as well as equally matched puppies one-on-one. Large groups of puppies are problematic, just as large groups of adult dogs are problematic. http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/theotherendoftheleash/doggy-day-care-fun-for-fido-or-not SOIDT recommends puppy play is not associated with puppy training classes as it may develop dogs who disconnect from their handler when other dogs are in the environment. Inevitably they are going to be curious about other dogs around them but being let off leash to go play with other puppies after turning their focus away from their handler is a huge reinforcement. A well thought out puppy class can use this powerful reinforcement to strengthen the puppy staying connected to the handler but that is a very tall order.

  • Consider puppy’s physical limitations and short attention span when training. Keep training fun, short, and positive.

  • SOIDT’s top 3 behaviors to immediately teach puppies: recall, drop it, leave it. These will save you from a lot of frustration and potentially keep your puppy safe from himself.

  • Management of the home environment is critical so that the puppy does not develop unwanted habits. Use as many baby gates and barriers as it takes.

  • Experiences a puppy perceives as traumatic during this time are generalized and may affect them all their life.

  • Fun vet and groomer visits should be a priority to avoid unnecessary stress, muzzling, and sedation for routine procedures. Conditioning your puppy to enjoy being handled, groomed, examined and treated by pet care professionals has deadlines. You need to have already been working on these things before the deadlines are up. You can teach obedience literally at any time.

  • The puppy should be gently experiencing as many new; sights, sounds, people, animals, and scents as possible. Gently means one or two new experiences a day taking care not to overwhelm.

4 to 12-36 months – adolescence, the most challenging age range

  • Environmental management is still critical as the adolescent dog becomes more outwardly curious and does not yet understand his limits and boundaries. Keep adolescents on leash in areas where other people and dogs are as they may resist recalls in favor of meeting new dogs and people.

  • Because of the changes her body and brain are going through, behaviors that she was great at only days before may falter and new behaviors will develop.

  • Chewing, crying, biting, whining and restlessness may swell as the adolescent begins to experience growing pains and a sore mouth from teething.

  • The adolescent will experience peaks and valleys of sensitivity, he will suddenly be apprehensive, shy, or fearful of new or even known people, dogs, sounds, environments, and objects.

  • A rise in barking or growling may appear during peaks in sensitivity.

  • Providing a positive experience via food, toys, reassurance and play is critical. Any punishment for behaviors induced by peaks of sensitivity may cause the adolescent to develop into a reactive, fearful, or aggressive adult.

  • Positive socialization exposure needs to continue but the areas and events need to be well thought out and the puppy must be given as much space as he needs to feel safe.

Jamie Flanders