Critical Periods

0 to 8 Weeks

Neonatal, Transition, Awareness, and Canine Socialization. Puppy is with mother and litter-mates up to seven weeks . During this period, your puppy learns about social interaction, play, and inhibiting aggression from its mother and litter mates. Puppies must stay with their mother and litter-mates through this critical period. As the puppies learn the most important lesson in their lives, they learn to accept discipline. It is at this time that they also learn not to toilet in the nest.

1 to 16 Weeks

Human Socialization Period. The best time to take a puppy home is 7 weeks then you have nine whole weeks to work with the dog over this incredibly important period. The puppy now has the brain waves of an adult dog, but his attention span is short. This period is when the most rapid learning occurs. Learning at this age is permanent so this is a perfect time to start training, but make it fun. This is also the time to introduce the puppy to things that will play an important part in his life. Different people, places, animals, hoovers, washing machines and unusual sounds, in a positive, non-threatening way.

8 to 10 / 12 Weeks

Fear Imprint Period. Whilst the Pup is going through human socialization is will also go through an important fear/hazard avoidance period. Avoid frightening the puppy during this period. Any traumatic, frightening or painful experience will have a more lasting effect on the puppy than if it occurred at any other time in its life. This is the period that if you do not handle it correctly will give your dog a lasting fear of traffic and other frightening noises. Never ever praise or sympathize with your pup when it is showing fear. This only serves to confirm the fear.

13 to 16 Weeks

Seniority Classification Period. Puppy starts to cut teeth and apron strings! Puppy begins testing its position in the family unit. You must discourage all biting; the dog should have started to learn and understand bite inhibition by this time! It is important that you are a strong and consistent leader. The period between 0 and 16 weeks is the most important period in your dog’s life. He will learn more during that short space of time than at any other time in his life. Other windows of opportunity for learning will open during your dog’s life. However, what you see at 16 weeks without extensive training and behavioural modification is about what you are going to get as an adult. Therefore, work hard on giving your pet the best start in life.

4 to 8 Months

Play Instinct Period. Flight Instinct Period. Puppy may wander and ignore you. It is very important that you keep the puppy on a leash at this time! The way that you handle your pup at this time determines if he will come to you when called. At about 4-1/2 months, your puppy loses his milk teeth and gets his adult teeth. That’s when he begins serious chewing! A dog’s teeth don’t set in his jaw until between 6 /10 months. During this time, the puppy has a physical need to exercise his mouth by chewing. Training must continue through this period or all your good work may revert back to stage one. Occasionally the puppy will start to urinate in the house again if this happens, just go back to basic toilet training.

6 to 14 Months

Second Fear Imprint Period or Fear of New Situations Period. Dog again shows fear of new situations and even familiar situations. Dog may be reluctant to approach someone or something new. It is important that you are patient and act very matter of fact in these situations. Never force the dog to face the situation. DO NOT pet the frightened puppy or talk in soothing tones. The puppy will interpret such responses as praise for being frightened. Training will help improve the dog’s confidence. This fear period is normally more marked in male dogs.

1 to 4 Years

Maturity Period. You may encounter some increased aggression and renewed testing for position and authority however if you have spent lots of time with your dog and trained consistently and regularly, then this should not present itself as a problem – in fact you may hardly notice this change, it is just something to keep in mind. Continue to train your dog during this period. It is possible that your dog may have another fear period between 12 – 16 months of age.

Scroll to top